Hubert Burda Media

A New Wave

Singapore's burgeoning yacht scene gets a boost with the exclusive dealership between Monte Carlo Yachts and dealer Simpson Marine. FABRIZIO IARRERA and MIKE SIMPSON dish out the details

A New Wave

The distinguished Franco-Italian brand, Monte Carlo Yachts (MCY) has finally berthed here. Since its relaunch by yachting powerhouse Beneteau Group in 2008, the firm has long set its sights on expanding in the East, particularly the Southeast Asian market. Now joining forces with Simpson Marine — one of Asia's best known yacht brokerages with regional presence in Singapore, Thailand, China and Indonesia — it looks set to realise its goal. Fabrizio Iarrera, managing director of MCY, and Mike Simpson, founder and group managing director of Simpson Marine, espouse on the partnership.
How has the response been so far towards MCY in Singapore?
Fabrizio Iarrera (FI): The exclusive dealership with Simpson Marine broadens our reach into the Southeast Asian market and the responses from Singapore have been great so far. More and more yacht enthusiasts are moving away from traditional yacht designs to more modern ones for their yachts of choice. For example, MCY's Nuvolari-Lenard designed yachts blends the old with the new which is a perfect fit for the current generation's new breed of yacht enthusiasts.
Mike Simpson (MS): Securing the dealership for MCY — one of the very best shipyards in the world — has brought us closer to our plan to continue promoting the boating culture and lifestyle to grow the local yachting scene and establish us as a leader in the industry.
MCY has a 130-year-old Franco-Italian heritage given its links with the Beneteau Group. How does it preserve its legacy but at the same time, remain relevant to the modern-day consumer?
FI: The technological capability and efficiency that derives from a group with 130 years of history are part of our DNA. We are able to offer experience and industrial know-how to all our customers together with the visionary design of a group who has lived through more than six generations. The key to preserve this heritage and remain relevant in this day and age lies in the innovation capacity our Group has today, which is supported by financial strength and solidity.
Where does Singapore currently stand in the Asian yachting scene?
MS: It is still in its infancy stage [but] has potential for growth due to the ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) individuals who are settling down around the region with Singapore as its epicentre. We saw a significant increase in the number of sales (we sold 30 boats and yachts last year) and enquiries in recent years for both yacht and charter — indicative that there is definitely an escalating interest in the recreational yachting lifestyle here.
FI: Indeed, Singapore's yachting scene is still in its development stage but with much potential ahead. There is a rising interest in luxury yachting, which corresponds to the rising wealth in the region, a greater emphasis on leisure and the desire to own the ultimate luxury leisure accessory. Customers know what they want in their yachts and appreciate luxury yachts like never before. Coupled with Singapore's strategic location right at the centre of Southeast Asia, security and convenience, there is definitely potential for Singapore as the luxury yachting hub in the region.
How can this potential be developed?
MS: Singapore is currently facing a shortage of berths and that has stopped a lot of potential buyers from buying yachts. There is a critical need to increase the number of berths and build more marinas here.
FI: On the bright side, we are seeing more marinas being developed or upgraded in neighbouring countries such as in Malaysia and Thailand. This will also drive more yacht enthusiasts to Singapore.
We've been talking a lot about Asia. What about US and Europe, the traditional yachting hotspots?
MS: Even though Asia is not as established as Europe and the US, in terms of the boating scene, the trend is changing. European and American yacht owners are beginning to see this region as an alternative to their usual winter cruising grounds in Europe and the Caribbean. The West [may] be a more mature market compared to the East, but its growth rate is lower than before.
FI: Over the past few months, MCY and Beneteau have seen the global yacht industry evolve. While we have dedicated teams for marketing and other services for yacht owners in China, we can also count on a consolidated presence in non-European countries such as Brazil, Russia, Turkey and Australia.
Asian boaters have traditionally bought power yachts but we are now seeing more purchases of sailing yachts. What other trends do you see in the market?
MS: There are more existing boat owners who are upgrading to bigger boats — where they have more space to enjoy themselves together with their families and friends — as they come to appreciate what the yachting lifestyle is all about. Buyers today are also more open to buying superyachts. Traditionally, first-time owners usually start with smaller yachts but due to the increasing wealth in Asia, more people are starting to purchase larger boats at the outset, such as in China and Indonesia. Finally, there are more yacht owners from Singapore and Thailand who buy yachts to charter out.
What are your best memories of yachting?
FI: I brought my family on a charter experience at the beautiful Seychelles. We spent 10 days onboard a nice 60-ft yacht, did excellent snorkelling on the ocean-side reefs and enjoyed the sparkling, sunny days out at sea.
MS: My first yacht was the Hoopoe 46 (a 46-ft Taiwanese-built yacht). I used to go out on it often when I was younger.