Jeff Bezos stirs interest in superyachts

Amazon billionaire’s purchase revives interest in the secretive world of the ultimate status symbol

As much of the world’s population got considerably poorer in the wake of the global pandemic, Jeff Bezos’s Amazon was ideally placed to take advantage of the crisis. This is one of the big reasons that Jeff Bezos has seen his wealth roughly double since 2017.

With an estimated net worth of $186 billion, the $500 million the recently deposed richest man in the world is spending on his new toy is a mere drop in the ocean.

What do we know about the yacht?

The yacht is being built in the Netherlands by Oceanco, a company that specializes in building superyachts. The highly secretive project is known simply as Y721 and is expected to be completed next month. With an estimated build time of 5 years, Mr. Bezos is believed to have ordered the boat several years ago.

Once completed, the yacht will be among the world’s largest sailing yachts, The Oceanco yard is also responsible for building the Black Pearl, at 350ft long this is currently the world’s second-largest sailing yacht.

The cost doesn’t include some added extras, such as the smaller support yacht, which features a helipad. The main yacht cannot support a helipad due to its three massive sailing masts. The support yacht is also expected to be loaded with other luxuries like speedboats, cars and, according to some experts, even a submarine.

A buoyant yacht industry

The yacht industry has seen unprecedented growth over the past twenty years. It also seems to be another industry that has benefited from the global pandemic.

According to the U.S. National Marine Manufacturers Association, yacht and boat sales in 2020 reached a 13-year high. They say that this rise is reflecting how more people were turning to the water for socially distanced activities during the pandemic.

Sam Tucker, head of superyacht research at market intelligence firm Vessels Value said - "The market's been absolutely roaring. There's been a record number of transactions done, and that trend is being sustained even until now."

According to Mr. Tucker, the second-hand market is also thriving. He described the market for used yachts as being “nuts” and “red-hot.”

Mr. Tucker said that there are currently 9,357 yachts larger than 65ft on the seas. Of these around 85% are motorized and the remainder is sailing yachts like the one Mr. Bezos has ordered.

Sales had initially slumped at the beginning of the pandemic as lockdown orders hit much of the U.S, but then immediately soared. According to yacht broker Bob Denison, at the start of June, it was like “someone had flipped a switch”.

He added that - "There's been nothing like it before. The amount of demand is two or threefold more than I've ever seen."

Based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Mr. Denisons company sold 1,008 and yachts in 2020. An increase of 35% over the previous year. He said the company was on track to see another 30% increase in the current year.

Of these sales, 65 of the boats changing hands can be classified as superyachts. So far this year, another 40 superyachts have been sold by the company and demand is far outstripping supply.

It seems that the superyacht industry is a surprising beneficiary of the global pandemic.