The superyacht building boom has created a supply shortage and a crew shortage


The superyacht “Kismet”, currently owned by Pakistani-American billionaire Shahid Khan, is seen moored near Tower Bridge on October 21, 2021 in London, England.

Leon Neal | Getty Images

More than 1,000 superyachts are now in production or on order, as the world’s ultra-rich seek refuge from crowds and Covid-19 on their nine-figure floating palaces.

According to Boat International’s 2022 global order book, a record 1,024 superyachts – defined as yachts over 80 feet – are under construction or on order, up 25% from the previous year, exceeding peaking in 2008. With shipyards scrambling to meet demand, wealthy buyers are being told they have to wait three to five years for custom orders.

“The shipyards are very full,” said Jonathan Beckett, CEO of Burgess, a yacht brokerage and management company. “They are doing their best to meet customer requirements, but it is not easy.”

From Jeff Bezos’ new 416-foot sailboat to Project Black Shark, a mysterious 252-foot yacht designed with “sharkskin,” the number and size of vessels under construction are unprecedented, according to industry executives. The total length of the superyachts scheduled for delivery by 2026 would be more than 24 miles, according to Boat International.

Superyachts can cost anywhere from $ 2-3 million to over $ 500 million, depending on their size and complexity.

Most of the demand comes from the United States, where surging stock markets, IPOs, PSPC deals and crypto gains have created billions of dollars in wealth during the pandemic, Beckett said. The United States currently has 500 more billionaires than before the pandemic, ending the year with around 2,755, according to Forbes.

Many new and existing ultrarichs have ramped up their plans to buy a superyacht over the past two years amid growing public health concerns, Beckett said.

Workers pass materials as they set up scaffolding around a superyacht at the MB92 Group’s shipyard in Barcelona, ​​Spain on Wednesday, November 17, 2021.

Angel Garcia | Bloomberg | Getty Images

“Covid has made people sit down and reassess their lives,” Beckett said. “A lot of our customers felt impenetrable and safe, and I think Covid made them vulnerable. So they said, ‘Why put off another five or 10 years to buy a yacht and have fun with my family then that I could do it today? ‘ “

The rush created shortages of crew, dock space and shipyards. Yacht builders around the world – but mainly in Italy, the Netherlands and Germany – are grappling with labor and material shortages, and space constraints.

According to Boat International, the superyacht inventory is sold for 2022, most for 2023 and “2024 is already being considered on the semi-custom front.” The number of boats started without owners – or “on specification” – is now the lowest on record.

While prices in the superyacht industry are highly variable and opaque, demand is pushing prices up, Beckett said.

“Prices for new ‘construction’ are increasing,” he said. “It’s difficult for shipyards to come up with a fixed price because the cost of materials can increase over the next 12-24 months, but at the end of the day everyone wants a fixed price contract. “

Today’s state-of-the-art superyachts have typical amenities like swimming pools, helipads, jet ski garages, and gymnasiums, but some include the sought-after “beach club” – a huge recreation area. aft which has retractable balconies, lounge decks, spas and dining areas that provide easy access to and from the water.

The largest motor superyacht delivered this year was the 464-foot “North” built by German Lurssen Yachts. It has a retractable helicopter hangar, a sports and diving center, 14 custom tenders (the boats used to get to and from the ship) and a submarine.

A growing number of buyers are ordering “expedition” superyachts, which are rugged, military-style explorers that can navigate through ice, storms and harsh conditions to explore the far corners of the world. Orders for them have jumped 33% this year, according to Boat International.

Beckett said buyers of these types of superyachts appreciate them in the same way as adventure vehicles like Land Rovers and the Mercedes-AMG G 63 SUV.

“Expedition yachts are a trend,” Beckett said. “People like the look, but people who buy expedition yachts usually don’t do a lot of expeditions. They are more likely to be anchored offshore. [the French Riviera’s] Cap-Ferrat. “

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