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Thread: The sixth C makes waves in S'pore

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    Default The sixth C makes waves in S'pore

    Published March 17, 2007

    The sixth C makes waves in S'pore

    Islanders find new love in luxury pleasure crafts

    By VINCENT WEE


    (SINGAPORE) Cruising has become the sixth C. This is the hot story that's emerging from the boat sales figures over the past two years. Driven by a change in government thinking and the emerging waterfront property scene, the market for luxury boats in Singapore has seen a big turnaround.



    Dream boats: The Horizon superyachts. Kingfisher sold two Horizon 62s worth about US$1.8m each in the last year


    As people cotton onto the idea of a waterfront lifestyle, they are now reaching beyond the traditional five Cs: cruising in a luxury boat is the new thing when it comes to making a personal statement.

    According to industry watchers the turning point came about two years ago, amid talk about the integrated resorts and remaking Singapore. The signs, meanwhile, have become increasingly clear - from the bottoming out in the figures for the number of pleasure craft registrations to the influx of boat brokers to the Republic and the take-up of marina berths.

    The number of boats registered in the past few years decreased steadily - until last year when the number seemed to stabilise at just slightly over 3,200 boats. While new registrations have crept up only slightly from 184 in 2005 to 192 last year, it seems that more new boat purchases are anticipated, or at least the boat sellers seem to think so.

    The fact that at least three of the biggest boat brokers in the region are setting up offices here suggests that the market is set to expand, if not boom. Pen-Marine, a Penang-based distributor of top Italian brand Ferretti among others, opened a sales office in Raffles Marina in November; Simpson Marine, which is reputedly the biggest broker in the region, is setting up a second office in One15 Marina next month, in addition to its office in Raffles.

    Kingfisher Marine, a Phuket-based superyacht charterer and dealer for Taiwanese superyacht builder Horizon Yachts is also setting up shop. So is Grand Banks Yachts dealer Peninsula Boating. Major Phuket-based brokerage Lee Marine, which is a dealer for top-selling Australian brand Riviera, is also taking the plunge and establishing an office in Singapore.

    The single reason given by all these operators for opening up here is that they expect to see more new business. All of them not only enjoyed stellar sales in the past year but expect things to get even better.

    For example, Pen-Marine says they've sold several boats already since setting up here in November and at least one of these - a Ferretti 460 worth about 750,000 euros (S$1.5 million) - has been sold to an owner of a property in Sentosa Cove.

    'Since the revival of the Boat Asia show at Sentosa three years ago, we have seen the economy return with strength and the boating market beginning to grow, and we see much potential in the coming years,' said Pen-Marine managing director Oh Kean Shen. 'The development of One15, the upcoming Marina at Keppel Bay and the existing marinas like Republic of Singapore Yacht Club and Raffles Marina all provide excitement for boaters to enjoy these facilities,' he added.

    Kingfisher Marine director Kit Chotithamaporn, meanwhile, saw the change in the mindset of Singaporeans about two years ago. Happily for him, this change has translated into sales. Kingfisher has sold two Horizon 62s worth about US$1.8 million each in the last year.

    While hastening to add that superyacht sales are usually a protracted affair that can take a year from first meeting a potential client to signing a contract, Mr Kit says he has three more deals in the pipeline and hopes to pull in US$10 million a year in revenue over the next two years.

    Giant regional brokerage Simpson Marine, which has offices in all the major boating centres in Asia and has been in Singapore longest, including through the 1997 Asian financial crisis, anticipated the turnaround 18 months ago.

    Group general manager Bill Hutchison saw the same change of mindset the other brokers did. He cites the feel-good factor from the buoyant property and stock markets, the recovery of the economy and the development of Sentosa Cove and the integrated resorts as being significant contributors to his growing sales.

    Mr Hutchison says that in the last month alone, six new boats worth between 200,000 and one million euros each arrived on order for Simpson's clients.

    While reluctant to offer hard sales figures or forecasts, he disclosed that Simpson's Singapore sales in the first 10 months of FY2007 ending in March has already quadrupled from a year earlier, and FY2008 sales are expected to jump a further 30-40 per cent.

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    Default For some, living on water is more than gazing at the boats

    Published March 17, 2007

    For some, living on water is more than gazing at the boats

    By VINCENT WEE


    NATIONAL University of Singapore research professor John Potter wasn't sure about buying a waterfront property at Sentosa Cove. After all, he already has a great view of the water because he lives on it - aboard a boat berthed at the One 15 Marina. Still, he eventually bought a waterfront condo as an investment.

    For most other people, buying a place on the water is more straightforward. They are attracted to the water because of the glamorous lifestyle it suggests. Perhaps 90 per cent of them are content to just live this life vicariously by gazing at the boats beyond their window or backyard.

    But the other 10 per cent will go on to buy a boat - for any number of reasons. Among these is what people want out of life. Some want to connect with nature. And these people are on the increase, says Mr Porter. Others want to enjoy water-based pursuits - such as fishing, diving, cruising and boating - with their family. And how better to do this than live by the sea, says Pen-Marine's Oh Kean Shen.

    Still other people see the water as a way to express their personality. Plenty of new-generation Singaporeans have been exposed to boating culture in countries like Australia and the United States - and they have brought this interest back home.

    Indeed, a new boat owner these days is just as likely to be a young businessman out to make his mark as it is an older person who has made a pile and wants to sit back and enjoy the fruits of his labour, says Mr Oh.

    Along with boat sales, berths are filling up fast at marinas that are well-located and have good facilities. A One 15 spokesman says about 90 per cent of the marina's 204 berths have already been taken up, and 1,400 of the club's 4,000 memberships have been sold.

    Clearly hoping to ride on the waterfront wave right on its doorstep, One 15 has offered every land owner at Sentosa's South Cove an individual club membership.

    Raffles Marina won't reveal its figures, but marina manager Phil Blake says interest has picked up over the past year to 18 months, so the marina is 'comfortably full'.

    Raffles is the only Singapore marina with the prestigious five Gold Anchor award - the highest rating on the international marina scene, while One 15 is set to gain that rating when it opens next month.

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