7 things we learnt from superyacht owners in 2015

Take inspiration from other yachts

If you want to know what having a superyacht is really like there’s only one person to ask: an owner. From buying to design to build to delivery, an owner knows every inch of their yacht inside out and thus have some very valuable insights whether you’re trying to choose a great charter or looking for tips on buying your first yacht. Here are some of the best things we learnt form superyacht owners in 2015...

Take inspiration from other yachts

For jewellery designer Carlo Traglio designing his own yacht came naturally - but he did learn lessons from other people’s vessels. “It’s really horrible,” he told Boat International’s Stewart Campbell of a neighbouring vessel spied from the deck of his modern classic Ardis II before labelling a very famous sailing boat ‘a disaster’.

However, Traglio does concede that every yacht does have some merit in his eyes. “They’ll have a detail that you’ll see and say, ‘This is good, this is nice.’ And it might be something you keep in your head for your next boat.”

You can never take your passion too far

Despite devoting his life to the family business, so passionate was Leonardo Ferragamo about his Nautor’s Swan sailing yacht that he bought a controlling interest in the company. “I came to the company with an immense respect for what they do,” Ferragamo explains. “The first time I went to visit the yard in Finland was as an owner of my first Swan 51, 10 years before my involvement in the business, and I was amazed. This was not an industry but a conglomerate of craftsmen. They work with their hands, passing on their talent from generation to generation; these are the same families who built ships for some of the greatest navies in the world: the British, the Scandinavians. So I wanted to treasure that, and add strong direction, new skills only where gaps needed to be filled.”

In fact, Ferragamo even ordered his recently delivered sailing yacht Solleone to coincide with the company’s 50th anniversary. “It represents the future and by that I am not just referring to its size,” he says of the 27.71 metre vessel. “The mission has always been to bring this iconic brand into the third millennium, by building on Swan’s philosophy – less revolution, more evolution.”

Don’t be afraid to go beyond the standard cruising grounds

After a series of accidents led sailing yacht owner Barry Houghton to retreat from the regatta circuit his love of a challenge instead led him to an epic trip aboard his sailing yacht Salperton.

“We knew that we were going to continue on after the Caribbean season of 2013-14. We sailed down to San Blas and Colombia, then went through the Panama Canal,” he says. “There were so many amazing places. The Marquesas were better than the Galapagos, and I love the Yasawas in Fiji. In Tahiti, I met up with the artist who had painted the picture that hangs in Salperton’s saloon. He had never seen it on the boat, so I was able to get him on board to see it in place. In Tonga, we rented the king’s summer palace, which is essentially a hut with a very big balcony over the water, while the Darwin Glacier and the Beagle Channel in Tierra del Fuego were simply amazing.”

Break boundaries

Inventor and entrepreneur Kim Vibe-Petersen is used to thinking outside the box and so, when it came to building his sailing yacht Parsifal III, he wasn’t afraid to break boundaries. “Parsifal III was a game-changer in the sailing yacht industry,” he says. “We were one of the first to use (designer) Rémi Tessier and we did the complete boat with him. That made his business grow.

“All the other boats [we saw] had a lot of small rooms, which I couldn’t see any use for,” he continues. “We made Parsifal III open, so you could see 360 degrees around from the main saloon. There was no special dining room, or special pantry, or anything that disturbs your sight. I wanted it to be one big thing. That was new.”

You don’t have to be a sailing pro to take part in regattas

Philanthropist and sailing yacht owner Wendy Schmidt may have been a sailing fan since buying her first W Class sloop in 2007 but that doesn’t mean she was prepared for the task of helming her first superyacht, a Swan 80 named Selene, during the Heineken Regatta in St Maarten in 2009. “Suddenly I had a crew and a big boat and I had to learn all about it.” she explains. “It was a year of extraordinary conditions. I think we had 10-foot seas and up to 35 knots of wind. I hung on and drove the boat into conditions that would really worry me now, but ignorance is bliss, I suppose, and we went on to win.”

Now though, Schmidt’s concerns lie closer to saving the oceans than sailing them. With help from designer Andre Hoek and Schmidt’s own 11th Hour Foundation, her latest delivery - the 46 metre ketch Elfje - is a testament to the advancements in modern eco-friendly superyacht design.

It’s okay to admit it’s time to move on

There’s a reason so many superyacht owners are, in fact, serial superyacht owners. Whether an expanding family means you need something bigger or a need for speed has you looking for the latest technical developments, it’s okay to admit that your current yacht might not be fulfilling your needs anymore - as owner of yacht for sale Sea Force One Raffaele Costa knows.

“She has exhausted the energy that I wanted from her,” Costa confided to Boat International earlier this year. “And I’m a little more sophisticated than I was [when she was delivered in 2008]. Sophisticated is probably the wrong word, but it gives you an idea.

“I cannot overtake Sea Force One in terms of how cool she is,” he said of his next build. “It is impossible. I’ve visited many big boats in the last six years but frankly I haven’t seen anything really “wow” other than a very good ability to use space in a better way. So the only way to surpass myself is to go backwards in history. My next boat will be going backwards.”

A great classic is worth the effort of restoration

There’s no denying a new build can be stressful but restoring a classic yacht that has fallen into disrepair is an entirely different ball game. As Charles Dunstone, owner of the 1938 Vosper Thornycroft Shemara, puts it, “You don’t know what you’re going to find with a project like Shemara. It’s like a house, isn’t it? No builder can give you a quote on an old house until they get on the roof and see what’s going on.”

However, both he and Chapman Ducote, owner of Anahita V, agree that when you find the right yacht the results are worth it. “It was the first Feadship superyacht ever built and the one where they realised their business model,” says Ducote of finding his classic. “So to say my boat is historically significant is an understatement! It’s like owning the first Ferrari ever built or the first Rolls-Royce they ever raced.

“It was a gem. I had some boys from Holland fly over to take a look at it and they were shocked at how good a condition it was in. I really wanted to be partners with Feadship on this. I wanted them involved, I wanted their blessing. There’s only one of these boats; it’s pretty special.”

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