Maggie Vale, a charter broker with Rikki Davis Worldwide Yacht Charters at Churchill Yacht Partners, attended last week’s industry-only charter yacht show in Newport, Rhode Island, where her office is based. Here is my interview with Vale about the boats at the show, the state of the industry in general, and the future of the summer season in New England.
Traditionally, the Newport charter show is smaller than annual shows in Europe and the Caribbean. Was that the case again this year?
Yes. It’s not a huge show, but the quality of brokers and boats is excellent. There were several different styles and sizes of boats, about equally divided among sail and power. So that is a good variety, and they were all very nice boats. The crew were in top form aboard every boat that I saw, eager to impress. I saw a lot of serious charter brokers, too, mostly from the United States, which is normal for this boat show.
How was the mood compared with last year, when the global recession had many charter brokers on the Newport docks predicting a lackluster summer season?
Everybody’s spirits were high. People seem optimistic about the charter market starting to come back. People are actually booking again. It’s not like a few years ago, when it was as easy as picking up apples from the ground after they fell from a tree, but there are definitely more ripe apples to pick this year if you climb the tree a little bit.
I understand that the informative seminars for brokers were quite good this year.
Every seminar was outstanding. I think it may have been the best year for that yet. One seminar of timely importance was by Costa Lourandakis of Ocean Independence, who explained that as of July 1, the VAT for charters in Greece will be increasing to 5.5 percent. It’s for any charters that end after July 1, no matter when the charter was originally booked. And there is no talk of raising the VAT any more after that.
Did any of the charter yachts on display stand out to you?
I liked the 123-foot Palmer Johnson sailing yacht Galileo. She was beautifully laid out with a very pretty interior and an excellent crew. That boat was a little bit of a surprise to me because I’m from New England, and as a serious sailor myself, I’m not always excited about motorsailers. But Galileo was a pleasant surprise.
I also liked the 100-foot Swan sailing yacht Virago. She’s gorgeous. Another sailing yacht that looked great was the 116-foot Holland Jachtbouw Whisper, which is part of our fleet at Churchill Yachts. She’s just gorgeous.
Beyond the sailboats, I liked the 74-foot Marlow motoryacht Casamar. The interior was beautiful. Marlows are very stable boats, and she was pretty on top of having that quality of stability. For her size, she was very roomy with features that you would find on bigger yachts. She offered a lot for 74 feet.
Another motoryacht that caught my eye was the 100-foot Hatteras motoryacht Triple Attraction. She is beautiful for a power yacht. Very much worth seeing.
You are based in Newport, which makes you a member of the “home team” for this boat show. What is your sense of how the New England charter market will fare the rest of this summer?
I’ve booked a number of charters for this summer in New England, so clients are definitely booking, but we are seeing a lot of shorter charters compared with years past. Instead of a weeklong charter, people might want a three- or four-day charter, maybe visiting Newport, Block Island, and Nantucket, which is a great trip in that amount of time. So that seems to be a little bit of a trend.
We tend to do a lot of sailing charters up here, and those are still booking, so that’s great. We’re not back to where we were before the recession, but I can definitely see things starting to come back.
To learn more, contact Maggie Vale via the website of Rikki Davis Worldwide Yacht Charters at Churchill Yacht Partners.