2021 will go down in history as a boom year for the yacht market. In terms of sales, revenues and orders, its figures put all previous results in the shade. Construction on 154 yachts was completed in 2021. This was more than in 2020 and looks set to go higher still in 2022. At the start of 2022, in fact, a 604 superyachts were in build, a fifth more than the previous year’s 558. Availability on the yacht market is shrinking fast.
It already looks like 2022 will struggle to match 2021’s sales and turnover, partly as a result of difficult circumstances the world is currently facing. Not least the fact that order waiting times at the yards have become longer because of component supply chain difficulties. The war in Ukraine is also hitting the industry directly and indirectly because the conflict definitely doesn’t induce optimism or confidence in the future.
Despite all of this, however, we can most definitely confirm that the yachting market demonstrated enviable and – in some respects – quite unexpected resilience during the pandemic years, particularly compared to other industry and tourism sectors. Below are some of the reasons for this success.
1. A yacht is a happy island where people can live “socially distanced” from the world
Never before has the term “distancing” been more used (and abused). But what better way to socially distance than by safely casting off aboard a yacht to escape dangerous infection. In our era of globalisation, the negative effects of the latter and the fear of the consequences of diseases, it is no surprise that this is very much a rising trend.
Our experience with the virus has greatly influenced the choices owners are making, resulting in many opting for explorer yachts, luxury boats that still retain some supply vessel and tug boat characteristics. Compared to other yachts, these vessels really can tackle any and all conditions and have massive ranges because of their large-capacity tanks and extra stowage areas for provisions. Explorer yachts also need to call to shore much less frequently than traditional ones.
The stunning Virgin Gold is an explorer yacht built by the renowned Horizon Yachts yard. Designed for long expeditions and to reach the most remote ports in complete safety and autonomy, she also has a much superior spec to other explorers. Virgin Gold is in excellent condition and is for sale exclusively through EYI.
2. Casting off to escape lockdowns
The pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns have made people throw caution to the wind and cast off. People who hadn’t owned a yacht before that experience, bought one, while those that already did have one, took the opportunity to set sail. After the pandemic and lockdown, everyone felt the need for more lightness and leisure, hence the whole Carpe Diem philosophy caught people’s imaginations.
In the first nine months of 2021, sales of luxury yachts of over 30 metres rose by 8% compared to the same period in 2019, the last pre-pandemic year. In addition, 200 new builds were launched between January and September 2021, compared to 165 in 2019. Italian Group Ferretti added commissions worth in excess of 900 million euro (1.04 billion US dollars) to its order book between January and September 2021 alone, compared to 691 million euro for the whole of 2019.
In short, the pandemic has made us realise just how fleetingly short life is, enticing us in the process to embrace life’s pleasures more light-heartedly.
Discover Equinoxe Yachts International’s latest sales.
3. A ‘green dream’ yacht
In a reality that has sometimes felt horribly nightmarish, what could be better than a floating home to explore the sea of your dreams? Chartering has often proved a brilliant way of getting around the travel restrictions imposed over the last two years.
The charter boom is proof too of our ongoing desire to cast off in search of distant shores to explore. The charter market exploded in 2021 and this was true despite some of the bookings having been held over from the previous year because of Covid. 2022 looks extremely promising indeed, to judge from the volume of enquiries we have received in the first couple of months of the year. Once again though we need to look back at the previous year and take into account the fact that many owners are making more use of their boats personally. Despite this, there is no doubt that chartering will be talked about in 2022 too.
People’s desire to escapes restrictions and let the wind fill their sails also made 2021 a record year for sailing yacht sales. That applies to both new and pre-owned, with craft with hybrid propulsion proving particularly popular as they are a move towards zero emissions systems.
There is a lot of talk in the industry about eco-engines and all the big yards ae working on pilot projects that will be more environmentally sustainable.
In April 2021, German yard Lürssen announced that it had sold its first green methanol-fuelled yacht. In February 2022, we had news that Sanlorenzo is building a 50m hydrogen-powered yacht, while Silent Yachts of Austria says it will be completing the build of its first solar-powered catamaran, the Silent 100 Explorer, in September.
Contemporaneously, of course, there was an increase in the number of hybrid propulsion boats, which although they don’t guarantee zero emissions, do substantially reduce pollution. Craft equipped with these systems can turn off both engines and generators while at anchor and also run under electric-only propulsion over short distances.