Charting a Course Through Challenges: SYBAss General Assembly 2023

The superyacht industry has experienced a whirlwind of changes and challenges over the past few years, with everything from the pandemic to supply chain issues, the conflict in Ukraine and a cost of living crisis offering potential roadblocks to growth. However, as we ventured into 2023 we found ourselves navigating a seascape filled not just with trials but also opportunities, and once again the superyacht sector has proven itself remarkably resilient. The annual general assembly of the Superyacht Builders Association (SYBAss), held in Monaco on 26 September, encapsulated this dynamic environment.

The assembly provided members with an opportunity to contemplate this year’s progress and decide the future of the association. Moreover, it marked the welcoming of a new member, featured informative presentations outlining the present and future prospects of the industry, and introduced several new initiatives. The total SYBAss membership now stands at 25, representing many of the key superyacht builders in the 40+ metre segment.

The superyacht market looks strong in 2023

During the assembly Erik Floor, Eric Prinsen and Eric van der Knaap, the authors of the SYBAss Economic Report, presented the current status of the global economy and what that means for the superyacht industry. Also, specific attention was given to their research into artificial intelligence and if – and how – it could become an increasingly useful tool or potential disruptor for the builders of superyachts.

The economic report presents an overview of the global economic landscape in 2022, revealing 3.4% growth in global GDP. This growth followed the robust recovery of 6.3% observed in 2021. However, the global economy faces multiple challenges, including soaring energy costs, an elevated cost of living and escalating inflation rates, all of which exert significant pressure.

Notably, for the second consecutive year, there has been a slight decrease in the billionaire population, following a substantial surge in numbers observed in 2021. Over the long term, there has been an average annual increase of 8% in the number of billionaires. This trend signifies a shifting dynamic within the global wealth landscape.

Despite challenges in various economic sectors, the superyacht market appears remarkably vigorous in 2023. Notably, Russian orders have dwindled significantly since the onset of the conflict in Ukraine. Nevertheless, the overall superyacht demand seems to be stabilising after a decade-long decline of approximately 4% per year. If current trends persist, it is projected that a total of 383 superyacht launches can be anticipated over the next five years. Moreover, there were 78 launches recorded to July 2023.

Advancing Together

The general assembly afforded the chance to learn about additional initiatives and projects that the secretariat is undertaking. Central to these are a focus on regulatory matters, particularly at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) level where SYBAss holds representation to monitor potential industry impacts and advocate for the sector. The secretariat provided updates both on the areas of greatest concern to IMO – namely, greenhouse gas emissions and environmental elements – and on other areas that maritime regulations encompass that could have a direct impact on the superyacht industry.

There were also updates on progress with revisions to the REG Yacht Code according to recent IMO amendments, on SYBAss working with Classification Societies to improve consultation with the industry, and the latest on work toward a Unified Yacht Code and Gross Tonnage guidelines.

After some updates on key yacht shows held throughout the upcoming year, there was a chance for members to hear how the Superyacht Alliance initiative is progressing with its aim to improve standards of professionalism across the superyacht industry.

Finally, the general assembly allowed for a moment of reflection and friendly conversation before the rigours of the Monaco Yacht Show, which started on 27 September. It highlighted once again the sense of collective purpose shared by all SYBAss members toward ongoing strengthening of the global industry – a facet that has without doubt helped the sector navigate the tricky waters of the past few years on a steady keel.