Superyachting IndexCamper and Nicholsons International has just released the third edition of its Superyachting Index, the world's most comprehensive compilation of data about the new construction, brokerage sales, and yacht charter industries for boats larger than 80 feet. The 48-page report provides market analysis of the calendar year 2009, which was the first full year following the global economic downturn.

As expected, the new report shows that the charter industry took a hit. In blunt numbers, the hit was to all segments of the market at levels that vary from about 25 percent to nearly 50 percent.

In the charter market, the industry segment that suffered the biggest blow was corporate charter, according to the Index. Corporate charter bookings were off by nearly 50 percent, "hardly a surprise," as Camper rightly notes, given all the corporate cutbacks and budget slashing that followed the economic downturn.

Among charter yachts in all size ranges, Camper estimates that weekly base rates dropped about 20 percent on average. The core of the charter market, which is yachts 100 to 165 feet long, dropped to 2007 levels. The total number of charter weeks booked in 2009 was about 2,680, which is actually lower than 2007 levels despite the same number of charter yachts being available for charter.

In terms of overall value generated, 80- to 100-foot charter yachts were at $28 million in 2009, a decline of 35 percent from 2008. The 100- to 165-foot segment saw a decline of 40 percent from 2008, and yachts larger than 165 feet saw a drop of 24 percent. In total, the overall value of the charter industry fell to $72 million in 2009 compared with $100 million in 2008, a decrease of nearly 30 percent.

The charter bookings that did occur were, in general, shorter than in years past. The average charter lasted 8.3 days in 2009, down from 8.8 days in 2008. This translates into an average of 3.15 weeks per charter aboard each yacht, compared with an average of 4 weeks of charter per yacht in 2008.

That last figure is significant, as it helps to explain why Camper is reporting a 15 percent decrease in the overall size of the world's charter fleet for 2009. A good number of yacht owners, seeing decreasing rates as well as a decrease in the number of bookings, chose to forgo charter altogether until market conditions improve.

The segment of the market that shrank the most in terms of yachts available is the 80- to 100-foot range, according to the Index. Now at about 230 yachts, that segment has been reduced in size by nearly one-third from 2008.

Camper's new Index also discusses charter destinations. The Mediterranean continues to be, by far, the world's most popular location for charter bookings, with some 75 percent market share. The Western Med continues to dominate the Eastern Med in popularity, although the duration of charters in the West Med decreased for 2009 while the duration of East Med charters remained static.

The Caribbean is still the second most popular charter locale, with about 14 percent of all charter bookings. Even so, Caribbean bookings were down to about 375 weeks in 2009 versus 435 weeks in 2008, a drop of about 15 percent in overall business.

Worst hit has been the Florida and Bahamas region, which the Index states saw about 80 weeks of charter bookings in 2009. That is down from 160 weeks in 2008 and 195 weeks in 2007. It's a business loss of 60 percent in just two years.