While it seems like it might be dreamy, yacht ownership comes with a particular set of headaches. The sun and saltwater do their damage. Fuel costs, maintenance, updates and crew management are other hurdles that need navigating by time-challenged owners who may spend only two or three weeks on-board each year.
Fractional ownership (where multiple parties share costs in exchange for access) can start to look appealing, especially because yacht management is often included in the price. But what you gain in cost efficiency, you lose in freedom of choice, such as preference in travel dates, personalised design and even itinerary.
“Fractional ownership has never really worked in the past,” says Jim Evans, managing director of brokerage house SuperYachtsMonaco. “There have been various initiatives to try to make it work, but none have really succeeded, and I think that’s because ultra-high-net-worth individuals are alpha types. The negotiation in regard to location and dates with other owners is probably impossible.”
Andrea Pezzini, cofounder of the charter and brokerage firm Floating Life, unsurprisingly argues otherwise. “It’s a successful business model that we make money from,” he says, referencing the company’s operation of the 135-foot Ocean Pearl (above) under fractional ownership for the past 11 years. However, the working parameters can prove too restricting for some, and despite Pezzini’s time-share benefits, the demand is still there for increased flexibility.
Explorer-yacht builder Arksen has a new Adventure Syndicate Model born out of “trying to design an ownership methodology that works for families and gives them access to great adventures tied in with citizen science programs,” explains founder Jasper Smith. The initiative commits each Arksen vessel (below) to spend 10 percent of its time at sea involved in oceanographic research, education or conservation and enables owners to engage with important data-study work. In addition, Arksen’s model means that members buy shares in the boat, which are an asset class rather than an entitlement.
But for those who remain averse to the idea of sharing, Ocean Residences may have the answer—118 private apartments on board the future 925-foot Njord. Planned amenities for the gargantuan craft include beach clubs, helicopters with hangars, flat-bottom RIBs for Antarctica and limousine tenders for the Mediterranean. But the jury is still out on whether the floating real estate is actually aboard a superyacht or, for all intents and purposes, a cruise ship.
Whether or not the fractional model ever comes together on a large scale, for now, it’s still a fractious concept for many.