SUPERYACHT EXPERT GEOFF MOORE TELLS THE BUSINESS INFLUENCE WHY THE SUPERYACHT INDUSTRY IS SO BUOYANT.
RUSSIAN superyachts escaping possible confiscation by the West have created a sudden shortage of charter vessels to feed a new and hungry post-Covid market for private cruising.
A report by Allied Market Research, the global luxury yacht market generated $5.8 billion in 2020, with likely expansion to $12.8 billion by 2031, a major boom for the forthcoming international boats shows around the world.
The superyacht owners who catch the eye through the size, design and extravagance of their vessels are firstly Middle Eastern and then Russian, while the USA commands the greatest tonnage.
But it’s not all for show, according to Geoff Moore, MD of superyacht specialist West Nautical, based in Newcastle.
“People assume that superyacht owners are so wealthy that they can afford to leave their expensive assets lying idle until they go aboard and follow a whim. But rather like a classic E-Type Jag, superyachts need to be used; you cannot leave an expensive sophisticated box of technology plus crew just lying idle in salt water.”
“Most owners are businessmen expecting a decent return on their investment, so they put their yachts out to charter when not using them, and that type of expert management is a major part of our business.”
“Covid-19 was a roller-coaster for the industry,” he added, “as nobody wanted to confine themselves with others in a vessel and increase the risk of infection, but we then had an unexpected post-Covid boom where, rather like private jets, charter bookings with friends and family became a preference for some serial cruise customers, wealthier travellers, or corporate groups.
“They realised they could travel in good company rather than perhaps with 2,000 strangers on a liner, still be pampered, enjoy the cuisine and an itinerary they want rather than what a cruise company serves them.
“Post-Covid, people also realised they could work from anywhere, and if you owned or could afford to charter one, why not a yacht? Why not run a Zoom meeting, or even speak at a virtual conference while cruising the Caribbean?
“Finally, new and ‘younger money’ started coming into the superyacht sector; tech entrepreneurs, following the likes of Microsoft Founder Bill Gates – a regular yacht charter customer – who maybe want to go up a notch from luxury brands, clothes, watches, cars, and even helicopters.
“The older superyacht generation always tended to use their yachts to get away from scrutiny and the paparazzi, but the new customers often court such attention.”
It’s one reason, says Moore why superyacht design has become so distinctive lately and often includes on-board features, once associated with what a Bond villain would have on his floating lair, like an internal dock for the yacht’s boats and ‘toys’ like a Seabob – a cross between a jet ski and a submarine – a fully enclosed mini-submarine, or a Hydroflyer harness powered by waterjets and enabling the wearer to climb, swoop and loop up to 20 metres above the water.
Many owners spend extra millions on their bespoke vessel and its extras, only to take delivery and start planning their next one, knowing there is a ready market for sale or charter.
“Trends rotate ever faster now. It used to be that owners wanted a sundeck as high up on the boat as possible; now they want ‘beach club’ terraces so they can get straight into the sea or into tenders, jet skis and be as close to the water as possible.”
And if it all seems a bit frivolous in the face of a global energy crisis, Moore points out that most owners now think about running costs and environmental impact, keenly embracing electric and battery power to supplement power needs.
There is even a growing number of hi-tech superyachts powered mostly by sail, such as the 107-metre Black Pearl, the second largest sailing yacht in the world, built in 2018 and able to cross the Atlantic on wind power alone.
“The yacht industry has run into changeable weather lately, but it’s wrong to say it has been stormy,” said Moore. “I know we’ll see an industry left stronger and even more innovative despite the world’s recent adversity.”
The Man Behind the Rise and Rise of West Nautical
GEOFF MOORE, the man behind superyacht company West Nautical, fell in love with boats at the age of eleven – and the rest, as they say, is history.
He set up West Nautical in 2014 and it has since grown into a major player in the superyacht business with a head office in Newcastle and other offices in the international yachting hubs of Antibes, Limassol, La Spezia and Palma. Another office, in the Newcastle suburb of Jesmond, was opened earlier this year.
The company has also recently expanded its operation in Italy where the permanent project management team has increased in size to oversee several new build yacht projects at the San Lorenzo and Benetti shipyards, which are due to be delivered between 2023 and 2026.
West Nautical can rightly claim to be a full-service superyacht company providing sales, charter, yacht management and crew recruitment.
For Geoff, the slipway to superyachts began when Geoff’s parents rented a small house on the Norfolk Broads that had a day boat. Geoff’s family of four spent every day of their holiday onboard and after having such a good time, invested in a 22-foot riverboat.
Two years later, they upgraded to a 26-foot model, which they still own to this day. When Geoff was 14, his sister joined a marine college in Cornwall and obtained her Yachtmaster qualification, which is how he became aware of the career opportunities available in the maritime industry.
It hasn’t always been plain sailing though and it has taken years of hard work and dedication for Geoff to get where he is right now. His first career move was when he was 18 and joined the Merchant Navy, relocating from Kent to South Shields, which is where his connection with the North East began.
While serving in the Merchant Navy, Geoff gained valuable experience working on commercial ships including cruise liners, ferries, dredgers and cargo vessels.
He had little knowledge of the superyacht industry until an officer he had previously worked with requested his CV for an officer position on M/Y Rising Sun, which was at the time, the world’s largest yacht at 138 metres long.
Geoff was successful in his application to become Second Officer and joined in 2007, starting his career in the luxury sector where he worked onboard seven different yachts in the role of Chief Officer and relief Captain on vessels ranging from 50 to 130-plus metres. He moved ashore in 2011 when his son was born and due to his knowledge of the maritime industry, he was able to transition easily into a shoreside management role.
Geoff’s career has since blossomed, founding West Nautical UK eight years ago and developing it into a thriving full-service superyacht company with 15 full-time employees in the UK as well as international offices in four different locations.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, West Nautical saw yacht sales take off as well as an influx of new-build projects now under management and the company’s growth has shown no signs of slowing down. The West Nautical charter team have more than 75 years’ combined charter experience as superyacht crew as well as shoreside charter managers meaning they know the industry inside out.
A member of the team will guide clients through the process of booking a charter, from presenting a yacht selection to creating a bespoke travel itinerary, desired activities, dietary requirements and personal preferences, as well as any required private travel arrangements.
Sail of the Century – and All Done In Cryptocurrency
WEST NAUTICAL has announced the sale of a superyacht for EUR 6.95 million, which was purchased in cryptocurrency.
With the buyer utilising cryptocurrency via West Nautical’s trading partner, this marked the West Nautical’s largest trade of this type to date.
Geoff Moore said:
“We are seeing more and more cryptocurrency transactions, with many clients using this method to fund the yachts the own or to pay for their charter holidays – and now we have completed a full yacht purchase with a trade from crypto into fiat.
“West Nautical are delighted to be able to work with a wide variety of customers and find payment solutions for all of them.”
The yacht will be managed by Nautical Management Services and available to charter through West Nautical in Dubai office during the winter season at prices from EUR 8,000 per day and will be based in Turkey during the summer at a weekly rate from EUR 80,000.
Striking lines meet open spaces in M/Y Anna-Liza G, which was launched in 2019. Fully equipped for luxury entertaining, she accommodates up to 10 guests in five stylish and contemporary cabins, with a layout that maximises the use of space on board. She features stabilisers both at anchor and underway, ensuring smooth and comfortable cruising at all times.
The vessel has twin MTU engines and a cruising speed of 18 knots, rising to a maximum speed of 25 knots.