Penthouse view: Next generation Superyachts | Alex Holden, Edmiston
July 19, 2023|Luxury Design
hat better time to talk yachts than the height of the Mediterranean season! With much in the press about UHNWIs and their Superyachts we sit down with Alex Holden, Strategy Director of world-renowned yacht brokerage, Edmiston to find out what’s new.
You have always worked in the luxury sector and having worked with Edmiston earlier in your career, what made you make a return to the world of superyachts?
As often is the case, it was a matter of timing. At that particular moment in my career, I was helping a number of friends with emerging businesses to kick start them and accelerate their success. I worked with Jamie during this time, and he explained his vision for the next chapter of the Edmiston story, which was incredibly exciting and bold, and something that was very hard to say no to. I enjoy solving complex problems and driving a team forwards, and this ticked those boxes.
How has the industry changed in those year?
Certainly, the industry has expanded, both in terms of the vessels on the water, but also the companies working within it. There are far more competitors to the main brokerage houses than there used to be. In addition, clients have greater and easier access to information, so our technology and the intelligence we give to our brokers needs to be better and faster to give us an edge. Overall, I would say the industry has continued its journey to professionalisation, and pushes the boundaries in every aspect, from on board safety, to addressing environmental issues, all of which are positives.
When you put your out of office on, where is your favourite destination and dream mooring?
I recently took an early season trip to Kefalonia which was lovely: empty white beaches and turquoise waters, which reminded me of sailing there with my dad when I was young. For me, the ultimate trip for switching off completely, is a Safari. I have been lucky enough to take two trips to Hwange in Zimbabwe in the last few years which have been phenomenal. I would love to take my children back in a few years, when they are old enough to appreciate and understand the trip. There is something very unique about watching wild animals in their natural habitat and learning about their survival techniques as well as immersing yourself in the local cultures.
If you could pick one yacht in the world, which one would it be and why?
As a sailing yacht person, it would have to be something like NGONI. If I had to pick a motor yacht, it would be SAVANNAH. She is Feadship’s first ever hybrid yacht, with clean and quiet electric-diesel performance allied to an extremely efficient hull design for sublime and conscientious cruising. She has an extensive water toy collection and has an underwater observation lounge.
We understand that you enjoy a challenge! What do you have in store for the remainder of the year?
I am running a half marathon at the beginning of October for the Edmiston Foundation alongside UKSA which will be fun. We also have a number of significant infrastructure projects to push through and establish, in the second half of the year. These will take a fair amount of coordination and process change but will lay a really good foundation for our next few years of growth.
For those looking to join the super yachting community….
With the launch of Jeff Bezos’ new yacht Koru, at an impressive 127m in length, have you seen an increase in customers looking for sailing yachts?
Yes, and this is not just Edmiston. Sailing yachts sales accounted for under 10% of the market pre pandemic. In 2022, and so far in 2023, this market share is up over 12%. More sailing yachts over 30m+ have sold in 2022 than in any other year on record. Perini Navi are the most popular large sailing yacht afloat today, and Edmiston have been involved in 50% of the brokerage sales in the past 3 years. We currently have Perini-47 for sale with Edmiston. PERINI 47-M is a redesign of the yard’s 47-metre sloop and includes some new and exciting features, including a carbon fibre mast, a newly engineered keel, plus Perini technology that allows for short-handed operation.
Yacht owners are getting younger by the year, have you seen a marked shift in priorities when a new owner commissions a yacht?
Yes absolutely, many new owners are looking for more of the yachting experience, the relationship with the sea and the beach clubs for example. The connection with the ocean can be important for many, and with so many new designs and beach club features at hand, areas can be created to be a sanctuary for new owners. Initial considerations include usage profile of the vessel, for example is it going to be privately used or available for charter. Then, where is it going to be used and is there a world tour planned or will it be predominantly used in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. There are also more conversations about carbon footprint of the construction of a vessel alongside the operational carbon footprint. Green technologies are pushing the boundaries of yacht design. We are working with a client at the moment where sustainability is at the absolute heart of every decision they make, and there needs to be auditable data behind every material used and all activities of the vessel.
Have you seen an increase in the number of first-time buyers in the last couple of years?
Yes, we have. The pandemic sparked a desire in many clients to go yachting because of the privacy, exclusivity, and exceptional level of service. Many clients start by chartering first, and quickly see the benefits to owning a yacht. It allows them to cruise destinations as they wish and experience world class chefs and amenities. There has been an acceleration in yachting as people realised in the pandemic that they need to enjoy the fruits of their labour now, and not wait for later in life. In addition, people feel much more comfortable working outside the office which allows them to have much more flexibility in their schedule; all the people we deal with are very short of time.
When working with a client to commission a new yacht, how do you ensure you bring the best team on board?
Initially this comes from the broker knowing their client and their family well, and what they want to get from the process of building a yacht. It is then about matching personalities with design and engineering skillsets as well as price point. The benefit of using a highly experienced broker from a global business, like Edmiston, is they can draw upon a huge network of talent and experience to pull together the ultimate team to deliver a project for a client. The process can take five years or more from first discussion of an idea to delivery of the final vessel, so it is very important that all stakeholders are aligned and bought into a common vision.
If a client wants to buy through the brokerage, how much flexibility do they have to update an existing yacht?
Flexibility is at the heart of yachting. With an experienced Edmiston broker and dedicated yacht management team, you can buy a yacht on the brokerage market and begin cruising right away, or personalise your yacht anywhere from a light interior refresh right through to a fully bespoke refit of the interior and exterior. There are endless possibilities. Often when a client buys a brokerage yacht they will use it for one or two trips before undertaking a more fundamental refit – this not only comes down to owners deciding what works they want to do, but then making sure specialist suppliers and the right shipyard are available at the right time to do the works.
Technology moves forward all the time, and the world of yachting is no different, what are the current must haves for sailing and motor yachts?
The landscape for new technology is moving forward rapidly. Innovative propulsions, hydrogen and methanol are at the front of conversations. A major area of development is the usage and capacity of battery technology to provide quieter and cleaner periods of operation when in port or manoeuvring in anchorages. Technology to improve current traditional propulsion is revolutionary, such as peak shaving, which maximises the load of hotel mode onto one generator rather than splitting inefficiently on to two.
From start to finish, how long would a new build or refurbishment take?
Each individual build or refurb is very much a case-by-case scenario. Design complexity, availability of desired shipyard and designer are all major factors. Our team of experts will advise on every aspect of building the perfect yacht to fit your personal requirements, and also building the perfect experience on board. We will advise on all aspects of a build or refurbishment including tenders and toys, and this is particularly relevant when we represent the yacht for charter as well, as guests always want to see the latest toys onboard.
How are client’s looking to future proof their yachts?
Trends for the future of yachting are changing, and new yacht owners are always researching new design features, propulsion (biofuels or hybrid), batteries, regulations on emissions etc. They are always looking to go above and beyond.
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