SuperYacht iQ 2017: Thought leadership in yachting

Written by Gemma Fottles

In the superyacht industry and beyond, SuperYacht Company is renowned for our dedication to the accurate compilation, analysis and presentation of data and statistics. This dedication has been at the heart of the whole brand from the very beginning; from travelling the world taking exclusive behind-the-scenes photographs, to attending every major show and event out there in order to gather news and information, to visiting shipyards, designers and key industry players personally to establish valuable personal relationships and experience first-hand what’s really going on in the world of superyachts.

This year will see the publication of our second annual SuperYacht iQ Market Report, where Company Director and superyacht intelligence authority, Merijn de Waard, with the help of our SuperYacht iQ team once again assesses the market in unparalleled detail in order to provide decision makers with the answers needed to make informed choices and changes in the future. Here, De Waard explains in his own words what sets this Market Report apart from others and why the improvement of the accuracy of data in this industry is imperative to facilitate change for the better.

The collection of data is a 24/7 process. How do you ensure that the intelligence you present to the industry is accurate? It’s no secret, for example, that yards can inflate their order books to present themselves in a better light…

Well, there are a few things here. First of all the order books are traditionally compiled by journalists who are not data or research experts. They simply copy and paste the lists from the shipyards and publish this data. While many traditional media companies claim to be data experts, it is mostly done by people who have no previous experience with yachts or who have very little hands-on shipyard experience.

Around the world there are probably around 20 people who really know what is going on the market for yachts over 60-metres. Without those connections and without having their trust, it would be extremely difficult to find out what is being built but also, more importantly, what will be signed soon and what has just been signed.

We’re usually aware of a project before it has even been signed. The key is to work respectfully with this information. Many report these sales only when they are announced and do not possess the connections to find this information sooner, hence the reason they claim deliveries are the most important to forecast the future of the industry. They simply don’t have the data and don’t know how to analyse the market accurately.

So looking at superyacht deliveries is not the best parameter?

Deliveries are of course important, however we have to first explain what we are talking about; there is a difference between deliveries and completions and many people don’t know that difference. When a yacht is completed it does not mean that it has been delivered. A yacht is completed when the shipyard has finished all their work and when she has completed her sea trials. A delivery is when the builder hands over the yacht, and transfers the ownership to a client. In some cases when the yacht is built on speculation, this can be two years after completion. Another problem with only working with deliveries is that companies might count a project twice, as it was first completed and two years later delivered.

Looking at deliveries is a good parameter but just one of them. If people claim that deliveries are the only real numbers, then it is usually because they do not have a good idea about how the sales market operates or the right data to provide real insight on the performance of the market.

How important are new build sales? Are they as significant as deliveries?

New-build sales are very important, but you need to have the right data and you have to understand the differences between new orders, speculation sales and yachts that are in-build and resold form one client to another client. If you don’t differentiate those numbers then you are most likely going to count projects twice. Like I have stressed many times, a new addition to the production book is not the same as a new order.

Every year there is a high number of predicted deliveries, while the actual number of deliveries is always substantially fewer. How do you explain this?

There are a few reasons for this and most likely it is one of the following five reasons:

- The owner runs into financial problems and can’t continue the build or slows down the build
- The owner changes his mind and these changes impact the build schedule
- The builder runs into financial problems and cannot complete the build
- The project is being built on speculation and a buyer is not yet found. The builder might slow the build down
- The builder has been too optimistic about the delivery date and miscalculated the production time

What’s the difference between a production book and an order book?

In the superyacht business the term order book is mostly used for all the yachts that are in-build, but this is not correct. There is a big difference between the two. A production book documents all the superyachts that are currently in-build, whereas an order book looks at the yachts in the production book that are sold.

How do you analyse the new-build market?

There are a few different things you have to look at, starting with the number of yachts in the production book and the number of yachts in the order book (i.e. the number of projects sold). There needs to be a healthy ratio between those numbers, because if too many projects are available then the prices will be under pressure. However there also needs to be enough projects available, otherwise it means that shipyards are not investing in new speculation projects.

A few numbers we keep track of:

- In-build superyacht sales: split into new orders, speculation sales, and projects resold
- Completed superyacht sales: split into new yachts (spec, but completed) and used
- Number of new speculation projects started
- Number of deliveries per year compared to the number of projected deliveries

If you know all these numbers than you are able to give a good indication about the state of the market.

What sets the SuperYacht iQ Market Report apart from its competitors?

In short: thought leadership in yachting. We invest a lot of time in analysing the business - not just the data, but also the processes, deals and other factors. We also create mechanisms to analyse and track the industry in a better way. There are a lot of people who just keep doing things the same way they did 20 years ago, but that just does not work anymore. While the iQ Market Report contains a lot of data, information and intelligence, I also share my vision on improvements and achievements in the superyacht industry.

Do you think the importance of the accurateness of the data in this industry will grow in the coming years?

There is a lot of inaccurate, incorrect data, information and intelligence fed to the industry which is not doing any good for anyone and is, in fact, misleading. For some, it is more a marketing tool or an easy profit centre. If those are your main intentions, and not the passion for the yachting industry and intelligence, then you will not get it right - your priorities are wrong.

Since I was eight years old I have been a yacht enthusiast - I’ve worked in this industry for more than twelve years and I am planning to do so for many more. I have been to a lot of conferences where people keep talking about problems without coming up with any actual solutions. We would prefer to take action to create a better business. We as a company personally invest a lot of time and money into setting new standards in this business.

What are some of the key points you will be exploring in the 2017 iQ Market Report?

Besides analysing the production, yacht sales, speculation builds and ownership, we will also look at the sales of completed yachts this year. Naturally I don’t want to reveal too much, so my advice is to buy the iQ Report and see for yourself.

Order your copy of the SuperYacht iQ Report 2017 at



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