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Life Under Sail: Rising Cost of Sailing Yachts is Slowing Market, Industry Figures Claim

19 November 2019• Written by Miranda Blazeby

The rising cost of sailing yacht construction is significantly contributing to the shrinking new-build market, top industry figures have said.

Speaking at BOAT International’s inaugural Life Under Sail summit at the Yacht Club de Monaco last week, shipyard bosses and sailing yacht brokers analysed the state of the sailing market.

Figures from BOAT’s 2020 Global Order Book show that there are currently 59 sailing projects underway, in comparison to 748 motor yacht projects. This means that sailing yacht projects account for just 6.9% of the total Global Order Book.

YPI broker Will Bishop claimed the “rising cost of building” is pricing potential owners out of the market as yards ramp up the development of high-performance sailing yachts.

“The boats are becoming more tilted towards performance which means the costs are going up,” he said. “I don’t necessarily think it’s a fit for everybody – not everybody needs to build in carbon.”

BOAT's first international sailing summit took place on November 13

He pointed to South African sailing yard Southern Wind which, he said, “used to fill the gap in the 30-metre range”.

“You’d order a 100-footer for €8.5 million to €9.5 million and now their new build offerings are around the €12.5 million mark,” he said. “I don’t think that’s particularly helpful for the industry.”

He added there is an “opportunity” for yards to develop yachts that “are not as performance orientated but still offer the volume and enjoyment of sailing.”

Perini Navi's sailing yachts sales director, Fabrizio Sgariglia, agreed with Bishop that “boats are becoming way too expensive” and pointed to the yard’s 42 metre sailing yacht line has been specifically developed to “fill a gap for clients wanting to upgrade”.

Global Order Book figures show there are currently 59 sailing projects underway

“The market has been appreciative this product,” he said. “We’ve sold two boats in one year and we’re starting another on speculation now.”

Vice president of Nautor’s Swan, Enrico Chieffi, agreed that the cost of new build construction is rising but called on the sailing industry to work together to attract new owners to the market.

“The real question here is how to make the market bigger because we are all fighting against a market that is shrinking and we all need to find solutions to that.”

Sgariglia agreed: “We have to think about how we are going to increase our market share."

BOAT's Life Under Sail event was sponsored by Persico Marine and YPI

Key to this is the loss of sailing yacht owners to motor yachts combined with the failure to attract new owners to the industry, the panel said.

“I see the same clients come back over and over again,” Sgariglia said. The biggest challenge the industry faces is "making this market more appealing to the younger generation," he said. “How can we make this market more appealing to the younger generation?”

The panel discussed how to get younger generations into sailing

He added: “We need to regenerate the passion for sailing yachts – the new generation don’t have time for passion."

Ocean Independence charter broker, Barbara Müller, agreed that the younger generation are less passionate about sailing.

“The parents have the passion but the kids, especially in their late teens, are asking what kind of toys there are on board,” she said. “They don’t care about sailing, they just want action, action, action," she said.

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