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Market Report 2017 – Flight Deck Reports – Berthon UK

August 18, 2017

Berthon publishes an annual Market Report which reviews the yachting market over the previous year, and examines what we think will be the important trends and changes in the year ahead. A digital copy is available HERE and you can also request a hard copy at

Over the course of the next few month’s we’ll be broadcasting other articles from the Market Report via the Berthon blog and social media. If the articles and ideas are interesting and you would like to know more, or have questions, please do get in touch…

Sailing Yacht Review – by


Overall it has been an excellent 12 months, with our Lymington office putting in another record year for sales with over 90 sailing yachts passing through our hands. Add to that our motor sales, new yacht sales and our France and USA office sales and the number leaps to over 200.

There is, and always will be, a desire for sailors to explore the world’s oceans. Of course the number will vary from year to year depending on external factors – usually of a financial nature – although I take the view that if you have made your plans for a sailing adventure, most people will press on regardless. After all, one factor none of us can exercise any control over is time, and we must never forget that sailing is a lifestyle choice – and a choice of freedom at that.

The ARC annually reaches its maximum entry. This is both a tribute to a well-run and popular rally, but is also proof of the continued desire to escape the European winter in favour of warmer climes and experience the autonomy and adventure that only a blue water sailing yacht can provide. As we’re fond of saying here at Berthon, yachts are your magic carpet!

Continuing on the blue water theme Berthon, in partnership with the World Cruising Club, host the blue water cruising weekend each year. The increased popularity year on year of this event speaks volumes about our clients’ sailing ambitions, and the weekend is the go-to event for those planning on taking part. For those who attend, there are seminars, talks and practical demonstrations, as well as a host of industry professionals on hand to assist with your yachting plans. This year’s event is being held on the 20th-21st May. For more information and to book your place, visit

Undoubtedly, the single biggest event in 2016 was the UK voting to leave the EU. Prior to this momentous decision, the market was in a state of semi-hold post.

Brexit and the subsequent weakening of the £sterling that followed changed that somewhat. The domestic market, upon realising the world wasn’t going to end, perked up and our shores became the focus of attention from many overseas visitors. Sterling-priced yachts became highly popular, and continue to be so.

Berthon International enjoy good standing both nationally and internationally with clients and cooperating brokers. Buyers in times of uncertainly take comfort in the fact they are dealing with a long established brokerage house, with a solid team of experienced brokers, with a rock hard asset base with no debt. Buying or selling, locally or abroad, you rely on the broker to guide you through the myriad of potential issues with title, tax status, RCD and dealing with registries throughout the world. Not to mention local knowledge and the ability to assist with the logistics.

Our focus, as always, remains firmly on the blue water market and the marques that are built with this type of cruising in mind: Oyster, Discovery, Swan, Hallberg- Rassy, Najad and yachts of that ilk. Average size over the last year has crept well above 50 feet but we continue to cover a broad section of the market from approximately 40 to 90 feet. Everyone’s requirements differ but, if a yacht meets your practical requirements, ticks your widget wish list and makes you smile when you see her at anchor, then she fits the bill. Whether she’s a fully equipped Hallberg Rassy 39′ or an Oyster 72′, the common denominator is the fact that she is a blue water yacht capable of delivering the sort of adventure you have planned. We aim to work hard for both our vendors and purchasers, marketing efficiently and effectively, utilising both traditional marketing and the ever increasing medium of social media. For our purchasing clients, it is a matter of understanding and defining your brief, and using our experience to help you navigate the sometimes daunting prospect of finding your magic carpet.

We remain strong in the more traditional cruising sector, but with an eye constantly on the market we feel there is definitely an increasing interest in the performance cruising sector, as evidenced by the crossover we see from racing clients making the move to cruising. Having a foot in both sectors and listing yachts that bridge that gap puts us in the best possible position to assist clients of this nature, with a desire to cruise but still wanting a yacht that can put in a thrilling performance and hold her own in the occasional regatta. Good examples of this are reflected in our listings, with inhouse yacht marques such as Advanced and Solaris as well as Shipman and a plethora of unique slippery offerings.

Here at Berthon we know that people buy from people, and our experienced team (perhaps more of a family) have been doing what we do for some time… but even we see the need for new blood occasionally. In March last year, the cruising yacht team welcomed Junior Broker, Sophie Higgs aboard the Berthon bus. Here she talks about her first year with us…

I joined Berthon in March 2016 after spending 4 months sailing in the Caribbean on a Hylas 54′. The cold British weather was a bit of a shock to the system on my return! As soon as I started, I was thrown straight in at the deep end and I had to learn as I went. I worked closely with Alan and the other brokers and from Day 1 had my own clients and yachts to deal with under Alan’s watchful eye. I attended the YBDSA Brokers’ Course after a few months at Berthon and was told by Sue that she expected me to be top of the class!

I enjoy talking to people, helping them to find their perfect yacht and in turn to pursue their sailing ambitions. For me, the relationship built with clients during this process and the outcome of helping make their dream a reality is one of the most enjoyable parts of the job.

When I started, Brexit was the talk of the town and it seemed to affect the 40ft market the most with an overall reluctance to spend money; however, we had a steady flow of Europeans and Americans over the summer which meant we stayed busy until things started to slow in the build up to the American Presidential election. Postelection the phones continued to ring proving that a lifestyle choice is rarely put off for long, although the result did “trump” one of my sales – the Australians and Canadians seemed more concerned by the result than the Americans!

I have thoroughly loved my first year at Berthon and have learnt an enormous amount. I am steadily building on my knowledge and in turn gaining a deeper understanding of not only yachts, but the market as well. I have enjoyed forging great relationships with clients and look forward to continuing to build on these in 2017.

Motor Yacht Review – by


Wow – 2016 was one busy year for myself and Cameron McKeon (yes – he is related!) on the motor side of all things brokerage at Berthon. We saw seismic events in the world around us, and this naturally caused uncertainty and some trepidation; however, on the morning of the 24th June, after the (Brexit) night before, we helped put together a deal where both Buyer and Seller thought it was as good a time as any to buy and sell yachts, and this has echoed through the rest of the season. Motor yachts are a much more impulsive, aspirational, irrational, very personal, and thus fun purchase – so I don’t think there is ever a particularly good or bad time to sell a yacht and it, for us, has been a constantly busy year in terms of brokerage completions. The personal connection is what is key in our business, and we have seen time and time again that the initial impression is vital, and we are fortunate with topnotch facilities (gantries galore) and a preparation for sale and valet team here to make it all happen. Having had the chance in the summer to cruise the stunning Channel Islands in an exceptionally good patch of weather, I was amazed to pitch up late in Alderney and wake up flanked by 4 yachts, either currently on the market with us or very recently sold by us. One of those owners is sea-trialling a new yacht with us as I write, so we may meet up in the Scillies for the next chapter.

So what has been selling?
Quick yachts have really got going. Over 20 wonderful Windys of all sizes have had cheques written, from the awesome grand statesman – the 52’ Xanthos – through to the newer batch of razor-sharp blades in the sub 10-metre band. These Zondas and Cohos are exceptional yachts to drive: champing at the bit for open water and a cool hand on the throttle. Residual values are firm, with a superb brand reputation, limited brokerage availability and extending new boat delivery times all concentrating market attention. We have almost exclusively operated in £Sterling, and the currency shift has helped, with 20% of our Windy purchasers originating from outside the UK. The Berthon brand is well-recognised on the Continent and the service trusted, with clients visiting perhaps only once during a purchase prior to taking delivery of their new toy at her new home berth, wherever that may be in continental Europe/Scandinavia. Serendipitously, two Windys were transported from Lymington to Frankfurt within 10 days of each other, and have ended up in neighbouring marinas on the Rhine; both clients were an absolute pleasure to deal with – and a lot of time spent on the phone! Both were also much younger than the norm over the past seasons, and so we do seem to be seeing a resurgence of interest from the younger guns out there.

Away from the Scandinavian flying boats, sterling’s shift has also counted in the rest of our market, with beautiful motor yachts from Sabre (stunning Maine-built Down Easters with a penchant for proper passage-making) and Cara Marine (big, gutsy, jet-drive patrol-boat derivatives), heading off under their own power to coastal Europe, helped along by the weak £Sterling. US$ purchasers enquiring on US-centric models such as the super versatile Nordic Tug and reliable, sea-sure Fleming trawler ranges came through in the mid-season as Sterling rates slid further against the US$ after Brexit. Timings of currency change have certainly led to pinch-points in terms of listings too – with 3 Windy 37s disappearing from our lists in as many weeks on the basis of £Sterling/€uro rate change. The shortage of recently built, quality-build motor yachts is biting hard, and this will continue in the future as a direct result of reduced production during what has proved to be nearly a decade of recession. The downing of tools in the late 2000’s has slimmed our sector drastically, and as yards gear up production for new demand, long lead times are inevitable – so it is simply a case of thinking more creatively. The larger, high volume, diesel hungry market is difficult, and pricing has to align with the expectation of significant running expense, and we have noted a relatively high proportion of Vendors down-sizing following a successful sale.

We don’t like to blow our own trumpet, but we do seem to gather some of the best-looking motor yachts around, and pretty sea-boats have definitely been in vogue – with dashing blue hulls from Aquastar, Dale Nelson, Swordsman and Oyster all leading the charge. Quality is still key, with the more experienced owner taking a real pride in presenting his yacht for sale correctly, and the next keeper for such craft improving and personalizing on very solid foundations. In terms of functional beauty, the Dashew Offshore range of world-girdling FPB’s (that’s Functional Power Boats) inhabits a world of her own. Drawing from a lifetime of experience in fast, ocean passagemaking under sail, this lean, dart-like aluminium family of deep-sea voyagers is a feat of exceptional engineering, a rigorous application of a concept, allowing mammoth range through adverse conditions with an elegant, functional finish. Whilst these craft are redundant for the Solent hop, we can see a growing band of devotees for whom these self-sufficient explorer yachts are the only way to go – watch this space!

Whatever the fallout the Brexit decision and the Presidency change bring to us this year, we will still want, and more importantly need, to go yachting. Even with the future uncertain, early indicators are that 2017 can perform strongly, but that price, location, and presentation will still be the key to successfully marketing and selling your yacht.

Performance Yacht Review – by


…but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order… what have the Romans done for us?

One of the most famous quotes from Monty Python rattles around the corridors of every school institution and office the world over.

An acerbic phrase from John Cleese commenting on the empire of Julius Caesar scything across continental Europe bringing about change to the masses whether they like it or not (in the unlikely case that you have not heard it before).

But what on earth has that got to do with yacht brokerage? A very valid question, and although quite conceivable that I spend considerable amounts of time repeating Monty Python in my head, it is a quote that is really representative of the market for performance cruising, over the past few years.

…but apart from sleek lines, light and airy interiors, deck saloons that look like flush decks, interior fitments normally seen in the best hotels, conceptual yachts that work… what have the Italians done for us sailors…?

The advent of Solaris, Advanced, Mylius, ICE and many other Italian manufacturers, make the aerial view of Mediterranean marinas and harbours like an elaborate game of Where’s Wally (geddit?!).

Now, don’t get me wrong here. I understand that anyone with more than a passing sense of style (certainly not me) would be spluttering on their craft ale on the inference that the Italians have only just started it. Of course Wally stunned the world in 1994 with WALLYGATOR, and have been producing some of the most stunning pieces of marine architecture since then.

But the difference is a huge increase in quality of build and technology that is bringing the fantasy into reality. Carbon rigging and hull materials are now the norm, open deck space, ring frame bulkheads inside for open plan living and the interiors are now really designed with living in mind, rather than just function. It is an exciting time for sure. The general malaise in the Scandinavian boatbuilding industry is more than tempered by the growth in Italian style, chic and performance never before seen. The reality now is, if you are looking for a performance cruising yacht, and even a world blue water yacht, Italy is becoming the go-to place.

But the difference is a huge increase in quality of build and technology that is bringing the fantasy into reality. Carbon rigging and hull materials are now the norm, open deck space, ring frame bulkheads inside for open plan living and the interiors are now really designed with living in mind, rather than just function. It is an exciting time for sure. The general malaise in the Scandinavian boatbuilding industry is more than tempered by the growth in Italian style, chic and performance never before seen. The reality now is, if you are looking for a performance cruising yacht, and even a world blue water yacht, Italy is becoming the go-to place.

We are certainly very proud to represent Advanced and Solaris and can confidently confirm a huge amount of interest and currently have a number of yachts in build.

As for the world of racing, stability seems to be a good word to sum up most of the action. Fleets are growing and shrinking as they do, but the fast growth markets of J70, Fast 40+, foiling dinghy’s are now established and stable. One Design events are healthy, Offshore is certainly very healthy, with the largest ever fleet in the Caribbean 600, and Fastnet entries filling up in a matter of minutes.

The word of handicap racing is thought-provoking, with the first ever dual handicap world championship being muted for next year in Denmark; this is a very interesting development and may finally give an answer to what the world is waiting for. A true yachting world championship, perhaps?

As with every rule, there are exceptions. The offshore-specific yachts, and what I mean by this are one designs, box rules like the latest foiling Open 60’s, do not go unnoticed; the simile of a Roman Chariot beckons and thus the famous image of Alex Thomson standing on the side foil is reminiscent of a modern day Boadicea.

The market is showing strong form as I write, with all areas showing movement and flow. Currency bouncing around is helping, and with the world’s current political confusion, this is likely to continue. We keep very close to the markets and are in position to offer up to date advice on marketing, pricing and interest. This is of course our opinion and markets change quickly, and it is important to be aware of that. Tempting though it may be to listen to the advice of the salty sea dog at the end of the bar, let’s face it, “he’s not the messiah…”

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