x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Best F1 view? That'll be Dh237,000

Boat owners wanting to watch the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix are being asked to pay more than Dh237,000 to berth at Yas Island.

Most of the 143 berths at Yas Marina have already been booked for the Grand Prix.
Most of the 143 berths at Yas Marina have already been booked for the Grand Prix.

ABU DHABI // It is one of the most expensive parking spaces in the world, and after one week your money runs out. But if you can afford a 120m superyacht, paying more than Dh237,000 (US$64,000) to moor a vessel at Yas Marina during the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be like putting some small change in the meter for the rest of us.

And, so far, demand for berths has been so great that most of the 143 spots on offer for vessels of all sizes have already gone. The clamour from around the world has caused the marina's developer, Aldar Marinas, to look at increasing its capacity. During the race the area is expected to carry 5,000 visitors. "Approximately five per cent of vessels that have applied for berths are internationally flagged, mainly with a European base," said an Aldar spokesman.

"We are also in communication with a significant number of additional international vessels, which are currently planning, but yet to finalise, their winter season routes." The smallest berth at Yas is 15m and costs Dh14,850 for the week of the Formula One event, which culminates in the race on November 1. A 25m spot will cost fans Dh29,700 while a 50m berth is Dh99,000. For boats in the superyacht class, which need to park in spaces 120m and up, fees start at Dh237,000.

With the additional attraction of the F1 event, the increased awareness of Abu Dhabi and the facilities that Yas Marina provides, such as the Yas Marina Hotel and the yacht club, many luxury boat owners from Europe were considering the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean as a "much more realistic and attractive winter destination", Aldar said. Paul Lane, the project director for Aldar Marinas, believes the trackside marina should put Yas among the most prestigious of all waterfront circuits.

"The F1 race is going to be very special, certainly comparable to Monaco, and it even goes beyond that," he said. "The biggest difference is that we here have a custom-built marina and a custom-built F1 track. "Monaco is a historic race with real tradition, but we have a perfect marina with a perfect track." Berths at Monaco marina during its Grand Prix are more than twice the price: Dh65,000 for boats up to 25m, Dh189,000 for up to 50m and Dh525,000 for the largest vessels, which go up to 150m.

However, getting a spot at Monaco often relies more on connections than the ability to pay. Yas Marina will conduct a low-key opening a month ahead of the race. Berths are being rented out for the whole Grand Prix week only, although shorter stays will be available once the race is over and boat owners will also be able to purchase a year-long stay. Abu Dhabi is desperately short of marina space. There are just four marinas currently operating in the city - Wagih Mansour in the Tourist Club area, Al Bateen, the Intercontinental hotel and Port Zayed.

Justin Warby, who owns a 10m boat moored at the port, pays Dh24,000 a year for his berth. He said: "Yas Marina are definitely targeting bigger boats. For the smallest 15m berth you are paying around Dh4,600 per metre per annum, so they are very expensive. Abu Dhabi needs heaps more marina space." mswan@thenational.ae