Not only was it a chance to members to reflect on an extraordinary year so far, the assembly also welcomed a new member, enjoyed a range of presentations profiling the current and future state of the industry, and elected its board for the next three-year period. Bringing the total membership total to 24, the new member joining in 2022 is Golden Yachts (Greece).
Rising to the challenges
The assembly was addressed by Erik Floor, Eric Prinsen and Eric van der Knaap who presented information from the detailed 75-page 2022 SYBAss Economic Report (available only to SYBAss members) to outline the current state of global wealth, ultimately leading to projections on the future demand for superyachts.
The report shows that the IMF’s latest projections suggest worldwide GDP growth slowing down to 3.2% in 2022 and 2.9% in 2023, after showing a strong 6.1% growth in 2021. Several factors are also impacting on the global economy, with high energy costs, higher costs of living, and increasing inflation rates all playing a part. Against this background, the billionaire population continues to grow at an average rate of 8% per annum over the past two decades, although the conflict in Ukraine has disproportionately affected the number of billionaires in Eastern Europe. The report outlines how the gap between the number of billionaires and superyacht ownership continues to widen (this does vary by region), although trends suggest that maintaining the current ratio would lead to between 80 and 100 superyacht launches per year between now and 2026.
A key element of the presentation was highlighting any impact on the superyacht industry and demonstrating how it is still benefitting from the boom of 2020 and 2021 and, thus far, has not experienced the dramatic fall-off that many feared earlier in the year might come. The report reveals that superyacht orders remain buoyant with a record 134 orders for 40-metre-plus superyachts in 2021, and even with the loss of the Russian clients the forward order books suggest resilience to weather possible economic slowdowns over the coming two to three years. Indeed, the report also discloses that the number of expected yacht launches for 2022 is the highest in a decade.
The SYBAss board, currently comprising five members, was up for re-election this year for another three-year term. The current board proposed to enlarge the board to its maximum of seven members, securing not only the re-election of existing board members (Giovanna Vitelli, Benetti; Jan-Bart Verkuyl, Feadship; Michael Breman, Lürssen Yachts; Michelle Jones, Delta Marina; Theo Hooning) but also introducing Massimo Perotti of Sanlorenzo, and with Giovanni Pomati from Nautor’s Swan elected to represent the sailing yacht sector. Jim Ruffolo of Burger Boat Company chaired this portion of the meeting.
Other key elements of the assembly included an update on and discussion of the collective SYBAss response to the Ukraine crisis and the increased scrutiny of the wider media that resulted from the crisis. The assembly also discussed ongoing regulatory matters, including at International Maritime Organisation (IMO) level, in which SYBAss has representation to monitor potential impacts on the industry and act as a voice for the industry as a whole. There was also a progress update on the secretariat’s investigations into the idea of a Unified Yacht Code.
“Despite the challenges, it is clear that the superyacht industry remains in a good position,” says SYBAss Secretary General Theo Hooning. “The annual assembly was also a chance for SYBAss members to discuss how to tackle other challenges facing the wider industry, whether that’s in crisis communications resulting from the war in Ukraine or standing up for the sector at the highest levels of international maritime governance. We still live in uncertain times, but the energy in the room proves that we are stronger together, and that there is still a lot of scope for optimism for the immediate and longer term future of this vibrant and exciting sector of the marine industry.”