Skip to main content

Superyacht Sales Spike As Wealthy Escape

 Superyacht sales are up as much as 200 percent, as UHNW try to escape the pandemic. 

Lucky Lady by Fraser

Among the industries which COVID has benefitted, superyacht vendors rank near the top. It makes sense. After 18 months of lockdowns, 'pingdemics', quarantining and travel bans, wouldn't it be blissful to set sail on a luxurious boat with your family, and forget it all, just for a few weeks? 

For many Ultra High Net Worth that is a fortunate reality. Brokers have sold 83% of last year’s entire superyacht capacity in the first six months of 2021, as the promise of a record-breaking year for sales continues to unfold, exclusive BOAT Pro data reveals. Sales of superyachts (new and pre-owned boats 24 metres-plus) by brokers in 2021 continued to significantly outperform previous years as demand for vessels tracks increasingly higher, driven in part by coronavirus lockdown restrictions and travel safety concerns.

During the first half of 2021 (January–June), 344 superyachts exchanged hands through brokers with an average asking price of €8.9M, or €3bn overall. Comparatively, total sales for the 12 months of 2020 reached 414 and 406 in 2019.

High transactions stem from pent-up demand, according to brokers. During the first half of 2020, just 165 sales were recorded as the first waves of coronavirus spooked buyers.

Earlier this year BOAT Business reported a record month of brokerage sales in May at 75, however, June swiftly took the mantle at 79 sales.

That is hardly surprising. For the top 1 percent, the pandemic has been beneficial to their balance sheets. According to Credit Suisse Research Institute in its annual Global Wealth Report, wealth creation in 2020 was largely immune to the challenges facing the world due to the actions taken by governments and central banks to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19. Total global wealth grew by 7.4 percent and wealth per adult rose by 6 percent to reach another record high of US$79,952. "The reduction in consumption opportunities due to lockdowns, combined with income-support programs, led to a rise in saving for many people," said the report. 

Wheels by Fraser

With stock markets surging and many being sat on more savings than usual, there has been an "unprecedented boom" in yacht sales, says Raphael Sauleau, CEO of Fraser, a luxury yachting company. 

"There is demand and there is money. 2021 will be Fraser’s best year ever in terms of number of yachts sold," he said. Sales are up 200 percent in 2021 over last year, and to give a sense of the velocity, in ten business days Fraser sold 13 vessels above 79 feet in length.

Another major industry player, Heesen, has also reported record-breaking sales in 2020. “In times when it is so tricky to move around, a superyacht represents the safest way to spend time with your family,” said Mark Cavendish, executive commercial officer at Heesen, in a story in Harpers Bazaar. 

Some 90 percent of the current demand for yachts is COVID-related, believes Sauleau, and 30-40 percent of this year's buyers are new to yachting. "There is a pent-up need to get out and travel and get together with family and friends. People want to celebrate by spending money on experiences with their families and friends - bring everyone together and leave with memories that last a lifetime."

"Of course, a yacht is a self-contained vessel of privacy and safety out on the water.  There is a 'seize the day' mentality.  Some people’s net assets rose last year while they spent little, and they are ready to indulge," says Sauleau.

He adds that the most popular destinations for yachting this summer are the Western Mediterranean, which includes Monaco, France, Italy, Spain and Malta, which ranks number one for superyachts due to its accessibility from Europe and America. "Its natural beauty, glamour, idyllic islands and azure seas make it a famous yachting destination for good reason. Greece is also a very attractive destination."

The Caribbean is number two, he says, especially in winter holidays but gained in popularity over the summer season last year and this year, specifically the British Virgin Islands. "Consistent trade winds, clear water, sun-filled days and easy navigating among 60 picturesque islands make it a favourite among both novices and captains. The BVI’s North Sound is often referred to as the Billionaire’s Playground."