Thursday, June 17, 2021

Superyacht sales buoyant as mega-wealthy seek Covid escape at sea

Most megayacht owners do not want or need to go near populations in peril on the land during the pandemic.

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The mega-wealthy are spending billions on superyachts in 2021 as they seek to escape Covid lockdowns and travel restrictions by taking to the sea for months on end.

Boat International Media, based in Wimbledon, London, said the surge is set to make this year the biggest yet in terms of second-hand sales.

But global charity Oxfam said it was “obscene” that such wealth was not spent on vaccines. For the cost of those superyachts, people desperate for Covid-19 shots in developing countries could be fully vaccinated, the British activists said.

The trend towards buying superyachts, which started last summer, is the “hottest sales streak on record”, according to Boat International.

The luxury-lifestyle magazine defines a superyacht as being longer than 24m and typically with a permanent crew.

These average superyachts – bigger ones can be up to 180m – usually cost up to US$6 million second-hand and have running costs of about US$250,000 per year for crew, mooring fees, and fuel.

They can be kitted out with spa pools, helicopter landing pads, gyms, or anything else the owners want.

The biggest second-hand yacht sold this year cost over US$75 million, but Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s superyacht is estimated to have cost about half a billion dollars.

The sales surge is being driven by extraordinarily wealthy people who want to get away from travel restrictions and covid-related lockdowns by sailing away in private luxury, the magazine said. Most megayacht owners do not want or need to go near populations in peril on the land during the pandemic.

Max Lawson, head of inequality policy at Oxfam International, said: “The £1 billion spent in the last year by billionaires on superyachts is more than the cost of fully vaccinating a country like Nepal, where Covid is inflicting a terrible toll.

“It is obscene – a sign of a world that has its priorities badly wrong – that with so much wealth around poor countries cannot get the vaccines they need to protect their people.”

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