Over the past few decades, the increase in demand for large yachts and the corresponding increase in competition has resulted in significant price differences as brands vie for their slice of the market. Accurate costing is essential to ensure a shipyard makes a profit and to provide a reliable basis for client negotiations, not only when a new-build project is being tendered, but also for estimating the pre-owned value of a yacht.
The problem is that no specific tool for making accurate valuations currently exists, at least in part because shipyards are notoriously reluctant to share their cost data (research by the Delft University of Technology and Azure in 2016 to develop a Superyacht Cost Estimation Tool relied on information from subcontractors). Instead, owners’ teams and brokers refer to price per gross ton when making comparisons. But gross tonnage (GT) as a measure of a vessel’s overall internal volume was adopted in the late 1960s to provide a universal tonnage measurement system and determine things like manning regulations, safety rules and port duties for commercial shipping. It was certainly not intended as a price comparison formula for superyachts.
“It’s crucial that any comparisons made are done so correctly,” says Theo Hooning, Secretary General of the Superyacht Builders Association (SYBAss). “Superyachts are incredibly complex products, built for different purposes and different levels of comfort. As such, comparisons such as price per gross tonnage – or worse price per metre – are not only simplistic, they are damaging to the entire industry. It’s imperative that brokers and clients understand these differences and realise the value of a product beyond the numbers. Yes, clients want to make comparisons when searching the market, but as an industry we have a responsibility to ensure that any comparisons made are done so accurately.”