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Behind the Scenes at The Monaco Yacht Show with Lomond Yachts

Posted by Douglas McFarlane on September 4, 2014
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Part 2 in our adventure to the Monaco Yacht Show last year.

On the second day, I had a variety of Super Yachts to see and it was back to back meetings.  My first appointment was onboard Karia. A Rolls Royce convertible was parked front of it. The Captain, who clearly knew his stuff, showed me around.  I wanted to know everything about Karia. How many crew, how fast was it, why is it for sale and how much does it cost to run.

My next stop was supposed to be Galactica Star, but in the confusion of setting up my busy itinerary I had missed it from my diary. I had to visit the Heesen stand and apologise, but they were kind enough to see me again on Saturday when it was quieter.

It wasn’t the same level of courtesy offered by the brokers of Chopi Chopi. We arrived on time but the owner was onboard. I said no problem and suggested 4pm. When I went along at 4pm, we had rushed along because one of my contacts was late in arriving which had knocked on the time resulting in us rushing to see Chopi Chopi and being about 5 minutes late. When we got there, they said I was too late and they couldn’t let me on.

Never mind, I had more time to meet the CEO of Pearl Yachts, Ian Smallridge. Who arrived on time at the Champagne bar, which had become my favourite meeting point. His polo shirt was a Hugo Boss with a Pearl logo. Vistaprint made mine. I made a mental note to ensure I got a higher quality of shirt next time. Ian was down to earth and very helpful. He’d setup his boat building business around 10 years ago and here he was, not looking a day over 40, and saying how challenging it has been.

After Ian left, I asked the concierge if we could use an office as I had a Chinese business client. She had a look around and one was empty so we were in luck. The meeting went very well. It’s true what they say about people buying from people. We discussed everything from setting up in China to the culture and the expected client requirements.  I even got my name spelled in Chinese. Four characters made up my first name Douglas.

 As if that wasn’t enough for one day, I met with my German business development partner, who wanted a contract signed. After I had a quick look through it, she shared with me some of the exclusive information she had about her clients.

Back to the yachts, and the one that got my attention was Stella Maris. The broker took a deep breath at the entrance and got into a calm zone. This is the atrium and he pointed to what can only be described as a beautiful two story high tree. This is a truly beautiful Italian yacht with walls of glass filling the rooms with fantastic light and amazing views. It has gyms, hydrotherapy rooms a sundeck and a helipad. A qualified surveyor was talking openly to the lead salesman, who seemed to have a key part in the design.  He said the Italian’s weren’t as good as the Dutch and German, much to this Italian brokers disgust.

Friday morning was a trio which were berthed next to each other, which made it easier to meet the tight schedule I had set myself. Illeria, Morning Star, Anedigmi. Each of them were impressive, with lovely interiors, great relaxing spaces and living areas to while away the days at sea.

Friday night was the most special of the week. It was time to get on onboard the Quattroelle. My wife and I had checked earlier in the day at the Lurssen stand to find out if we could get an additional ticket for our new Chinese business partner. Unfortunately not, was the answer, but we were given additional tickets to a cocktail party at their stand, which was nice of them.  We checked the dress code and it was “smart, formal cocktail dress”.  Fortunately, we were prepared and had a relaxing few hours getting organized and polished up before getting back to the marina on time.  Before we went, we decided to go to the exclusive Royal Monaco Yacht Club, which had a reputation of exclusivity and expensive to be part of. The bar area was very open and comfortable, with a large globe, a model yacht and wood. The restaurant areas looked onto the Monaco marina and in the background we could see the Quattroelle.

Walking towards the Quattroelle, you start to get a feeling of it’s size. It towers above you and you start to feel tiny. At 88 metres long, it commands it’s space in the marina.  We checked our shoes in at the bottom and walked in socks onboard. The decking was immaculate and as we were one of the first to arrive, we immediately went to the bow, to see the amazing shark-design Eurocopter. I was able to take some fantastic pictures at the tail of the helicopter, and the designer herself. The Captain, noticed I was attempting to take some self-timer photos, and came over and kindly took a few. He was from Shropshire, and we chatted about his fascinating life as a Captain working with the owner of the vessel for many years, including being the main man on his previous yachts.

Later on, there was a fashion show, with some very fashionable young women in Black Swan inspired feather dresses. The canapés were handed out regularly, and an endless supply of champagne flowed. The scene around the swimming pool was very relaxed. The hired band arrived upstairs and started to create a cool vibe singing Beatles songs and as darkness fell, the mood was very relaxed with many guests lying out on the sundeck taking in the music.

The highlight for me was when the band came directly up to my wife and myself and started singing “Sealed with a kiss” in front of the entire guests. I obliged of course, to keep in with the romantic mood of the evening.  Peter Lurssen, the owner of the Lurssen, was onboard and was next to the Porsche Spyder 918 that was onboard for it’s world launch.   I took my chance and introduced myself and told him about Lomond Yachts. An inspirational man, and an inspirational company, no wonder they are the world leader in Super Yachts.

The next day was our second attempt at getting onboard Dutch builder Heesen’s Galactica Star. I had heard this had Beyoncé and Jay-Z on it earlier in the year for her birthday, so my first question to the designer showing us around was, is it for sale? Apparently not.  Not even for charter. The owner isn’t currently known, so it was a bit like an episode of “through the keyhole” wondering who actually lived there. There were signs, such as the large Mohammed Ali artwork, Chairman Mao, and scrumpled up American Dollar. There was also a large Naomi Campbell image. My guess was Mike Tyson but research on the Internet suggested it was Kola Aluko, a Nigerian businessman.  When I heard the price, close to €80m, it was clear that no ordinary wealthy person owned it.

The attention to detail was evident. The woodwork was unique all throughout.  A cool bar was in the basement, and a lounge area that lead on to a balcony. Looking up, I noticed the glass-bottom of a plunge pool above us.

We had planned to see others on Saturday but we ended up speaking with Italian builders, ABYachts and saw some great designs and they were faster with lower cost.  After further discussions, it was clear we had a final partner to add to the portfolio.

Sunday was leaving day. As the hotel was next to the Helipad, and not too expensive, we decided to go back to the airport in style.  Our bags were checked in at the Helipad and as they were full of brochures, it was ideal, because they never got checked for weight in the stringent way they would’ve at the airport.

As we took off, my camera was out again and I started taking pictures. The Maltese Falcon was in the distance in front of the marina, and most the yachts were now dispersed.  A large one below me looked interesting and I started taking pictures of it. It had a helipad at the front. It was about 90 metres or so I thought.  It wasn’t until I got home and looked at the images, that I realized it was the Quattroelle. I hadn’t recognised it without the helicopter on it’s landing pad.

A fantastic journey and highly recommended.  I plan to take as many clients as I can next year, so that I can share some of the excitement with serious buyers and hopefully close some deals next time.

The life of a Super Yacht broker is certainly one that I look forward to continuing. The experience truly took my breath away.

Douglas McFarlane

Douglas McFarlane

Douglas McFarlane is our London based CEO whose passion for the business came from his father, who worked on the Queen Elizabeth II, launched in 1967 and built by John Brown's shipyard in Clydebank.

After spending most of his youth visiting launches and building models of those he saw, Douglas trained with the Royal Yacht Association before helming a 45-foot yacht around the West Coast of Scotland with Royal Bank of Scotland Sailng Club.

Before moving down to London he spent most of his time on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond in his 26' Bayliner moored at the exclusive Cameron House Marina. This gave Douglas his passion for Super Yachts.

Lomond Yachts works with clients and partners around the globe, in order to provide a concierge service from initial research of buying a Super Yacht, through to launch and ongoing vessel management. This includes chartering, bespoke design and build project management as required.
Douglas McFarlane

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