Electrification is a key theme and popularity is increasing for vessels like this Silent Yachts 60 catamaran which relies on solar power
Electrification is a key theme and popularity is increasing for vessels like this Silent Yachts 60 catamaran which relies on solar power
Image: Supplied

It’s been a long couple of years and most business news has not been great, especially on big-ticket items. But one industry has bucked the trend — superyachts. The Covid-19 pandemic brought on a boom for the industry as the wealthy sought privacy and the ultimate in social distancing aboard luxury yachts. The upshot is that 2021 wasn’t just a good year, it was the best year for the industry, ever.

It wasn’t just new yachts either. According to the latest State of Yachting report, used yacht sales were up 50% in 2021 . Well, let’s face it, not everyone wants to wait years for a new yacht to be built — and they’re willing to pay too, as the average price of a used superyacht climbed nearly $1m to $11.8m in 2021.

Superyacht charters increased in 2021 as more people sought new and luxurious holidays.
Superyacht charters increased in 2021 as more people sought new and luxurious holidays.
Image: Supplied

In total, 154 superyachts were constructed and the report by the intelligence unit of Superyacht Times says 180 built are expected to be built in 2022. There’s potential for that number to be higher, as the current number under construction stands at 604 in all the major shipyards around the world producing yachts longer than 30m. The simple fact is that there just aren’t enough shipbuilders and qualified people to build more at the moment. That said, there are some new yards in the game, and of the 237 active shipyards, 30 are building their first superyacht.

Sales of new yachts may have doubled in 2021, but that figure only tells part of the story because while it applies to yachts measuring 30m-40m, sales of yachts between 60m and 80m, tripled. There’s serious money out there being spent at the moment.

Now, at this point, you’re probably thinking this is all more Business Day than Wanted, but it tells a fascinating story of what the wealthy are spending their money on, a story closely tied to the pandemic and the global economic situation. And, yes, before you ask, there are some Russian-owned superyachts on the market, though a number are subject to seizure orders and so cannot be sold or used or possibly even maintained.

On the subject of Russians, they do have the second-highest number of superyachts over 40m. Who has the most? Not surprisingly, that’s the US, with 23% of the global fleet. Russia is actually quite far behind at 9%, followed by the UK and Greece, whose owners both have 6% of the fleet.

We’re in real danger of being all about the stats here, but how’s this for a conversation starter this weekend: despite all the sanctions against Russia, 13% of all the big yachts being built now are for Russian clients, though whether they will be able to crack a bottle of champagne on the bow when the vessel is completed remains to be seen.

Orders for sailing yachts are increasing. This is the Iddes Yachts Sail 55 which also has batteries that power it when moored.
Orders for sailing yachts are increasing. This is the Iddes Yachts Sail 55 which also has batteries that power it when moored.
Image: Supplied

Right, let’s leave the percentages behind and talk about some trends, because that’s a bit more Wanted. One of the industries that most needs to adopt environmental change is yachting, and for that matter any type of marine vessel, including shipping and cruise lines. One of the most environmentally friendly types of yacht is the sailing yacht, and there’s an increasing trend to use this oldest way to travel on the seas.

Even in the case of sailing yachts with engines, there’s a switch to hybrid, with wind power being used to top up the batteries of electric motors. Then there are larger pure-electric vessels, such as a new 30m catamaran being built by Silent Yachts to run on solar power. Lürssen Yachts even took an order for its first hydrogen fuel-cell-powered yacht in 2021.

Owners are seeking more environmental propulsion and some yards are looking at hydrogen, such as for this Lurssen Alice concept.
Owners are seeking more environmental propulsion and some yards are looking at hydrogen, such as for this Lurssen Alice concept.
Image: Supplied

There’s a trend downwards too, and by this we mean down in age. There are more owners in their 20s and 30s, often first-time yacht buyers, and more young people are working across the industry, and not just as crew. More people are being attracted to the business in the fields of design and engineering, fascinated by what is a fascinating industry and lifestyle.

Then there’s the virtual world. The most obvious thing here is that more people are viewing and buying yachts virtually, but 2021 saw the real arrival of the metaverse. If you still aren’t sure what it’s all about, fear not,  as you are definitely not alone. This year has already seen the sale of the first superyacht non-fungible token (NFT). What’s confusing is that it comes with a physical superyacht that is under construction. So has the new owner bought a token or a yacht?

Africa now has the second-highest average length of vessel at 58m, up 3% on 2021. So, own up, who bought a really big yacht in the past year?

Another NFT we are aware of is up for $95m and will come with a 63m yacht. So can the owner sell the token and keep the yacht, or vice versa? If anyone wants to lend us $95m, we’ll be glad to clarify this for you. Oh, and we daren’t post a picture of it in case someone copies the image and sells it as an NFT artwork. If you choose to screenshot this article and sell it as an NFT, please do share the proceeds — we’re saving to buy a virtual yacht, you know.

If like us you can’t afford a yacht of your own, then there’s always chartering. This increased too in 2021 and this year looks to be even better. There might be a few supply issues, though, because many owners are using their yachts more often, which impedes their charter usage. Also, quite a few Russian-owned vessels are off-limits for chartering too, but the industry is looking more popular than ever and we have no doubt that quite a few are choosing to charter while deciding whether to buy.

Order books are full for superyacht builders around the world such as here at Feadship in the Netherlands.
Order books are full for superyacht builders around the world such as here at Feadship in the Netherlands.
Image: Supplied

Finally, while Africa is quite far down the list when it comes to the number of superyachts owned, in 2021 it shot up to second place behind the Middle East in terms of average size of vessel. Africa now has the second-highest average length of vessel at 58m, up 3% on 2021. So, own up, who bought a really big yacht in the past year?

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