The superyacht industry returned to pre-financial crisis levels last year. But as Joel Flynn reports, rising costs and new regulation in 2016, combined with another slowdown, could mean fewer extravagances, even for the super rich.
Billionaires - brace yourselves. Superyachts are back in business. The industry that caters for those at the top of the money tree is returning to its pre-financial crisis levels, according to insiders. Younger buyers and a stronger dollar mean growing business for Europe's superyacht makers. But gone are the gaudy gold interiors of yester-year - increasingly replaced by yachts with practicality in mind. Designer Espen Oino is working on one right now. SOUNDBITE: Espen Oino International owner, Espen Oino, saying (English): "A big tender to carry the surfboards to the surf spots, a helicopter for snow skiing, so we have a pool/snow room on the top deck - sorry, snow room - ski room on the top deck. Snow room is another boat, next to the sauna." SeaXplorer is one such example - this isn't a boat just for the Riviera, it's designed for the Arctic too... and adventure. And the owners are changing - not so many from emerging markets - instead more from the U.S.. For the superyacht maker the changing global economy has its own challenges. Rising labour costs is one, says Peter Lurssen from Lurssen Yachts. SOUNDBITE: Lurssen Yachts owner, Peter Lurssen, saying (English): "It's a cost increase which is difficult to explain because inflation is low, but inflation, the factor that made the inflation stay low doesn't impact us very much." The Azzam is still the best boat on the water, according to the superyachts.com Top 100. In the next two years experts estimate up to 15 new yachts could be added to the list. Some will carry crews of up to 80. Charlie Birkett is from luxury yacht company Y.Co. SOUNDBITE: Y.Co Co-founder, Charlie Birkett, saying (English): "If we consistently produce and deliver yachts of this size, for years to come, this industry is going to grow and evolve into something quite spectacular, more than it is today." That will mean more of these on the seas - at nearly 200 million euros, it's a steal.