FT Special Report entitled Yachts and Marinas

The Financial Times proposes to publish a Special Report entitled Yachts and Marinas on May 27th, 2011.
The newspaper plans to include the following features and we have been invited to submit four out of the 10 commissioned features. (please note that this list is provisional):

The market for yachts and superyachts proved to be particularly vulnerable to the global financial crisis, with orders cancelled and some manufacturers facing bankruptcy proceedings as demand collapsed in 2009 after a decade of vigorous growth. By the end of last year, however, it seemed that the worst was over. Confidence has now begun to return, prompting a new round of ambitious projects and avant-garde designs. If some traditional buyers remain cautious, other groups of customers have emerged to take their place and reinvigorate a business that combines ancient seafaring traditions with advanced technology, innovation and audacious design. Even so, the dangers of a dramatic rise in oil prices and interest rates and the political upheaval on the southern shores of the Mediterranean will mean further challenges for the industry.

The Future of the Superyacht  If proof is needed of the recovery, Dream Symphony appears to provide it. At 141 metres in length, the vessel to be built in Turkey for a mystery owner is said to be the largest sailing yacht ever built, with naval architecture by Dykstra & Partners and styling from Ken Freivokh Design. Then there is the Beluga, a $200m, whale-shaped motoryacht. Or, on a more modest scale and with an environmental mission in mind, there is PlanetSolar, a 31-metre catamaran designed to circumnavigate the globe under solar power.

Marinas The bane of the superyacht owner, and indeed of the more humble sailor, has long been the shortage of berths in popular resorts and sailing areas. Although the crisis eased the situation somewhat, there is little doubt that Europe in particular suffers from a structural under-supply of marina places given the likely long-term demand.

Marinas and the Mediterranean In the European summer, the Mediterranean is the playground of choice for wealthy yacht-owners, with the Caribbean favoured in the winter. But where is the vessel to be based? Malta or Mallorca? France or Italy? We examine the options.

Who are the New Buyers? American entrepreneurs, western European business moguls and Middle Eastern sheikhs have long been the main buyers of superyachts. But the mix is changing. Russians tycoons, who faltered in recent years, are back in the market, while new entrants include wealthy Brazilians and a handful of Asians.

Security Piracy can no longer be ignored as a threat, particular for yacht crews near the Seychelles and the Gulf of Aden now that pleasure sailors have been captured and in some cases killed by Somali kidnappers seeking ransoms. There are also security risks in the Caribbean, although they are probably no worse afloat than ashore. A combination of the right advice and the right equipment is needed to minimise the risks.

Yacht Shows A guide to the multi-layered world of the yacht show, where Monaco, Cannes and others cater to the upper end of the market while the ordinary “boat shows” of London or Barcelona welcome would-be yacht and motorboat owners with more limited budgets.

Gadgetmania Few yacht owners can resist the range of gadgets, accessories and accoutrements available to put the icing on the cake of their primary purchase.  Among the latest is the Jetboarder, essentially a high-speed, motorised surfboard that gives an experience likened by its makers to “walking on water” – although “running on water” might be more appropriate. 
Racing and Regattas Even the owners of large motor-yachts are often enthusiastic participants in or spectators of sailing races. After the small-boat racing of the Olympics in the UK in 2012, San Francisco will host a transformed America’s Cup in 2013. Instead of the traditional monohulls, the regatta will feature high-tech multihulls powered by wing-sails.

Asia’s Rise Will Asia’s hitherto lukewarm endorsement of yachts and superyachts finally begin to match the region’s proven economic might? The signs are certainly there, including the beginnings of an awakening in mainland China and a drive by Singapore to establish itself as a superyacht hub.
Special Reports are written by FT staff journalists and a small number of selected freelance writers. They will be specialists in the field and already have regular contacts to update them. It is therefore difficult for an unsolicited submission to be so compelling that it forces its way on to a writer’s agenda. However, it does happen occasionally.

■ Recently published Surveys and FT Reports, as well as a list of forthcoming FT
■ Reports and their synopses can be downloaded by going to www.ft.com/specialreports and then clicking on the link to the FT Reports database.
■ For website assistance please call + 44 (0) 20 7775 6297.
Back issues of printed Survey and FT Reports can be obtained from:  Historic Newspapers, Signature Online Limited, No 1 waterside Station Road, Harpenden, Herts, AL5 4US;  Tel. no: 0870 165 1470; Fax no: 01582 469 248; or email: info@back-issue-newspapers.co.uk