Turning Tides: Fernando Nicholson on the yacht sales boom

Written by Parisa Hashempour

SuperYacht Times speaks to Camper & Nicholson's Senior Yacht Broker, Fernando Nicholson, to find out why he is so optimistic about the future of yacht sales and a potential 'boom' as we come out the other side of the pandemic. 

Fernando NicholsonPhoto: Camper & NicholsonIn February 2020, before we knew what Covid-19 would mean, I had three projects under construction and all were going tremendously well. They were running on time with the quality that we were expecting — we were happy. In April 2020, the virus escalated, leading to the closure of countries and regions alike. Owners were negatively impacted and alarming emails began reaching us from the yards. May and June of 2020 were difficult months to convince buyers to continue with projects. However, it was then that I first started to see a light at the end of the tunnel. That light was the beginnings of a centre console, or day boat, boom, many of which were being sold in South Florida. At the time, I was looking for a centre console for one of my friends with little success, due to lockdown-induced closures. During those months even going fishing was an adventure; you were the only one out there.Carpe Diem and Moca yachts anchored in FloridaPhoto: Ron RaffertySouth Florida reactivated business in July 2020. Flights reopened and tourists were arriving from all over the USA and Central and South America. Real estate strengthened and the sale of centre consoles and day boats picked up too. Factories opened and stocks barely lasted a week in the showrooms. The same happened with paddle boats, windsurfers, and Jet Skis — anything that floated and gave a sense of freedom was sold faster than shelves could be restocked. Due to a lack of inventory, builders of production and semi-production yachts offered new innovative designs with accommodation and interesting new aft decks that emulate a private beach. There were also clients who already had production and semi-production yachts, and wanted to upgrade. These connoisseurs knew what they wanted in terms of engines, decor, volumes, and life on board.Yacht Haven Grande Miami marinaPhoto: Island Global YachtingThe US market has driven the wakeup call of boating due to the necessity of being outdoors. Starting with our local centre console and small day boats market, clients with higher expectations of comfort who navigated further on semi-custom or custom yachts quickly followed. The same will happen to Europeans after they have been vaccinated and can travel the continent; yacht sales will boom again. I see good years heading our way. As humans, we have an intrinsic need to be out there in contact with nature, with the feeling of both freedom and safety — yachting is one of those activities that meets these needs.

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