Here's why more Singaporeans are into yachtingBY ALAN PICKERING
Yachting is still a formative industry in Singapore, but is gradually gaining traction, especially among the younger generation here. Compared to New Zealand, where there are almost 500,000 boats, Singapore has only a few thousand yachts for a comparable sized population.
As a result, the revenue currently generated by the local boating industry is negligible, whereas in a European country such as Italy, yachting brings in billions of dollars in direct income to the government in the form of taxes and tourism receipts.
However there is still much potential for Singapore to become a strategic hub for the growth of this industry in the Asian region.
Yachting in Singapore has only really started getting off the ground in the last 20 years. But because of its strategic location, as emphasised by the development of the port infrastructure, its presence and reach throughout the region will continue to grow.
Our customer demographics have been changing steadily over the years. For example, we used to cater mostly to expatriates, but now our client base is made up of about equal numbers of expatriates and Singaporeans.
I attribute the greater interest in yachting amongst Singaporeans to greater disposable income and an increased desire for a marine- based lifestyle. People have more time and more money to look for lifestyle alternatives.
Another trend that I have noticed in recent years is that younger people are getting more involved in yachting. Part of the reason for this may be that with technological advances such as portable GPS, and the increased affordability of marine digital charts, taking a boat to sea has never been easier.
I’d also cite Singapore’s good yacht racing infrastructure and sailing programmes instituted in universities such as SMU as additional reasons for this trend; such institutions recognise the benefits young people get from sailing: it fosters independence and cultivates their initiative.
Some Singaporean businessmen are also looking to yachting as a way to develop their business. We have seen one of two charters every month in the past 10 years by businessmen looking to entertain clients and business associates or to hold presentations on board their yachts.
Some businesses also conduct training programs in sailing boats to build team spirit and cooperation among their employees. A luxury yacht is also a great venue for entertaining, be it friends, family or business associates, a yacht gives you endless entertainment possibilities.
Firstly, in Singapore it’s still a great rarity to be entertained on a boat, so you have the novelty factor. Then there’s the joy of being in the fresh air, anchored in a lovely bay with a cool drink.
Most luxury yachts also come equipped with their own BBQ, often situated on the ‘fly bridge’, which is convenient for al fresco cooking and dining. For larger gatherings you can set up a portable BBQ on the swimming platform (to the stern of the yacht) or else make use of the boat’s own fully-equipped galley.
Getting into the pastime is relatively easy. The key decision for every prospective boat buyer is “power or sail”. The whole point about boating is that it’s ‘horses for courses’, in other words every person who’s into boating and yachting has his own likes and preferences.
Some people love the luxury of a motor yacht, with its full air conditioning, fancy sound system, plasma TV and well-appointed interior, plus of course the ability to get where you want to go in a hurry. Others meanwhile prefer the outdoors ‘natural enjoyment’ type of experience, or enjoy sailing more, and so they would opt for a sailing boat which brings them closer to nature and the elements. Then it becomes more about the journey, rather than the destination.
In terms of size, the beginner can get into boating (either power or sail) with a boat as compact as 25ft to 30ft, or indeed with a small power boat or open motor launch, although the disadvantage of the latter lies in the fact that it does not have an enclosed cockpit to ward off rain showers.
If you take a compact cabin cruiser for instance, you get a very fast, manoeuvrable craft with twin outboard which has a fully enclosed cabin accommodating four people comfortably. Such a yacht can sell for as little as 40,000 Euros plus the optional extras.
This kind of boat is perfect for family outings, fishing trips and popping over to the Southern Islands of Singapore for the day and we’d highly recommend such a product for a beginner.
For those with deeper pockets a 72ft Princess motor yacht with luxurious accommodation for six persons plus crew and a beautifully appointed Scandinavian style designer interior could go for over S$4 million. Such a yacht can easily make trips to places like Pulau Tioman in Malaysia or Phuket or Koh Samui in Thailand whilst giving you all the comforts of an expensive condominium.
The development of marinas is of vital importance to the growth of the industry. Most of the marinas in Singapore are reaching full capacity and some are already full with waiting lists.
So there is definitely scope for at least another two marinas can be established in the next few years, so as to meet the increase in demand for wet berths.