Spring 2017

Sailing into profit

Hawk Yachts calls for a rethink on the superyacht market

Hawk Yachts (HY), which unveiled an expedition yacht concept called the Sea Hawk back in 2015, is proposing a new era in yachting that has commerciality at its centre. 

At 103 m and 6,400 gt (gross tonnage), the Sea Hawk has 34 features that allow the superyacht to voyage to the ends of the world’s oceans in absolute luxury.

Now, HY is providing a commercial proposition for single or multiple Sea Hawks, accessing, via an extended world tour, the most beautiful and exciting locations in the world.  The yachts will be available for cruise and charter and promises a high rate of return (ROI 20 per cent) for its investors.

In addition, HY has developed fractional models based on both existing and project yachts.  This allows clients the same experience on a shared basis, with the capacity to earn revenue when the yachts are not used through aggressive global charter initiatives. Owners can cruise the oceans in specially designed 45-m yachts that will meet all the needs of safety and comfort.  

“We have developed these yachts with value in mind, starting from a commercial base but adding a superyacht finish. A yacht shared between three will allow each owner two months’ use on a world cruise for as little as 5 million ($5.3 million),” a company spokesman says.  

HY will arrange and look after crew, servicing, provision, itinerary planning and will charter the yacht when unused by owners.  Including depreciation, Opex (operational expenditure), port dues and fuel, the cost per person per day of use is as little as 400 ($430).

 “Many of those in the yacht market, including owners, keep asking the question – what’s next? Is the current superyacht market model sustainable?  Many, of course, will argue for no-change.  The superyacht industry lacks cross industry, experience and know-how with the commercial sector, leaving the yacht sector within its self-made bubble; in turn wishing that the market that we have been privileged to have experienced over the last 20 years will continue,” he says.


Importantly, there are two markets in the yachting industry, he points out. The sub 40-m yacht market has reacted to changing political and economic environments, with readjustment through bad times and upsurges following periods of economic confidence. The 40-m-plus superyacht market, however, has been less dependent on changing economic climate. This market has remained impervious to short-term political and economic trends. 

“These two distinct markets have similarities, in both cases the yachts are underused and in both cases the costs involved are forever escalating.  In the case of the smaller yachts, the second-hand market offsets the cost of purchase through over supply, however the cost of maintaining these yachts is still extremely high.

“The fact is that most superyachts are only used for less than one month.  Waste is a byword for ownership and seasons tend to be short as the universe of yachts is incapable for voyaging outside of calm coastal waters,” he says.

There are over 200,000 ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UNHNWIs), with net worth of $30 million or more and there are some 5,000 yachts in marinas worldwide. A simple calculation shows that 97 per cent of UHNWIs do not own a yacht: hardly surprising with the current cost levels of ownership and lack of usability. “Encouraging these non-users to enter the market should be key to the health of the yacht market of the future.  To those that own a yacht; we should be aware of changing habits and work towards the trending experience requirements, and give reason for further investment,” the spokesman says.

“The past has been defined by extravagance, exhibitionism and wastage, and this has we believed proved to be a key factor in non-ownership. Purpose has taken the back-seat as the quest for ever bigger, grander excessive designs become apparent. These yachts are complex in their engineering thus over-dependent on shore services, they lack the sea-worthiness for true voyaging and the maintenance and running costs are huge.  We believe that there is a tipping point, when cost, wastage and lack of purpose may well affect the total market in a negative way. Attempting to encourage new entries into the market requires some different thinking, and we need to break the inertia of the past,” he says.

“Luxury and adventure is the key, and with the seaworthy capability of the Sea Hawk design, we have opened this up to an increasingly interested market, many of whom represent the 97 per cent of UHNWIs who could afford a yacht but refuse to accept the capital cost and responsibility of ownership.

“Hawk Yachts will also help owners to enjoy the superyacht experience at a fraction of the price.  We want to eliminate the historic superyacht “surcharge” and offer a more realistic value concept.  Structuring a proposition based on ROI, value, purpose and effortless usability will allow us to fish in this very lucrative pond.

“In essence we believe the time has come to think investment, rather than profligacy, profit rather than cost, purpose rather than restriction.  We need to look for different ownership packages, and different usages for yachts and, above all, efficiency,” he says.

“The yacht fleet of today is pretty useless in being able to provide what the future market will require.  Designed for coastal Mediterranean cruising and fair weather, the current fleet has limited purpose.

“The cost of superyachts is ever-increasing; one hears now of build costs of $100-million-plus can reach $500 million.  Commercial ships, on the other hand, have become cheaper. Around $150 million will build a luxury cruise ship of 250 m, but might build a superyacht of 70 m.  This seems disproportionate.  Should the market move more towards the commercial build?  Taking the benefits of the commercial sector will allow for proven technology and if anything, enhanced technology.  Perhaps the future build should be commercial when possible and superyacht when necessary,” he concludes.

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