x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Price cut fills berths at Yas Marina

From multimillion-dollar super-yachts owned by Indian tycoons to smaller sailing craft, Yas Marina is becoming a more popular option for those looking for a place to moor their boats.

Cut-price berths are helping to drive more yachts to Yas Marina, with the facility reporting that it has doubled its occupancy in the past six months. Above, the Indian Empress docked at the Yas Island Marina last week. Sammy Dallal / The National
Cut-price berths are helping to drive more yachts to Yas Marina, with the facility reporting that it has doubled its occupancy in the past six months. Above, the Indian Empress docked at the Yas Island Marina last week. Sammy Dallal / The National

From multimillion-dollar super-yachts owned by Indian tycoons to smaller sailing craft, Yas Marina is becoming a more popular option for those looking for a place to moor their boats.

Cut-price berths are helping to drive more yachts to Yas Marina, with the facility reporting that it has doubled its occupancy in the past six months.

At the end of last year, the marina, which is located alongside the track used for the Formula One race in the capital, slashed its rates in an effort to stimulate demand.

"For the last two months, we have signed 10 annual contracts a month," said Cedric Le Rest, the general manager of Yas Marina. "The fact that we dropped our rates is one of the main selling points."

The marina previously charged annual rates starting from Dh68,850 (US$18,744) for a 15 metre berth. But now its prices for a year start from Dh16,455 for an 8 metre boat, inclusive of a berth for the Formula One Grand Prix. Prices go up to Dh491,400 for a space that can accommodate a 120 metre yacht.

But the marina is still a considerable way from being full, with Mr Le Rest declining to say how many berths were now occupied.

A positive is that larger yachts are starting to spend the winter season in Abu Dhabi, which is focusing on the yachting sector as part of its tourism strategy.

"This is a good news, in terms of trend, that we're seeing more larger yachts spending the winter within Abu Dhabi," said Mr Le Rest.

One of these is the Indian Empress, a 95 metre yacht complete with a helipad and reported to be owned by the Indian business magnate Vijay Mallya, who is the chairman of Kingfisher Airlines and United Breweries Group.

The yacht sails all over the world, said Bruno Santos, its captain. It normally spends the summer in the Mediterranean and the winter in the Caribbean or India.

But this winter its owner has opted to keep the yacht in Abu Dhabi since the last Formula One Grand Prix in November, with plans to sail the yacht over to the Mediterranean for the summer.

But there is one major drawback to being based in the region, said Mr Santos: piracy in waters at the mouth of the Gulf .

"I receive a report of a pirate attack every day," he said. "As soon as we leave we have to be prepared to be attacked."

The largest vessel moored in Yas Marina is a $25 million yacht that measures 104 metres, owned by Oman's Ministry of Tourism.

Emirates Palace, meanwhile, has offered a third off the original price of its berths.

"A number of people are now seeing that there are different opportunities [for] where to keep their boats," said Toby Haws, the marina manager at Emirates Palace. "My occupancy has increased. We increase on average about one boat a week. There hasn't been a great increase in the amount of vessels entering Abu Dhabi. What it is is people are now seeing that they don't have to stay in their current marinas - that there is choice.

Yas Marina says the cheaper costs of berthing boats in the capital is creating more interest in buying vessels.

"We believe that the drop in prices is stimulating the market to buy boats - especially small boats," said Samer El Adem, the sales manger at Yas Marina.

rbundhun@thenational.ae

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