The Caribbean’s peak charter season kicks off in the fall with charter yacht shows in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Antigua. Here’s a preview of what’s new at this year’s events.
Virgin Islands Charteryacht League Fall Yacht Show
A celebrated sailor, celebrity chef and 50s-themed celebration are what’s new at this 41st annual event, known as the smallest of the fall Caribbean charter yacht shows.
“Our size is actually highly beneficial,” says Virgin Islands Charteryacht League (VICL) executive director, Brianne Beatty, who expects 80 to 100 brokers from the U.S., Europe and the Caribbean and a fleet of 40 yachts to attend the 2015 show. “The atmosphere is relaxed, everyone is less rushed, and there’s ample time for brokers to visit aboard each yacht and get to know the crews.”
The VICL show’s niche is fully crewed monohulls and catamarans ranging from less than $10k per week to upwards of $50k and everything in between. The overwhelming majority of this year’s fleet is sailing yachts, specifically catamarans, with a couple of motor yachts expected. Beatty says she welcomes the idea of growing the show to include megayachts in the future, although November is a little early in the season for most yachts of this type to return to the Caribbean.
One captain attending is Captain Bill Pinkney aboard Lady Dee. Pinkney is the first black man to sail solo around the world by way of Cape Horn. Jennifer Carroll, who made it to the final four on the reality show Top Chef, will judge the culinary contest. Proceeds from the incredible raffle at the 50s Sailor theme party will benefit a military charity.
“This year means even more to the U.S. Virgin Islands with the amendment to the six-pack law that recently passed. We have an opportunity to level the playing field as far as the charter industry is concerned. What I would like to see is us work together and make the USVI the gateway to the BVI,” says Beatty.
November 5th-7th 2015, Yacht Haven Grande, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands: www.vicl.org
Charter Yacht Society (CYS) of the BVI Charter Yacht Show
Brokers, the selling force of crewed charter yacht vacations, appreciate seeing and getting to know crews as they participate in various events. To this end, organizers of this 34th annual show have newly added two social events. The Yacht Hop – Anything from A to Z, gives crews a chance to show their creative side by building a theme based on a letter of the alphabet. This year’s final dinner will be a Masquerade theme. No costumes required, just a mask.
“Luxurious yet affordable is what set’s our show apart,” says Janet Oliver, executive director of the CYS of the BVI. “The yachts at our show are not mega-yachts but the service provided by crew is still five-star and the accommodations luxurious.”
Oliver expects a full fleet of 70 to 75 yachts open for show and a broker contingent that should rival last year’s record of 125. There’s a trend towards more brokers from Europe. All brokers, she says, appreciate crews having as much on display as possible from charter linens, at least one table setting and available toys. In other words, they like to see the yachts as clean and tidy as these floating hotel rooms will appear when guests first arrive.
Charter yachts are big business in the BVI.
“Sixty-two percent of our visitors come to visit the BVI to go on a yacht. We have about 700 bareboats and over 100 crewed yachts. Our sector of 100 yachts contributes US $52 million to the VI economy. We are blessed with fabulous sailing grounds: gentle trade winds, topographic diversity from islands made of volcanic rock to limestone, vibrant dive sites, and an industry infrastructure in place which is world class,” says Oliver.
November 9th-12th 2015, Nanny Cay Resort and Marina, Tortola, British Virgin Islands: www.bvicrewedyachts.com
Antigua Charter Yacht Show
New boats, which have only been seen by a handful of brokers, are creating a buzz for this 54th annual show. Among these new-shows are St. David, a 197ft Benetti motor yacht, and Rox Star, a 130ft sailing yacht.
“We anticipate having our usual numbers of around 100 yachts,” says Sarah Sebastian, co-manager with Afsaneh Franklin. “They seem to be getting bigger each year, with more motor yachts signing up as well as the larger sailing yachts. We expect around 300 brokers, from as far as New Zealand, Australia, Bali, and countries in Europe, Turkey, Greece, Russia, Thailand, USA and Canada.”
What sets the Antigua show apart from its counterparts in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, aside from the size and number of yachts, is its venue. The show is spread over three large marinas each capable of docking 120-plus yachts. Without private boats in the way for these five days, it’s easy for brokers to easily visit all yachts. Plus, all the accommodations in the area are reserved for show attendees creating a networking paradise.
“The Antigua Charter Yacht Show kick starts the Antigua yachting season very nicely for all businesses in the area and brings in untold revenue to this sector,” says Sebastian.
December 4th-10th 2015, Nelson’s Dockyard Marina, Falmouth Harbour Marina & Antigua Yacht Club Marina: www.antiguayachtshow.com
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.