Yachts are hardly a mass market product and yet the superyacht market has carved out a niche in being even more exclusive, but how much does a yacht cost to build, buy or rent? Let's take a look at the current state of the market.
Since the 1980s the amount of superyachts, ie yachts over 24 meters, has grown 600% with the worldwide fleet now counting over 10,000 vessels compared to around 1,500 in 1979. Deliveries of large sailing yachts have however remained constant throughout the decades with around 45 S/Y built per year since the 70s.
This exponential growth was brought mainly by the construction of motor yachts. Indeed, the ratio of M/Y to S/Y built has exploded from 2 in the 1980s to a whooping 7 motor yachts delivered for each sailing yacht under construction today. As a result sailing yachts have often retained value better than their counterparts.
The expansion of the worldwide fleet of superyachts has also had another significant effect, the accelerated depreciation of yachts on the brokerage market. A 43-meter Benetti Vision 145 could for example be built at a cost of €21,9 million in 2014 whereas a 10-year old model in mint condition such as M/Y Dia's could be bought for just €8 million on the brokerage market.
This large difference in price is however not unique to this case and can be found across almost all yacht manufacturers. Heesen, a well-known Dutch shipyard, is currently selling its 47-meter Project Ruya for €29,9 million. Its 2012 sistership, Lady Petra is however up for sale at the same time asking €22,500,000, down from her initial asking price of €31 million when it was first listed for sale in 2014.
On top of the initial purchase price must however also be added the yearly maintenance fees amounting to roughly 10% of the initial price of a new build. For a 55-meter yacht for example, this would represent close to $3 million per year.
Crew salaries today represent the largest of those expenses with the starting salary of a deckhand onboard a 50-meter yacht orbiting around $40,000 per year and going over $200,000/year for captains on larger yachts. The balance sheet is further burdened with fuel costs, repairs and operating costs such as uniforms and food for the crew.
To offset the operating costs, some owners turn to renting out their yachts to guests, which has created a market with near 1,400 yachts for charter throughout the world. Before the subprime crisis, these could represent a genuine business opportunity with some UHNWIs even building superyachts with solely charter in mind.
Few yachts are however able to fully recoup their maintenance costs in today's market. The 72-meter Axioma for example, one of the most popular charter yachts on the market, generated over €7 million in revenue from charters in its first year alone. Yet, its current asking price of €68 million suggest these have barely outperformed operational costs.
Many have therefore claimed that chartering a yacht has become the only financially justifiable option. It can indeed be argued that a like-new, 50-meter yacht could be chartered for near €250,000 per week during the summer season. To those would be added around 25% in fees of advanced provisioning, which would cover food, fuel, berthing fees and other expenses whilst charter guests are on board.
Annual operating costs of such a yacht would be near €2 million per year, which equates to nearly 6 and a half weeks of charter. It would therefore seem one would need to spend at least two months onboard to justify the operating costs, let alone the full purchase price. Yet, every year, dozens of new build projects are started despite this financial reasoning.
Prior to the 2008 crisis, an industry of yacht flippers had emerged with clients buying a slot for a superyacht at a prestigious shipyard and then reselling the yacht slightly before its launch. US businessman, Warren E. Halle had ordered 3 yachts from Lurssen in 2003, which he paid for €48 million a piece plus the cost of interior finishing. As following legal proceedings revealed, he later sold the first yacht (Project Marlin) for €65 million in 2006, the second one for €71,5 million in 2008 and kept the third one (Martha Ann) for himself, which is now on the market asking $79 million.
This market has since evaporated with many shipyards that had committed to build on speculation, in order to retain ownership of their slots throughout the construction, facing difficult financial times. Italian shipyard Baglietto posted losses of €105 million in 2009 and was ultimately only saved by the Gavio Group, which brought it back to financial stability. Yet, despite this turmoil, at least 700 superyachts are currently under construction.
Photo via Dutch Yachting
The megayacht market is at the moment particularly strong with at least 6 projects over 100 meters currently in build at Lurssen alone and several other shipyards working on their largest yachts to date such as Benetti and Feadship. Historically this high demand for megayachts in the past decade has allowed their sales prices to remain higher than construction prices due to the gains in time a brokerage purchase offered.
In 2011 for example, the late Russian oligarch, Boris Berezovsky managed to sell his Project Darius, under construction at Lurssen at the time, for €240 million to the Al Futtaim. He had however paid just €148,5 million, plus interior finishing costs, for the project as became known in a legal process that followed.
A growing concern for superyacht builders has however become the increasing gap between the increasing number of individuals with a net worth of over €250 million and the stagnant number of new build projects. Some have speculated that a possible explanation for this shift is a disinterest with the new generation of younger UHNWIs to own yachts and an increasing preference to charter by picking from an ever-growing fleet.
Dutch shipyard, Feadship has however delivered the 70-meter Joy, first yacht to boast an exterior design by Bannenberg & Rowell in modern history, to their youngest client yet. As a testament to her owner's young age, the superyacht features a basketball court on the bow and a gym surrounded by glass walls on the bridge deck.
Despite all the financial reasoning that might nudge UHNWIs to charter rather than own, over 350 superyachts were sold in 2016 showing that the reasons behind owning a yacht might actually be dominated by the pleasure and freedom that owners get from their own superyacht.
AES Yacht, a shipbuilder from Turkey, has unveiled a 50-meter superyacht concept AES 50. She has a gross tonnage under 500 GT, a steel displacement hull and a lightweight aluminum superstructure.She has an exterior with clean, elegant lines and two distinctive wings that flow off the bridge deck to create prime vantage points for seafarers. Her main features are the spacious sundeck with a swimming pool with a terrific view and a bar, an open waterfront beach club, a dining area for 10 persons on the upper deck aft. AES 50 can accommodate 12 guests onboard. Equipped with twin Caterpillar engines the superyacht will have a top speed of 14.5 knots and cruise at 11.5 knots.AES Yacht is located in Kocaeli Free Zone, Turkey. The company is building mega-yachts made of steel and aluminum. Credits: AES Yacht
February 1, 2023
Heesen has launched the Project SkyFall at its facility in Oss on January 27 and christened M/Y Ultra G. This is the shipyard's first launch of 2023. Ultra G’s layout is conceived to welcome friends aboard for sociable fishing adventures while allowing the master apartment to maintain a necessary level of privacy, peace and quiet on the bridge deck with its private terrace. A hot tub, a large walk-in wardrobe and an ample bathroom with a central oval bath and separate shower stall provide all the home comforts.Entertaining family and friends is the raison d’être of all social areas, indoors and out. A custom wine fridge, with discrete sections at different temperatures, takes pride of place in the main saloon. The media room, home to a Samsung The Wall screen 1814mm by 8063mm and an elegant games table on the main deck forward, is undoubtedly the pièce de résistance. The sundeck, with its infinity pool facing aft, is ideal for receptions and musical entertainments.Canine guests are well taken care of too, thanks to a series of carefully thought-out details to make their life at sea as safe and stress-free as possible. Among several features, the most notable is certainly the 'relief area', a self-flushing area of the side deck finished in synthetic grass, complete with sensors, cameras and sprinklers.13 crew will be on hand to take care of 10 guests, with discreet separate routing allowing them to seamlessly service every area of the yacht.Ultra G's thunder will come from 22,000 horsepower generated by four MTU 20V 4000 engines, driving four Kongsberg S90 waterjets. The outer engines, compliant with the latest Tier III environmental regulations, drive steerable jets, while the center engines operate fixed booster units. With less back-pressure and a slightly higher power output, the center engines will be used solely for the highest speeds. Waterjet drives lower the yacht's draft to less than three meters and reduce vibration by 40 per cent compared with traditional shafts and propellers.Thanks to its lightweight aluminum Fast Displacement Hull Form, complete with course fins, gyro stabilizers and interceptor trim plates, MY Ultra G will reach a top speed of 37 knots in light load conditions. Her efficient FDHF hull will also deliver a much smoother, flatter ride compared to a conventional semi-displacement shape, while its extra volume offers plenty of space for equipment and amenities. Three gyro-stabilizers will keep the yacht comfortable at low speeds.Ultra G is now undergoing system commissioning testing before leaving Oss for intensive trials in the North Sea.Heesen Yachts is a Dutch ship building company that specializes in custom-built superyachts in aluminum and steel from 30m to 70m in size. Founded in 1978, it has launched more than 170 yachts since its inception.Credits: Heesen Yachts
February 1, 2023
Panamax sloop Nilaya has departed from her construction hall at the builder’s Vollenhove facility in preparation for the installation of her towering rig in Amsterdam. Nilaya’s racy, low profile with its straight bow, wide transom, and twin rudders, echoes the look of her owners’ previous highly successful maxi-racer of the same name. Not surprisingly, she is from the boards of the same naval architecture and design firms, Reichel / Pugh and Nauta, both firms with impressive reputations for high-performance sailing yachts. Exploring all the options for a luxurious performance cruiser also capable of podium finishes at superyacht regattas, the team made full design studies for the yacht in both carbon and aluminum using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to optimize hull shape and balance. Royal Huisman’s Featherlight™ method, an evolution of nearly 60 years of aluminum yacht-building experience melded with the latest carbon technology, provides her owners the best of both materials for a no-compromise yacht. Nauta Design’s Mario Pedol noted that the choice of primary hull material did not fundamentally change the yacht’s layout or total weight. “With Reichel / Pugh, we set the target weight. Royal Huisman really embraced the concept. It was a very good process, good collaboration.” The Featherlight™ process makes use of Finite Element Analysis (FEA), a design methodology rooted in spacecraft technology. FEA modeling enabled selecting various construction materials and varied Alustar aluminum plate thicknesses and frame spacing to maximize hull stiffness while minimizing total displacement. With engineering and weight management brought in-house, the approach was comprehensive, extending to lighting, insulation, and all mechanical systems. The interior, too, benefited from careful weight analysis. All interior structural members utilize lightweight foam coring. Capturing the carbon fiber expertise of its sister company Rondal, Royal Huisman’s engineering team used this synergy to analyze and predict which structural components would be best made of composites or aluminum. For example, the entire 17.5m / 57-foot curvaceous coachroof and guest cockpit structure are carbon composite. Likewise, the recessed tender well on the foredeck (that transforms to a seating area for cruising or a flush deck for racing) is also carbon composite as are a watertight bulkhead, crew entrance, twin rudders, the keel trunk and a cockpit bimini hardtop.Project 405 is also the first yacht of this size range designed to take advantage of structured luff sail design pioneered by Doyle Sails, a choice that allowed the entire Rondal mast, rig, and components to be lighter — a key point considering her Panamax air draft. To take advantage of the very narrow headsail sheeting angles possible, Rondal created a radical new curved carbon fiber spreader design that is both shorter and more aerodynamic than anything previously available. Rondal also supplied new generation hybrid (carbon and aluminum) captive winches, hatches and various sail handling gear. Most deck hardware is titanium. "The success of the innovations with Project 405 paves the way to use this bold new approach for future builds. I am proud of the investment we have made in advanced engineering and of the way teams from Royal Huisman and Rondal advanced new solutions to meet the brief from very knowledgeable clients and designers. The owners as well deserved congratulations for pushing everyone to achieve just a little bit more and for encouraging innovation at every step. Nilaya will be the world’s lightest aluminum sailing superyacht for her length: she rewrites the script for high-performance superyachts,” says Jan Timmerman, Royal Huisman CEO.The 46.8-meter Project 405 Nilaya will be delivered to her owners in the coming months.Royal Huisman is a Dutch shipyard established in 1884 in Ronduite, building and refitting custom luxury sailing and motor yachts at its shipyard in Vollenhove, the Netherlands.Credits: Tom van Oossanen/Royal Huisman
February 1, 2023
Northrop & Johnson has announced its newest strategic partnership with Space Perspective, the world’s only carbon-neutral space travel company, unlocking exclusive access to a transformative journey to space for select clients.With plans to launch in 2024, with over 1,000 tickets sold, Space Perspective has totally reimagined and reengineered human spaceflight. They offer a safe, gentle, and carbon-neutral journey to space on board Spaceship Neptune, a pressurized capsule propelled by a SpaceBalloon™️ the size of a football stadium. During their six hour journey, traveling at 12 mph, Space Explorers will enjoy cocktails, Space Gastronomy, Wi-Fi and more all without the need for rigorous training or the stress of crushing g-forces.“Our collaboration with Space Perspective will take our already stellar roster of experiences and luxury client exclusives to the literal next frontier, space!” says Daniel Ziriakus, President & COO of Northrop and Johnson. Daniel Ziriakus“Our mission is to share the transformative power of space travel with the whole world and partners like Northrop & Johnson help us reach a whole new group of Space Explorers who are keen to have the transformative experience of seeing our vulnerable earth floating in the blackness of space,” said Jane Poynter, Founder and Co-CEO of Space Perspective.Northrop & Johnson has reserved two Spaceship Neptune flights, totaling 16 seats, in phase two of Space Perspective’s 2025 flight schedule. Space Perspective is based on Florida’s Space Coast, and was co-founded by space entrepreneurs Jane Poynter and Taber MacCallum. The company is operated by an elite team that has been instrumental in the development of every US human spacecraft and SpaceBalloonTM flight for the past 40 years.Since 1949, Northrop & Johnson has offered yachting experiences from yacht sales and purchase to yacht charter and charter marketing to yacht management of the world’s most impressive luxury vessels, and expert crew placement services, Northrop & Johnson offers a total-service approach.Credits: Northrop & Johnson
January 31, 2023
Riva 130’ Bellissima is a flybridge yacht with an overall length of 40 meters. The second unit built of Riva’s flagship model was launched on behalf of a European owner last Friday in La Spezia. After recently undergoing major expansion and architectural restyling work, the La Spezia yard now extends over a total surface area of more than 39,000 sq. m, of which 17,000 under cover. Riva 130’ Bellissima has exterior styling and interiors by Mauro Micheli and Sergio Beretta, founders of Officina Italiana Design, the design firm behind all Riva’s yachts for the last 27 years, working in partnership with the Product Strategy Committee led by Piero Ferrari, and the Ferretti Group Engineering Department. With an overall length of over 40 meters and a beam of 8 meters, Riva 130’ Bellissima is the first planning flybridge in the range to extend across three real decks, with a full-wide-body design and generous volumes in every setting, while remaining under 300 GT.“The name Bellissima perfectly expresses the spirit of this boat, a true work of art that has been a huge success on all four continents,” said Alberto Galassi, Ferretti Group CEO. “With her sporty but at the same time extremely elegant lines, Riva 130’ Bellissima is the dream yacht of every owner in search of outstanding cruising performance combined with the feeling of being at home.”Carbon fiber, steel and glass are the distinctive elements of the hull design, which features three simple lines running along the silhouette: two black strokes along the yacht’s silvery side define the hull windows, while the windshield, made with spherical crystals, has the characteristic slight forward rake already used on the Riva 48’ Dolceriva. The outdoor areas are optimized to fully experience close contact with the water: the stern area, set low and open to the water, is divided into a large beach club and a cockpit of over 60 sq. m. Forward, guests can choose between a lounge, a large sun pad and other intimate and inviting spaces. The exterior spaces are rounded out by an alfresco dining area, accommodating up to ten people on the upper deck, and a relaxation area on the sundeck.The interior design is contemporary, pointed up by elements made from steel, polished wood and leather, and achieves the perfect balance between celebrating tradition and reaching into the future. The star feature of Riva 130’ is the large lounge on the main deck: with a 270-degree panoramic view and a height of over 2 meters, this one-of-a-kind space features an imposing staircase with polished marble steps that not only connects the decks, but is also a magnificent architectural element.The cabin layout puts the master suite on the main deck and four cabins on the lower deck, separated by a large lobby and all with en suite bathrooms.Riva 130’ Bellissima is powered by twin MTU 16V 2000 M96L engines rated 2,638 mhp each, giving her a top speed of 22,5 knots and a cruising speed of 20 knots.The Ferretti Group, led by Chief Executive Officer Alberto Galassi, is now one of the world’s leaders in the construction and sale of luxury yachts and pleasure vessels, with a unique portfolio of brands: Ferretti Yachts, Riva, Pershing, Itama, Mochi Craft, CRN, Custom Line and Wally.Credits: Ferretti Group
January 31, 2023