2022 started with a healthy dollop of enthusiasm. Covid infections were dropping off and the world was opening up for business and travel. This included the UK market which was growing faster than any other country in the G7. It didn’t last long though. The start of the war in Ukraine in early February rocketed global energy prices and it was clear that global inflation was here to stay for a while. The combination of supply chain pressures lingering from the pandemic, raw material shortages and shipping increases meant 2022 was another difficult year for yacht manufacturing and delays became inevitable. Despite the uncertainty, the interest in the yachting sector remained strong with the world now back on the move. The later part of the year saw sterling move close to parity with the dollar however, the euro beat us there! Those holding tech stocks suffered and those holding minerals, fuel and Europeans with high dollar revenues did well. A turbulent year to say the least.
Pearl Yachts continued their upwards sales trajectory with a strong $50m order book. They have been converting owners from the British and Italian higher volume production motor yacht brands, with their unique designs and high level of build quality. Bill Dixon is behind the innovation and superb seakeeping. World-renowned interior designer Kelly Hoppen CBE works exclusively with Pearl, and her ever-evolving style offers 3 differing interior choices that are unlike anything else on the market. This brand ensures all yachts come with 5 year warranty as standard and with a current range of 62, 72, 82 and 95 feet, it’s a fantastic time be running the Pearl desk at Berthon! We delivered two new Pearl 62s to clients who are keeping this in the UK and unveiled a new Pearl sales office at Swanwick Marina on the Hamble in 2022. Motor yacht central for large motor yachts in the UK, it’s a great location.
2022 also saw the world premiere of the Pearl 72 in Fort Lauderdale and European premiere at Düsseldorf. This epic 22m flybridge yacht follows the award-winning Pearl 62, which has 24 proud owners and has been successfully delivered all over the world. Expectations were high for the new Pearl 72 and I am delighted to say that she delivers!
The first of her kind, she offers two Master Cabins, one forward with a private entrance, as typically seen on much larger yachts, and the second a full beam amidships. In total there are four beautifully appointed double en-suite cabins as well as accommodation for the crew. She also has an exceptional garage with space for a William 345 tender, Jet Ski and two Sea Bobs. It doesn’t stop there, as two fold down balconies at water level create a beach club. Kelly Hoppen’s new “Indulgence” interior design theme wowed everyone. A sleek modern interior with smooth lines and overlapping textures embodies Kelly’s signature style. The design intent of this yacht was to capture New York City urban living on water, and it is now available across the Pearl range.
Pearl’s shipyard in Xiamen is building up to 15 yachts a year, taking the time to build fewer yachts to ensure the highest standards. All parts are sourced from the team in the UK and are ordered based on their quality credentials
Each build is extremely well managed and overseen by Pearl’s experienced Operations Director, Paul Hannah, who has a very skilful team of 300. Every Pearl yacht goes through a wide ranging programme of testing, both ashore and on the water, before the commissioning process managed by Berthon for the UK and in France.
Boat shows were back in a big way in 2022 and it was clear from attendance levels and from speaking to others in our industry that they had been sorely missed. From the clients’ point of view, it’s the best opportunity to see all the competition on display, before making what is a considered family decision. In the UK we exhibited at London Luxury Afloat in the heart of the City of London and at the Swanwick Motor Yacht Show on the River Hamble with great success.
The Yachting industry is an innovative space and we are seeing some radical technology coming online, including superfast satellite high bandwidth connectivity, Hybrid propulsion systems and artificial intelligence for navigation to name just a few. We all know docking can be stressful! Swedish Volvo Penta, with its long history of collaborating with the US tech giant Garmin, launched the VP Assisted Docking for IPS and the Garmin Surround View Camera System. Assisted Docking has been designed with the Integrated Propulsion System, cleverly calculating how your yacht is being affected by the wind and tide state and counteracting that, all within your desired movement of the Joystick. Additionally, there is a feature (often referred to as the sky hook) to hold the yacht onto the dock, whilst the lines are put ashore. The Garmin Surround View Camera System compliments this and is a live monitoring system that provides a bird’s eye view from the helm, using 6 cameras for a 360-degrees in real time. Together they deliver a greater peace of mind and improve control and spatial awareness when in tight spaces or if weather conditions are challenging.
The longstanding agreement between Windy Scandinavia AB (formerly Windy Boats AS) and Berthon International came to an end in 2022, after 27 successful years and with the two businesses moving in different directions it was a joint decision. We continue to support our Windy clients with aftersales. We are still heavily involved in the Windy brokerage market and our brokerage team have a lot of knowledge to offer. We wish our Scandinavian friends well for the future.
Looking forward, maybe the UK will make it through 2023 with the same Prime Minister? Geopolitics make it clear that no one can predict what is going to happen, but we are prepared for a short slowdown in the world economy and the challenges as well as opportunities that this will bring. Berthon’s debt free status, as ever, will help ease the minds of clients during uncertain financial times. I’m personally very excited to be representing Pearl Yachts who continue to push the boundaries of yacht design and I want to thank all our clients and wish them a fantastic 2023 summer season, enjoying being out on the water with their Pearls.