With an estimated 70 superyachts having visited Bermuda for the America’s Cup, this North Atlantic island now has ambitions to attract more such yachts and enhance its position as a key location for them.
Writing in his monthly blog under the heading of ‘Season of Superyachts’, Ross Webber, the CEO of the Bermuda Business Development Agency(BDA), talks of Bermuda, sharing with Monaco, Capril, St Tropez and St Bart’s as a key superyacht destination.
This he sees as part of the inheritance of holding the America’s Cup and the three new marinas, plus others planned, that have come with it. Talking about them in his blog he says: “Well, this season, ‘plenty’ made port in Bermuda, thanks to the America’s Cup—with a plethora of luxury yachts filling docksides, bays, moorings and marinas throughout our island.”
“From Ordnance Island and Granaway Deep to Deep Bay and Paradise Lakes all the way out to Dockyard, no view of a seascape was lacking an über-elegant, multi-tiered floating palace,” he continued. “We won’t soon forget the impressive 96m(315ft) hull of motor yacht Vava II, dwarfing her neighbours along Front Street’s Pier 1. Or steel-grey Skat masquerading as a warship. Or the Star Wars-esque square-rigger Maltese Falcon under full sail off Murray’s Anchorage.”
He reports that: “The presence of an estimated 70 superyachts has been one of the greatest spinoff benefits of the 35th America’s Cup regatta for Bermuda, and could represent a lucrative legacy. Why? The first reason, of course, is that the vessels themselves are gargantuan spending machines, catalysts for continual purchases of fuel, provisions, and marine supplies necessary to run a boat of this scope.”
Whether motor- or sail-powered, these commercially-operated luxury vessels are deemed ‘superyachts’ when they measure a minimum 24 metres. They’re either used exclusively by owners, operated as year-round charters, or some combination of the two. It’s an industry in which, at any time, an owner may have one yacht to cruise on, while two more are being custom-built.
He suggests that aside from basic operational costs, including dockage, these vessels are essentially high-end boutique hotels on the water, requiring accoutrements like caviar, champagne, fine wines, food for decadent meals, chefs to make them, and extras such as fresh-cut flowers every day for their multitude of salons and cabins. When personal spending is added into the mix, it’s no wonder our stores and restaurants have been a flurry of activity.
He speaks of a recent study commissioned by the BTA which estimates that a 90m(295.5ft) vessel spends approximately $50,000 weekly, and that figure jumps to $127,000 if the owner is on board. The global superyacht fleet continues to grow, both in size and average length of boat, the study noted, a trend expected to continue for the next five years. What does the superyacht community desire from a destination? Privacy, good marina facilities and a pleasant cruising itinerary, the study found—all factors Bermuda can easily provide.
Webber talks of the parallel aviation tie-in with superyachts in that matching the the sheer number of vessels on the water is an almost equal number of private jets that deliver boat owners, their family, friends, guests, and VIP charter clientele to and from onshore centres during periods their yachts spend here.
He suggests that: “Such traffic offers Bermuda a tremendous opportunity to grow the island’s shipping and aviation registers—both long-time economic generators that boast top-tier reputations.”
In addition with the ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWI) and the standard HNWIs Webber reports: “Therein lies huge opportunity for investment and business development. Real estate is a natural focus, of course, but so are trusts and private-client vehicles, family offices, private equity and captive insurance companies. Bermuda has long been a sought-after international financial centre for serving high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs), and here is a target market delivered directly to our doorstep.”
“With three spanking new marinas (Dockyard, Hamilton Princess, Caroline Bay), and another planned for St George’s,” he suggests, “we can pull out all the stops to attract megayachts and this type of clientele. Many that visited during AC35 were here for the first time, and Bermuda should capitalise on their recent experience to keep them coming back.”
Taking account of all this he envisions Bermuda joining such as Monaco and St Tropez as a front running superyacht destination.
“How do we achieve that?” he asks. “For starters, current regulations on charter and length of stay for yachts under foreign flags need to be addressed and relevant legislation updated. At the BDA, we are actively working with the island’s marinas and industry groups such as Bermuda Yacht Services, Caroline Bay, Boat International, My Yacht Group and BWA Yachting to explore opportunities and help secure this future business.”