Marina developers all over the Mediterranean are currently preparing for a new rush for berths. Despite the financial crisis and the downturn in yacht sales and new construction projects that followed September 2008, marina developers and owners are showing great confidence in what the future may bring. There is clearly a wind of optimism in the superyacht marina world, which may be surprising given how many superyacht berths are currently available to rent in areas of the Mediterranean.
What is so bright about the future? Are we again going to see a rush for superyacht moorings, with investment opportunities and possible speculation, as we had seen prior to the financial crisis?
Building New Marinas : The Anticipation of Change
If we go 30 years back in time, in 1984, the yachting world was considerably different. The terms “superyacht” and “megayacht” which we nowadays frequently use, did not really mean anything. In those days yachts over 30 m were relatively scarce in the Mediterranean. There were indeed very large yachts over 50 m (164’) and gigantic ones, but they remained particularly exceptional. Their entering a marina would in those days been seen as an event in itself.
However, change was around the corner. Very few people could have anticipated the growth the yachting industry was going to experience. But that same year of 1984, the recently departed Camille Rayon received permission from the French authorities to implement his vision of creating a quay in the port of Antibes for the largest yachts in the world. Most people then would have found it insane to create docking space for so many gigantic yachts in one place. It may have seemed more sensible in those days to create infrastructure to accommodate cruise ships instead. Could there ever be that many megayachts in the world, and would that many of them want to stay in the South of France?
Nowadays, we know Camille Rayon was right and that this quay often referred to as the “Billionaires’ Quay” that bears his name, has some of the most coveted moorings in the world. In 2007, the rights to moor on one of these berths were resold for a staggering 14,000,000 Euros. And though the selling prices on this quay have decreased over recent years, it remains one of the most exclusive places to moor a megayacht in the Mediterranean.
Vision, forecasting, anticipation, are crucial in the marina world, as building a harbour’s infrastructures, between obtaining planning permission to inaugurating, is a considerably longer process than building a yacht. You need to be able to plan what kind of fleet you are going to shelter and be able to determine how you are going to satisfy your clientele, over the decades to come. Therefore, are these new marina developers also visionaries?
Yacht Berth Sales in France Today
We live in a world of economic pessimism, and the yachting industry is indeed feeling it.
Antibes is often a port of reference for the French yacht-berth market as it has the largest concentration of yachts over 30 metres in one of the most established cruising destinations in the Mediterranean. The turnover of berths there is now down to 8%, having been at a stable 10% for many years, even during 2008 and 2009. The value of berths also seems to be decreasing. Many moorings for the smaller yachts from 20 to 25 metres have sold over the past year, though the average selling price seems to have dropped. The current lowest asking price is 195,000 €
( >> access these berths
). There are too few 30 m berth sales to report, which seems absurd when you realise that prior to 2008, it was almost impossible to find any such berth on the market. They were usually sold before the news that they were available got out on the docks. In 2007
, asking 1,500,000 Euros
for 30 m x 7 m mooring
with a 14 year lease seemed acceptable. Nowadays, 7 years later, the lowest asking price is 400,000 Euros
( >> access these berths
). The price has dropped by more than two thirds. In contrast, we are pleased to report that the largest berth for sale in Antibes in 2014, one of the coveted 80 m berths on the Billionaires’ Quay
, listed by Stuart Larssen at Fraser Yachts, did sell, as well as the only 35 m mooring for sale in the marina, with Charles Erhardt from Camper & Nicholsons representing the Vendor and Franck Combet from Combet Yacht Consultants representing the Buyer. In addition in the first weeks of 2015, another megayacht berth on the Billionaires’ Quay was sold. Therefore, just looking at this marina, the berth market is sluggish in some segments, but there definitely is activity for larger berths.
in August this year, a few miles West on the French Riviera, the modernised port of Saint-Raphaël
was inaugurated. This project featured the creation of a superyacht quay, with a dozen of long term leases for moorings from 30 metres to 45 metres
. Within the few months preceding the inauguration, half these berths were sold to yacht owners, and the marina is already showing signs of saturation with yachts wanting to secure rental contracts. Therefore there is still a demand, where there is opportunity. It must be pointed out that the new “Old Port” of Saint Raphaël is offering long term leases from 15 to 25 years
, and that the marina is equipped with the most modern facilities to be found in the region, located half-way between the hotspots that are Saint Tropez and Cannes.
We believe this optimism in berth investment essentially originates from very encouraging figures, in other words, facts rather than just intuition. Over the past years the shipyard order books have known great upheaval. Though generally, the economy is in decline, the higher-end, the mega-yacht sector, has seen continuous growth. As in most luxury industries, when the going gets tough, when there is economic turmoil, luxury makes tremendous leaps forward satisfying the wealthiest segments of society, whilst the more “accessible” segments of the industry see their market shrink
. It seems this pattern is now applicable to the superyacht industry, if we consider that 80’ to 90’ yachts (24 to 27 metres)
have become “accessible” luxury items, with a sharp contrast between 2009, when 286 orders were reported, and 2014, with only 164 orders then
(refer to graph). Meanwhile, the production of yachts over 250’
(>76 metres) has more than doubled
in 7 years. Yacht orders over 200’ (>60 m) has almost doubled as well. Therefore the superyacht industry is gradually shifting its forces towards the MegaYacht market and it sustained growth. Shipyards are now breaking new records every year, with the current record-breaking project of 222 metres (728’) in length overall, named “TRIPLE DEUCE”.