I’m on a boat! Inside the pandemic superyacht boom

Like 90’s-style faded jeans and lockdown-inspired mullets, superyachts are back — and bigger than ever. But how did the status symbol set sail once again in the pandemic?

While the Coronavirus pandemic saw many of us hunker down with an over-loaded internet connection, a comfortable pair of pyjamas and a perhaps laissez faire attitude to maintaining regular office hours while we waited for everything to blow over, the super rich were out buying yachts.

Let’s clarify that: this isn’t just the rich buying yachts. This is the super rich, buying superyachts. 

Let’s clarify that further: this is the world’s richest man buying a $500 million, 417 foot yacht.

But the Amazon founder wasn’t alone in investing in maritime pursuits. Joining Bezos in purchasing floating palaces was a whole coterie of ocean-appreciating billionaires. 

In fact, so busy was the pandemic that yacht world aggregators Boat International reports that the first three months of 2021 showed “a record number of vessels changing hands following a strong end to 2020”.

In total, yacht sales are up by 46 percent on the first quarter of 2020, with 133 sales between January and March of this year. 

Brokerage experts consulted by Boat International point to a number of factors helping yacht ownership float to the top of the super rich’s priorities list: “Increase in new superyacht buyers; Interest in larger vessels on the up; Growth driven by travel frustrations; Boom likely to continue into H2 2021 and possibly beyond; Concerns over Q3 and Q4 stock availability.”

Jeff Bezos's rumoured $500 million superyacht, the Flying Fox

“People have become even more committed to invest in yachting as it offers an escape from the pandemic,” said Paolo Casani, chief executive at luxury yacht purveyors Camper & Nicholsons. “The economy has also always been strong – apart from the first few months of the pandemic, 2020 was a fantastic year for the Stock Exchange. There was, and is, money available.”

Bob Denison, president of Denison Yachting, believes that restrictions on the traditional spending habits of the super rich have led to this uptick on nautical purchases. 

“The first quarter of 2021 has been strong due to continued demand from 2020,” he told Boat Insider. “Yachting’s competitive industries, such as skiing and higher-end vacation experiences like cruises, are still being affected by extended lockdowns which have created a special opportunity for our industry.”

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