It was billed as the biggest Monaco Yacht Show ever with an unprecedented number of superyachts lined up side by side in Monte Carlo’s Port Hercules against the backdrop of the quasi-fairytale Prince’s Palace. But at the end of the day, how much does size really matter, and isn’t it ‘quality not quantity’ that wins hands down in more cases than not?
To me, wandering around the vast swathes of bright blue carpet lining T Central and Quai des Etats-Unis, garish white pavilions flapping in the wind, it certainly felt that way. It took me almost a day to get round the 24th edition of the Monaco Yacht Show. When I eventually sat down and took the weight off my weary feet, I felt strangely unfulfilled.
Sure, it had been fun. I picked up enough freebie USB keys to start my own IT shop, not to mention the impressive tower of panama hats of varying colors tucked under my arm, but what had I really gained from my time at the MYS other than some quality tat and sore feet? Oh yes, and a slight hangover from the ridiculous number of happy hour drinks offered almost everywhere you looked, come …. mid-day!
There was none of this ‘save yourself til 6 p.m.’ business at the yacht show this year. A saunter through Darse Sud was for many like a pub crawl through Antibes, with bottles opening in every direction. This, and the abundance of music with a marvelous saxophonist being transported around in the back of a tender (my particular favourite), all added to the party atmosphere. And it suddenly dawned on me, perhaps later than most, that the MYS is just one big junket for the yachting industry – one four day party to round off the Mediterranean season before everyone gets on it again in the Caribbean.
Undoubtedly the hike in ticket prices from 80 euro to 150 apiece played its part in ensuring that the show caters much more to a b2b audience than a b2c clientele. Word on the street – or the pontoons in this case – was that the huge increase in the entry price had severely curtailed the number of visitors to the show. And to be honest, no one can be surprised.
Also noticeable in their absence were visitors from Russia, who were, up until a few months ago, a driving force in the market for the world’s biggest superyachts. With economic sanctions now in place, many Russians are feeling the pinch, and the isolation. I heard many tales of crews and captains being left in awkward positions by Russian owners’ not being able to move money around, so their non-show at the MYS is again hardly a surprise.
But don’t get me wrong, the show ran more than smoothly and everyone looked as though they were having a ball. Prince Albert managed to dash back from the UN Climate Summit in New York to open the show, and the brand new Monaco Yacht Club looked splendid in the gorgeous September sun (although I am told the kitchen needs to sharpen up and lose the carrottes rapées from the menu).
My personal highlights included Lurssen’s Solandge and her exquisite hot tub, U-Boat Worx’s A C-Explorer 3 submarine which is just too cool even for Monaco, and Chopi Chopi, a somewhat bizarre name I feel for the 80m CRN mega yacht which won the ‘most achieved trophy’.
Rumors are that the 25th edition of the MYS next year will be even bigger. But will that necessarily mean better? Let’s wait and see. I am not, however, holding my breath.