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20 for '22: Ones to watch in APAC during 2022

author icon By APB Staff | 10 January 2022

As the luxury yacht industry continues to boom, and stakeholders react to shifting demands and unpredictable supply chains, 2022 is set to be a year filled with both surprises and successes across Asia-Pacific. We pick 20 dynamic people making things happen in APAC’s yachting industry this year. Meet our “20 for ’22” below:

Paul Whelan, country manager, Simpson Marine, Indonesia

Paul Whelan’s groundbreaking efforts have put him at the forefront of Indonesia’s burgeoning yacht market. He thinks the country, replete with undisturbed beaches and crystal-clear waters, has enormous growth potential. Under Whelan’s watch, Simpson Marine has offered an extensive variety of yachts within the Indonesian market, contributing to a ballooning of the company’s clientele. He points out that Lagoons have been particularly popular, and that flybridge motor yachts such as Sanlorenzo are also piquing customers’ interest.

Whelan is planning a number of boating activities for this year, such as a Lagoon Rendezvous and a fishing tournament. His endeavours have been aided by a supportive Indonesian government, which has facilitated a plethora of projects across the archipelago, such as the redevelopment of Labuan Bajo: the gateway to Komodo National Park.

Paul Whelan has led the way in growing an emerging market. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on him in 2022.

Bart Kimman, director, Yacht Strategies, Hong Kong

Bart KimmanHong Kong yacht industry veteran Bart Kimman may have finally cracked the code to opening new, legal moorings in the SAR.

For decades, Hong Kong has had a chronic shortage of moorings and berths for yachts. Kimman, who previously worked at Camper & Nicholsons’ Hong Kong office, announced in the summer of 2021 that he planned to open 600 mooring spaces in Hei Ling Chau typhoon shelter through his new firm, Delta Marina, and that he would open a service station in the shelter and provide a high-speed water ferry service from Aberdeen and Central to the shelter.

The water taxi, built by Kingship, then entered the water later that year. We are eagerly awaiting news on developments at Hei Ling Chau with Delta Marina. Given the popularity of this story, plenty of other yacht owners in Hong Kong are also anticipating updates. Bart Kimman, as a man who may finally be providing much-needed berthing spaces in Hong Kong at long last, is definitely one to watch in 2022.

Nigel Beatty, chairman of Asia-Pacific Superyacht Association (APSA), Japan; owner, Super Yacht Logistics

Nigel BeattyNigel Beatty, current chairman of the Asia-Pacific Superyacht Association, has been based in Japan and the USA after years being a captain in the US, Caribbean, the Med and Asia. He founded Super Yacht Logistics (SYL) and four other yacht companies in Florida, with extra SYL companies in Japan, Australia, and UK. His years of insight in the superyacht industry has lent extra experience to his position at APSA.

Beatty and his associate at SYL Japan, Kenta Inaba, recently announced a major update to regulations governing foreign-flagged superyacht visits to Japan. With more superyachts likely to visit Japan in the years to come, expect to see Beatty in the headlines more in 2022.

Now as an associate of Yachtzoo (international superyacht brokerage) he spends his time between Monaco and Tokyo. Beatty feels that “APSA’s unique position in the superyacht industry obliges us to push forward responsibly and sustainably whilst promoting business growth, starting with signing the Water Revolution Foundation Code of Conduct in Monaco in 2021.”

Charlotte Ho, director, hospitality, marketing & membership, Lantau Yacht Club, Hong Kong

Charlotte HoSince Lantau Yacht Club’s launch in 2019, Charlotte Ho has overseen branding, sales and marketing strategy for this award-winning club. Lantau Yacht Club (LYC) has made a point of appealing to superyacht owners, with 38 berths for yachts of 30m and above and a high-end environment. She introduced a membership scheme (for Hong Kong) – with no debenture and fixed terms for 10 years – and in 2021, she helped launch a “Yachtcation” package that’s been well-received by local owners.

Adam Waters, general manager for Princess Yachts Greater China, says Ho has been instrumental in liaising with the community. “Charlotte has been proactive and helpful in welcoming our Princess Yacht owners as new members, and has been successful in engaging the industry for events and partnerships at the marina.”

Tresno Seery, director, Silolona Sojourns, Indonesia

Tresno Seery, son of the late Patti Seery, founder of Silolona Sojourns, has inherited one of the best-known phinisi yachts in Southeast Asia. Patti left a legacy focused on cultural and marine conservation, with her flagship Silolona leading the way.

Tresno was born in West Java and studied naval architecture in the US. He confirmed to Asia-Pacific Boating last year that he will continue what his mother started in 022.

“There was never any question that I would carry on the legacy my mother built,” Tresno says. “All of Patti’s vision is still very much on the cards, including the building of bigger ships and new destinations (in Indonesia). Of course, with Covid-19, these have been put on pause, but they remain very much on the cards.”

Lawrence Chow, project manager, China Pacific Marine Dealership; chair of the Hong Kong Boating Industry Association, Hong Kong

Lawrence ChowAt China Pacific Marine, Chow represents Jeanneau, Riviera, Fountaine Pajot, Boston Whaler, Hurricane Tender and Sunstream Boat Lifts in Hong Kong and Macau. As chairman of the Hong Kong Boating Industry Association (HKBIA) he represents the industry in Hong Kong and around the world. Chow is also on the International Council of the Marine Industry Associations’ executive committee.

“The HKBIA has been planning a boat show at Lantau Yacht Club in Hong Kong since the start of the 2021,” says Chow. “Due to the uncertainties of Omicron, the dates of the show will be announced later. We believe an industry-led show will spotlight the positive impact that boating has on our economy and community in Hong Kong.” Chow also reports strong boat sales throughout 2021, and says he expects this to continue in 2022.

Frank Hsu, GM of Frank Yachts, official Azimut dealer, Guangdong China Area, Shenzhen, China

Frank Hsu“Frank is a great addition to our Azimut Yachts team in Asia, his enthusiasm is infectious and he is a pleasure to work with,” says Paul Grange, C.O.O., Marine Italia – the Azimut dealer for Hong Kong, Macau, Southern China, Taiwan and Singapore. Frank is GM of Franks Yachts, official Azimut dealer, Guangdong China area, Shenzhen, China.

“From day one he was steadily investing in the business and growing his team – he recently doubled the size of his Azimut Yachts showroom in Shenzhen Bay. Establishing excellent connections in Guangdong area communities, Frank’s Azimut Yacht sales are growing year on year with 2022 set to be his best to date. The arrival of three new Azimut Flybridge models – the 53, 68 and 78 – are confirmed for Shenzhen. Frank has plans to continue to expand his business, with which he has our full support. He is a great brand ambassador for Azimut Yachts in China.”

Evita Sham, customer relations manager, Pacific Leisure Boat, Hong Kong

Evita ShamSince joining Pacific Leisure Boat (the sister brand of Princess Yachts Greater China) in early 2021 as customer relations manager, Sham is steadily growing the small boat and accessories business. The dealer’s brands include Radinn Jetboards and Ecoworks marine cleaning products, alongside dynamic new Finnish boat brand Saxdor Yachts – recently delivering the first Saxdor 200 and 320 models to the region.

Sham is passionate about the sea and is a keen wakesurfer herself. Also holding a Hong Kong pleasure vessel grade II licence, she uses these skills to help her clients learn how to use their Radinn boards and gives insightful demonstrations of Saxdor Yachts to potential owners. Sham says her favourite aspect of her role is “helping customers find something they love and that brings them joy – this inspires me to do better and provide the best experience for them.”

Tee Tzer-Yu, co-founder, Amal Yachting, Taipei, Taiwan

Tee Tzer-YuNaval architect Tee Tzer-Yu co-founded Amal Yachting in 2014 and developed it into one of Taiwan’s leading yacht dealers, representing brands such as Absolute, Axopar, Delta and Leopard. In 2019, Amal became Ferretti Group exclusive dealer in Taiwan for Ferretti Yachts, Pershing and Riva.

“Taiwanese yacht owners care a lot about living spaces on a boat; hence speedy yachts like Pershings have not aroused much interest yet,” says Tee. “Nevertheless, we believe when the market becomes more mature, there will be a number of inquiries for [sporty] brands.”

And looking forward, he sees the potential for another Ferretti Group brand in the region. “Japan is a popular destination for Taiwanese yacht owners; hence Custom Line’s large, adaptable spaces, extraordinary performance and contemporary design appeals to the Taiwanese market.” Adamant that yacht sales “should not be limited to a one-day transaction”, Tee says he is focused on “offering the best products, experiences, after-sales and customer services such as captain and crew sourcing.”

Erwan Her, sales director Asia-Pacific, Beneteau Yachts, Beneteau Group office manager, Hong Kong

Erwan Her“The reputation of the Beneteau Group and brand is famous worldwide,” says Erwan Her, who – in 2021 – took up dual roles as sales director for Beneteau in APAC and the Beneteau Group APAC Office Manager.

“Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore are the biggest markets, but our yachts sales are all over Asia,” he continues. “Together with our dealers, we constantly look for new ways to entertain our clients. Across Group brands, during the pandemic, we created Boating Rendezvous events to showcase yachts in private and safe environments in the APAC region.”

Her and his team are also extending sailing in places where it’s less common, including Thailand and the Philippines. “Our local partners have sailing schools with our First range – to introduce new ways to enjoy water activities,” he says. “We also held the Beneteau Cup in Hong Kong – a very big success last year. We are already working on the second edition with [dealership] Simpson Marine, planned for May 2022.” Her says it’s a very busy year for Beneteau, as the brand will also be launching a number of boats. “Of the new models, we are very excited to launch the First 36, which the sailing community has been waiting for.”

Martin Lo, director, CL Yachts, Hong Kong

Martin LoProactive and forward-thinking, Lo helmed the launch of CL Yachts in 2018, offering series-production yachts ranging from 50-100ft (15.2-30.5m) to a new generation of yachting enthusiasts. Driven by his passion for crafting extraordinary yachts, he teamed up with international designer Jozeph Forakis, marine structural engineer Albert Horsmon and naval architect Earl Alfaro to create a revolutionary new Sea Activity Vessel, the CLX96, “challenging the traditional concept of a motoryacht and elevating it to realms of uncharted luxury”.

Lo’s bold and holistic approach resonated with clients seeking a luxury on-water lifestyle. He outlined a plan for expanding his product portfolio to target different segments, from family-oriented owners to adventure seekers. “Each vessel exemplifies CL Yachts’ core values of innovative design, cutting-edge technology, seaworthiness, and exceptional craftsmanship, all aimed to redefine the luxury yachting experience,” he says. “Moving forward, CL Yachts will further develop its global sales network in strategic markets.”

Charles Massey, head, Sevenstar Yacht Transport – Hong Kong

Charles MasseyAs a yacht transport specialist with Sevenstar, Charles Massey has been behind most of the large yacht deliveries in Asia over the last eight years. He says 2021 was a “very busy but challenging” year for Sevenstar, as the pandemic has caused a surge in volumes of cargo to be transported. This has overwhelmed existing infrastructure, creating difficulties for the shipping industry worldwide. “At Sevenstar we have been working hard to find solutions to keep up with the booming demand in Asia for new yachts. Grouping together shipments and using different routes help. The size of yachts shipping to Asia is growing fast,” he says.

Bigger yachts need bigger transport to match. In December 2021, Sevenstar’s sister company DYT Yacht Transport launched a newbuild from Yantai Shipyard in China. The 213m, semi-submersible Yacht Servant has 30 per cent more deck space than her sister ships, and will sail on a liner service in 2022 and beyond. We’ve got our eyes peeled for her appearance in Asia.

Vivian Chan, director, VP Yachts, Hong Kong

Vivian ChanIt’s been a busy time for Vivian Chan since launching her own dealership, VP Yachts, last year. If that were not enough, she is also in charge of her family’s 40-year-old maintenance operation at Sun Hing Shipyard, in Hong Kong’s Aberdeen district. “I was in Canada but came back to help run this with my father 10 years ago,” she says. “Then, as he wanted to retire, I became the general manager a couple of years ago.”

It’s the stellar reputation of the yard, which Chan made much tidier on the eye since she arrived, that backed the confidence of the three yachts that she sold in one calendar year since November 2020. VP Yachts became the Hong Kong dealership for Sessa after selling that first Fly 68 Gullwing – with Chan then going on to sell one each of the Fly 47 and Cruiser Line C38.

Matthew Keay, general manager, Marine Service Asia, Hong Kong

Matthew KeayRelocating to Hong Kong from New Zealand seven years ago, Keay worked as a specialist manager in the marine and electrical engineering areas, taking up his current position last year. “Since then, I have worked with many of the major brands and builders, being involved in everything from the design and build process, to the maintenance and upgrade of luxury vessels throughout the region,” he says. “I’m very happy with my new role and excited to deliver our promise of offering industry-leading yacht services at Marine Service Asia.

The increase in vessel sales through the pandemic has introduced customers who are new to the space, who rightly expect a modern and professional approach to handling maintenance and technical services.” Keay has implemented new initiatives, such as a package that handles all aspects of preventive maintenance and system services supported by in-house technical management, allowing clients worry-free time on the water.

Nicolas Monges, managing director, Asia Global Yachting, Indonesia

Nicolas MongesNicolas Monges is co-founder of Asia Global Yachting, which has offices in Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore. Asia Global Yachting (AGY) is also the first dealership and charter company operating in Southeast Asia to accept cryptocurrency payments. Cryptocurrencies have elicited every possible response from buyers, sellers, bankers and governing officials. Bitcoin has been around since 2009, and if you bought some then, you could probably buy a yacht now. The average age of a cryptocurrency investor is 38, compared to the average age of a stock market investor, which is 47. So are Monges and his partner, Xavier Fabre, onto something?

AGY is currently the exclusive dealer for Ferretti Yachts and Pershing in Indonesia, and Nuova Jolly, an Italian brand of fast open yachts, in Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore. AGY is also the central charter agent for yachts such as Maha Bhetra, Harmony, Tiger Lily and The Maj Oceanic in Indonesia.

The big question now: will crypto be the story of the year in 2022? Monges is betting on it. Don’t be surprised if others follow.

Danny Tao, CEO, ePropulsion, China

Danny TaoDanny Tao is part of the vanguard of new boating entrepreneurs that are remaking the business. Tao is CEO and co-founder of ePropulsion, the China-based startup that builds all-electric outboard motors. Electric outboards and all-electric yachts are the hot new trend, joining the move to electrify the automotive industry. Sales are rising thanks to the growing green trend in boating and regulations governing boat emissions in lakes.

Tao founded ePropulsion in 2012 at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and the company now has its production and headquarters in China. The company recently announced that its new R&D centre would be based in Hong Kong. In a report by Asia-Pacific Boating, the company said it is in discussions with yacht builders to provide a new range of electric motors. In December, ePropulsion expanded its Asia network with two new distributors: Badaro Yacht Co in South Korea, and Motorium, based in Phuket. We will be paying close attention to Danny Tao and his next triumphs in 2022.

Gordon Hui, senior broker, Hong Kong

Gordon Hui“It’s been very exciting for my joint venture between VMA [Victoria Marine Asia] and Camper & Nicholsons, which started in June 2021,” says Hui, a prominent figure in the world of luxury motor yachts in Hong Kong. Since parting company with Sunseeker, Hui has become an independent broker.

“Since the summer of 2020 I have met with many top brands and their Asia distributors, discovering new product ranges with fantastic designs. Ferretti Group’s Riva, Ferretti Yachts, Wally and Pershing, as well as some from Sanlorenzo in Italy, and also the amazing new range from Princess, UK: all impress,” he says.

“These brands seem to be dominating the Asia market. In entry-level boating, great for many families, I have come across my favourite Galeon range – their 325 to 500 range with balconies and luxury options – turning a manageable size boat into a very spacious floating platform, similar to already-popular Lagoon catamarans. In larger custom yachts, fantastic designs and successful sales come from Benetti and Ferretti Group Custom Line, CRN; and Sanlorenzo – from Italy. Hopefully, we’ll get to see some sales from Dutch shipyards, like Heesen.”

Godfrey Zwygart, managing director at Marevisio Co. Ltd, Sanya, China

Godfrey ZwygartGodfrey Zwygart has been a key figure in the Chinese yachting industry and its development for nearly two decades. Now, he is helping to develop the yacht industry out of Hainan, which suffered a false start in the aughts. He was the marina manager for Serenity Marina, Sanya, and he continues as a consultant. Regulations and taxes have made life difficult, but Zwygart says big things are happening among a new generation of young people in the sport boat and small yacht segment.

“The latest craze, wakesurfing, has proven super popular with the younger crowds and with ladies. Two years ago, only two boats were providing this service here, and now there are over 80 boats doing so in Sanya only,” Zwygart says.

He adds that the laws need to be clearer for larger yachts before progress is made. Zwygart, who set up a consultancy firm early last year, also reports that he is working on training courses for superyacht crews in China. Whether the new craze for on-water action among China’s younger clientele continues after Covid remains to be seen. No doubt, Zwygart will be pushing authorities to keep riding the wave.

Frankie Chau, co-founder and MD, Nextwave, Hong Kong

Frankie Chau

It was a big year for Chau and the expanding brokerage and yachting services on offer at Nextwave. In 2021, the company launched a showroom for Sunseeker yachts – which it began distributing in Hong Kong – in the glamorous locale of Repulse Bay.

“This visible location has LED displays covering three walls to create a 3D experience like walking onto a Sunseeker yacht,” Chau explains, “while having onboard fabrics and materials that we can show people.” Nextwave’s charter team has an upgraded fleet and now focuses on guest experience – specifically on tailor-made beach and dining packages – where 10 staff serve up to 20 guests. The water toys team, noticing a big trend in foiling and electric power, added more of these options.

Nextwave’s yacht management team launched an office in January 2022 at Lantau Yacht Club, which Chau says is “a great solution for those with yachts there.” This year also heralds a new shipyard in Hong Kong, to show Sunseeker yachts, Chau says, starting with a Manhattan 68 Pacific Edition – and an owners’ club.

Laura Verbrugge, charter broker, Asiamarine, Hong Kong

Laura Verbrugge

Originally from France, Laura Verbrugge, charter broker manager for Hong Kong’s Asiamarine, had sailing experience around the Mediterranean before joining Fraser Yachts in Hong Kong in 2018, and then Asiamarine. An enviable part of Verbrugge’s research has been travelling on charters around the world to develop her finely-tuned knowledge of the best yachts available for rental – as well scouting unique destinations for cruising.

Starting with a fleet of two luxury yachts in Hong Kong, she is now in charge of 15 yachts, available in Hong Kong and in Thailand. Verbrugge is most satisfied when she can organise a unique, memorable moment for a client – many express appreciations. Given the speed at which she has built up her book, and the demand for chartering in Hong Kong, expect to see more of Verbrugge dockside.