It’s a Hard Life Being a Super Yacht Broker

Douglas McFarlane, Lomond Yachts

It was only 2 years ago that I spent my days commuting into London. Getting up shortly after dawn, walking to the local train station in a zombie like fashion and arriving at the station platform like thousands of others waiting on the train. You notice that no-one is talking and everyone else seems to be in the same zombie like state. No smiles, just staring at the information display and looking down the track to see if the train is on it’s way, even though it’s more than 5 minutes before it arrives. Then the jostling for position comes. Have you timed it carefully enough for the doors to open just where you stand ? Will you get on first and grab one of those few precious seats, or will you be standing in the corridor, being asked to push up, and getting squashed each time the train arrives at a new station and takes on another hundred passengers ?  Either way you can be assured of more zombie-like people all the way into London, and it continues on the tube to your final destination. The way home is much the same and then you do it in the morning again, 5 days a week. Irrespective of whether you love your job and cope well with pressures of day, it’s a hard life commuting into any city centre.

A few years ago I decided that this way of life had to change.  I could no longer face the daily commute and sought to setup a business to escape from it.  Not just any business would do. If I offered services to other companies, then I’d simply be visiting their offices in the city centre in a similar fashion. I had to find something that had a different scenery. A different timing that I owned.  I also preferred to work carefully with a smaller number of customers on high value items and provide an amazing service, as opposed to a small value item to a high volume of customers. The perfect idea came into my head.  Why not follow what I loved to spend my time on in the summer days around Loch Lomond, motor yachts, and perhaps follow in the footsteps of my father, a shipbuilder. Selling, chartering and building Super Yachts seemed to be an ideal choice to meet all my criteria and Lomond Yachts was formed within days.

So what does my day look like now ?  Well, it now consists of travelling to beautiful locations around the world, where the sun is shining to meet and greet customers on some of the finest sea-going vessels available. Take Antibes Yacht Show for example.  I’d been to the South of France many times, mostly to Cannes, Nice and Monaco but I hadn’t been to Antibes.  At the last minute, I decided to book up and see what it was like. I wasn’t to be disappointed.  Antibes is only a short drive from Nice airport and not far from Cannes, but it’s a very different experience.  It’s home to the Picasso Museum.  Picasso apparently spent a short period here and created some of his best work which is now housed in an amazing Roman built fortress overlooking the marina where the yacht show was being held.

Antibes Yacht Show wasn’t like its much larger counterparts around the coast, but this allowed more time to view and talk with brokers, crew and owners on more Super Yachts. Everyone seemed much more chilled as a result and diaries weren’t as full meaning that you weren’t losing people’s attention because they had somewhere else to be or had just seen someone they urgently needed to speak with. I was able to add more selection to our portfolio as a result, and we now have Anedigmi, Sweet Doll and Project 12 to tell our customers about. Anedigmi is a 49.7 m Italian design and available for 11m Euro. Its interior is one of the most luxurious and classy I’ve seen for its age.  It’s clearly as a result of it being upgraded in 2013 which has kept it very fresh and modern while retaining some of its ‘old boy’ character. It has Jacuzzi, bar, barbecue and gym, and the owner has recently upgraded to a larger vessel making it available for a new owner to view at its base in Italy.

Heesen is one of my favourite yacht designers and I spent a bit of time on the Galactica Star last year having a good look at their quality. So it was very pleasant surprise to see Sweet Doll on the market, an 11 year old Heesen. I was amazed to see that the design quality was just as good all those years ago and for a fraction of the price of the Galactica Star, here was a Super Yacht with similar style, grace and quality. Knowing that it would get snapped up quickly, I couldn’t wait to tell my clients more. Overnight I got someone interested and that may lead to a sale in the near future.

Following the success of Antibes, I decided to pop down to a more local yacht show. This time in Jersey in the Channel Islands. I’d been to Jersey a decade ago and it hadn’t changed much apart from the marina where a number of new developments had sprung up and overlooked the marina.  The 7th annual Jersey Boat Show was really well attended by the public who were all quite content to wait in long queues to get onboard the 80 foot Sunseeker. The estimated attendance was around 40,000, which is about half of the islands population. Bavaria, Fairline and Broom all had some boats to show, though it tended to be at the lower end of the market from those we deal in. I’d mark it down as somewhere to visit for my own selection when I want to get back on the ocean waves. My clients however operate at the luxury end of the market so I spent the rest of the week finding out more about Jersey itself.  We stayed at St Brelade’s Bay and it’s a place I’d highly recommend. It has one of the finest beaches I’ve seen. Perfectly aligned to the southern sun and when the tide goes out you have acres of golden sand to have a long walk, fun with the family, playing fetch with the dog or just bask in the sunshine.

As if that wasn’t exciting enough for the month, my next stop was to attend the prestigious International Yacht & Aviation Awards. Many of the Super Yachts we know well were shortlisted so it felt like a great time to meet the designers and applaud their talent. On arrival, with a glass of champagne in hand, we chatted with some of the nominees from Belgium, France and Turkey who had all travelled over for the event and were looking for favourable results. We were also fortunate enough to sit at the table of several nominees. Tony Castro, a world class designer with a lifetime of experience in yacht design. Nigel Goode, from Priestman Goode who we were all rooting for as their entry, World View, a project to take passengers on balloon flights to the edge of the Earth, was truly out of this world. I sat next to Emily Lane and Dominic Lancaster, from Y.Co, who were representing the owners of Ocean Paradise. We were all delighted when they won the over 50 metre award and shared in their excitement with more champagne. One designer when given an award said, “the difference between concept and reality is the audacity of the customer”. Very true and wise words indeed.

It was a fantastic night and we plan to be there again next year. Perhaps we may even be fortunate enough to be nominated for an award on behalf of one our clients. We shall see. So, a riveting end to the start of a new and exciting world and one that I feel will continue for decades.  Lomond Yachts is here to stay and we’re ready for more of the hard work to make it a success in this exciting business.

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