The very first Singapore Yacht Show early this month marked the island-state’s first step toward being a global yachting presence.
Contributed By Bernie Guan
The inaugural Singapore Yacht Show 2011 recently concluded its run at ONE°15 Marina Club in Sentosa Cove. From April 8 to 10, an astounding line-up of 12 sailing and motor superyachts was showcased alongside a premium trade exhibition that featured several world-renowned yachting companies such as Palmer Johnson, Northop and Johnson, Informa Yacht Group and Prout International. A superyacht is a luxury yacht that’s privately owned and managed by a professional crew.
This highly anticipated event offers super-wealthy Asian consumers a door to the luxury lifestyle that has long been made a privilege of the global yachting network. With doors flung wide open to international yacht builders, brokers and suppliers, the SYS—organized by Informa Yacht Group with the Superyacht Singapore Association, supported by the Singapore Tourism Board and official venue partner ONE°15 Marina Club—effectively brought together influential business leaders, VIPs, celebrities and yachting enthusiasts.
Jean-Jacques Lavigne, general manager of ONE°15 Luxury Yachting and executive director of Superyacht Singapore Association, says the road to success has not been easy. Six years ago, its founding members became aware of an upcoming new marina in Sentosa Cove. Despite the lack of resources and guidance, SSA managed to strike out and form a recognized body to link the fledging superyacht community in Singapore to its marina of custom-build berths.
“The members worked together with the different marinas in the region to provide end-to-end services. They helped the association to send out their welcome message: ‘Singapore and the rest of Southeast Asia are beautiful to cruise in.’”
The group’s hard work eventually paid off when they “managed to attract more and more superyachts, from 16 in 2006 to 81 in 2010.” Lavigne has his sights set on “welcoming 200 superyacht visits in 2012 and over 500 by 2015.”
Currently, “there are very few dedicated superyacht shows in the world. Historically, countries that have hosted this type of dedicated yacht shows are Monaco, Abu Dhabi and Fort Lauderdale in Florida, USA.” All three places have become renowned venues for superyacht events.
Lavigne explains, “A lot of people in the industry felt that the Asian market is ready—perhaps SSA has served as a catalyst. We were very happy to organize the first Asia superyacht show in Singapore.” For him and the team, the Frenchman admits it is a big achievement, with more than 3,000 attendees setting foot on the event grounds.
Throughout the three-day event, the huge turnout at the marina were greeted by a 12-superyacht contingent that included the 187-foot Aegean Montigne, the 108-foot Broward Nymphaea, the 100-foot schooner Raja Laut, and the 116-foot Azimut Hye Seas II owned by Arthur Tay, chairman of the ONE°15 Marina Club in Sentosa Cove.
A visual feast for seasoned boating enthusiasts, many of these private yachts can cost up to tens of millions of dollars. According to Lavigne, “Palmer Johnson yachts, for instance cost between US$30 to 60 million dollars, and owners of such luxurious yachts must definitely be more than US$500 million in net worth—minimum.” Plus, the average annual maintenance and managing cost of a superyacht can reach up to 15 percent of the vessel’s value.
While SYS offers a glimpse of glamor from bow to stern, potential owners need a jolt of reality. Lavigne says that “super-yachts are rather expensive and anyone who is interested in buying a private yacht between 20 and 30 meters in length is usually a multi-millionaire.” Nonetheless, he adds, “The fascinating part of the boating and yachting industry goes beyond purchasing a yacht.”
The pleasure comes as one becomes involved in obtaining documentation such as regulatory licenses, insurance, maintenance and training upon ownership. “It encompasses everything from the interior design to the internal machinery and systems,” says Lavigne.
Unlike private jets, which are highly regulated in terms of materials such as stringent requirements for interiors and overall designs, superyachts can be designed from scratch. While one can’t design and build a private jet for S$100 million, but for that amount, you can custom-build a superyacht. This process requires a meeting of minds between the builder and the owner. Yacht owners derive pleasure from participating in the design and construction. For this reason, most superyacht owners find the building period stimulating, a time of explosive creativity.
At the moment, SSA has 24 members and is growing. Lavigne hopes for the association to reach a total membership of 50 by year-end.
Lavigne, who cycles to work daily from home in Pasir Ris to Sentosa, and whose full-time job involves extending the superyacht charter, admits he “sowed lots of time and energy into rebuilding the industry.” SSA is a thriving by-product of his daily work that is bound for the high seas with the mission to propel Singapore into the global yachting arena.
For more information on Superyacht Singapore Association and membership eligibility, log on to http://www.superyacht.sg.
Assuming the role of the executive director in Superyacht Singapore Association was “a God-given opportunity,” says Jean-Jacques Lavigne, 42, a native of Brittany, France.
Lavigne, who has no background in sailing and yachting, first left France to start work in Japan more than a decade ago. After the stint in Japan, he returned to France for a couple of years, before another opportunity brought him back into the Asian region. Then he came to Singapore to set up the regional office for a financial newswire. Through years of financial challenges following the dissolution of his company, the Christian received prophecy after prophecy from church leaders that he would become “a person of influence in the marketplace and be able to influence very important people.” Initially, it was hard to embrace as Lavigne was still stinging from his business failure, but “one step after another step, I ended up in the superyacht business.”
As time passed, he built himself a reliable reputation, which placed him favorably among the movers and shakers of the yachting business. Soon, he was influencing and reaching out to high net worth individuals.
Lavigne’s enthusiasm in participating in community development programs in Indonesia, such as financing primary schools and eradicating poverty in coastal areas through promoting and growing marine-related businesses to the Indonesian government, positions him positively with the authorities. Ultimately, being a representative in the superyacht industry, he hopes to steer SSA toward promoting Singapore as a superyacht destination and a hub to create economic value for Singapore in this industry.
The 42-year-old happily married father of three, shares that “work demands have at times made dealing with fatherhood a challenge.” On top of a busy schedule at work and at the non-profit SSA, commitments in cell group and ministry has limited his family time. But “by going to church together, it really helps a lot,” he says. “When I reach home, I always try to go see the kids, talk to them and kiss them.” Even when they are sound asleep, his children will get a goodnight kiss from Daddy.
Whatever time he can give his wife, Celine, and children, Crystal, Douglas and Ines, he declares, “I will be as fun as possible so that they do not find me too boring!”