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Illuminati for the Glitterati

In these times of 500+ foot yachts with their auxiliary submarines, is there any additional flourish available to provoke genuine envy on the dock? Possibly. Florida’s Universal Light Designs LLC has found a colorful way to turn the neighbors green, and it’s a lot simpler than an on-deck helipad.

“Every major yacht-builder worldwide has at least one yacht with our technology on it,” says Marketing Director Chris Booth. The technology in question – waterproof backlit nameboards – is so simple it has others thinking, “why didn’t I think of that?”  Four years ago, Booth and co-director Thomas Grupe did just that.

“We did some research and found out that there’s an abundance of yachts being built, with 500-700 new builds in the 80ft + range every year. There were some 850-870 in 2008/9 and the big yacht manufacturers are booked full until 2012. It made sense to go into the yachting market with a small, niche project and do it right.” Both men threw themselves into a financial and lifestyle commitment. According to Booth, “We said, ‘Let’s be the number one prime quality, prime service and prime support product.” 

The aesthetically slick LED-powered Yachtsign® nameboards combine ½” thick acrylic glass backing with the front design in polished stainless steel, painted 3D plastics or 22k gold. The letters are corrosion and condensation-free, maintenance-free and waterproof to 100ft. They also come with a five-year worldwide warranty.

If you’ve spotted 174’ Aurora, 220’ Allure Shadow or 168’ Helios², then you’ll be familiar with Yachtsign®  work. Last year, the company did 180 projects in total, and some 125 up to June this year, meaning over 1,000 individual letters.

Not only does a backlit nameboard add a little extra panache to the transom or sides of a yacht, but the more recent introduction of multi-color, synchronized illumination allows the Captain to manipulate the mood on board. Within no time at all, a neon-hued nameboard will be de rigueur after sundown.

Could the trend trickle down to smaller yachts? Although the LED lights require very little power, Booth recognizes that the cost is the main barrier for now. “The high level of engineering comes with a price tag,” he says. However, he adds: “I actually once put nameboards on a 32’ pleasure cruiser. The guy spent $3,000 on it but, you know what, he made his wife happy and he made himself happy and they love it.”

For now, the target market is the 80-200ft yacht band, whether new builds or refits. While the effect is striking, the installation is simple. “When we started four years ago, we had this very crude backlit system that just had these two cables coming out and nowadays we have a very sophisticated waterproof system that comes with its own plug and play installation,” Booth explains. There is, however, no compromise on quality. “Not one of our competitors offers an IP-67 (100% waterproof down to 100ft) plug and play electric connection.”

The company provides worldwide internet and phone support for installation, and a network of affiliated technicians.

Look at the enormous network of businesses servicing the megayacht sector and a common theme emerges among the more successful ones – simplicity. For Yachtsign®’s lights, the future is bright.

Nick Marshall is an English journalist living on St. Maarten who was consultant editor of All At Sea from 2003 to 2005.

For more information:

Yachtsign®  is a trademark of:
Universal Light Designs LLC
25150 Bernwood Drive, Suite 3
Bonita Springs FL, 34135
Sales Phone / Fax 877.876.6789
Office/Support Phone: 239.992.8194
sales@yachtsign.com
www.yachtsign.com

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