There really are an awful lot of boats at the Singapore Yacht Show. From super duper superketch Vertigo at 67m and the astonishing Exuma (65m) all the way to a Chris Craft Silver Bullet at a mere 6.15m, there’s pretty much something for everyone here. If your bank manager is going to buck at a loan to buy Cloud 9 for a few tens of million of dollars, then try chartering Exuma, in Asia, for a mere US$262,000 a week. You know it makes sense. We have found a submarine, an amphibious jeep, a hovercraft and a seaplane, but as yet no radio-controlled helicopters. Phew.
We’ve also been talking to a lot of people. Grand Banks are in the process of joining forces with Palm Beach Yachts, the north-of-Sydney builder run by Mark Richards (that’s right, the skipper of Wild Oats XI). Grand Banks report that business is, indeed, good at the moment, and that they are very happy at the Singapore Yacht Show having sold a 53-footer yesterday; signed, sealed, and to be delivered in two weeks. CEO Peter Poli said that he is 'immensely impressed with the SYS. What has been achieved here in only four years is remarkable. We recon that the level of good solid interest here and the quality of the enquiries is even higher that some of the Australian boat shows. So, size isn’t everything, even if the SYS is looking pretty muscular these days. 'It looks like a real boat show,' said Poli, 'not just a collection of boats that the dealers happen to have in stock. I hope that the industry will continue and grow and continue support for this event – it deserves it.'
If you've got a taste for style and luxury salted with a little adventure, then beg borrow or steal a VIP pass and take a look at m/y Exuma. Built by Picciotti, the motor yacht arm of Perini Navi, Exuma was built to owner’s spec as an out-and-out expedition yacht 'that doesn’t look like an expedition yacht.' Designed by Philippe Briand, the super-slim hull and elegant superstructure are all in aluminium. Light weight, streamlined, and easily driven. The point is that a good deal of space that would normally be taken up on a vessel of this size by enormous staterooms is instead given over to a huge stern garage and (forward) storage for the two jetskis, a small jet boat, a hovercraft and amphibious jeep. Throw in kayaks, paddle boards and dinghies just to fill up the corners. Personally, I can never quite see why superyacht owners are so enamoured with suites the size of a warehouse. I think if I was inviting a sprinkling of friends on board (Exuma sleeps nine) then I’d be spending more time enjoying the company of said friends and getting on with a bit of expedition-ing rather than hiding in a luxurious barn and calling for room service.
To cap it off, Exuma is exquisitely turned out – none of that money-no-object gaudy stuff here. The loudest colour accent on the boat is the marble washbasin units in the bathrooms – the veined marble is almost blue, and looks just like a splash of South Pacific seawater. It's perfect.
If there was ever an expression of support for an event, this time it would be Simpson Marine putting their boats where their mouth is – all 17 of them. 'This is the best trade collection of boats in Asia,' said Mike Simpson. Not only are Simpson’s celebrating 30 years since starting a boat sales business in a container in Aberdeen, Hong Kong, but thue have marked the milestone by taking on the dealership for Monte Carlo Yachts, the luxe motor yacht marque of the Beneteau group. Monte Carlo CEO Carla Demaria said, 'We consider Simpson Marine to be the most experienced and professional boat dealer in Asia. We are blending Italian obsession with design to a powerful French industrial capability, and we are creating a unique product of which we are very proud.' This was yesterday. Ms Demaria she left today to go to Brazil 'for another meeting'. We are guessing that she flies with a gold card.
Before the heavens opened (they were certainly threatening, but haven’t got any further yet) we took a quick canter round the pontoons and found one of Tilli Antonelli’s Wider boats. Antonelli was the man who invented Pershing, and is obviously the sort of chap who calls a spade a spade. If your boat goes like an ICBM, call it a Pershing. If it gets wider at the touch of a button, call it a Wider. The idea here is to reproduce the ‘beach club’ effect with a launch rather than on a superyacht’s transom deck. At rest, the Wider expands to almost double its original beam, providing an astonishing amount of deck space in relation to its overall length, and dropping stabiliser units into the water at the same time. Voila, bags of room to enjoy your g&t and no chance of spilling a drop.
For a long time now a helicopter on a superyacht has been the ne plus ultra in the toy department, but we prefer a flying boat. It weighs less, costs less, requires less maintenance, and folds away into a smaller space. The Dornier S-Ray 007 is based on the first successful Dornier flying boat, Claude Dornier’s 1921 Libelle. The baby S-Ray is designed by Claude’s grandson, Iren Dornier. The two-seater is constructed from carbon-reinforced and designed for use on both land and sea. Next time we are cruising in the southern part of the Maldives and fancy dinner at the Four Seasons up at Baa Atoll, we are going to crane out the S-Ray 007 and head for Blu at Landa Giraavaru. Iren Dorier describes this little darling as 'intelligent engineering with a style that could not be anything else but Dornier; it is simple, functional, understated and beautiful – an aeroplane for a passionate pilot to fly the soul.'
As the show winds down for the evening there are cocktail parties poppinp up all over. Dunia Baru’s lights are on and the guests are enjoying some quality conviviality courtesy of Northrop & Johnson, and Heart Media have opened the champagne – lots of it. There’s more B2B and B2C going on here than you’ll see at any other boat show in Asia. It’s partly the size of the show, but it’s also a lot do with the venue and the quality of the exhibitors. There’s style in spades at the Singapore Yacht Show, and for any boating enthusiast in the region it’s time to make a note in the diary for next year’s event: 23-26 April 2015. Save the date.