The 2023 Palma International Boat Show (PIBS) and Palma Superyacht Village closed its latest edition on a high. Not only did attendance figures equal last year – some 32,000 visitors – but 96% of exhibitors interviewed also said they’d come back for more in 2024. Although the weather certainly played its role, with temperatures peaking at a tropical 31°C, organisers can rightly be proud of a job incredibly well done.This year 271 companies participated in the four-day event, occupying a total exhibition space of 81,000m². 600 boats were on display - 250 of them in the water - ranging from modest RIBs right up to 50-metre-plus megayachts in Palma Superyacht Village. Shipbuilders from across the world seized the chance to unveil brand new models, while matters of innovation, conservation and the environment were always front and centre.
Mallorca Bulletinwas in attendance to capture the mood amongst exhibitors.
Sunseeker Mallorca’s Andrew Thomas has notched up 19 years’ worth of Palma Boat Shows and therefore has plenty of yardsticks to draw upon: “It does seem to be a little quieter than last year but, with unseasonably warm weather and flat-calm seas, a chunk of people may have been out enjoying their existing boats rather than pounding the docks looking for new ones. Nonetheless, there is much positivity. People still want to buy boats and the prospects we had lined up to attend, all did just that. Global unrest is not helping when it comes to signing on the dotted line - after all a yacht is a substantial financial commitment – but there was good interest in all four of the yachts we had on display, not least the new Superhawk 55 which enjoyed her Mediterranean debut at the Show.”
Teddy Torkington was clocking up his seventh consecutive Palma International Boat Show with Multimar Alcudia. Representing three brands - Axopar, Karnic Powerboats and Grand Inflatable Boats - Teddy also sensed reduced footfall, but of a superior quality. “Thanks to a hot early start to the season and a resultant saturation of tourists, our charter and brokerage divisions are absolutely booming. The new boat market is going well – Axopars continue to sell like hot cakes - and availability is improving as production adjusts to the post-pandemic era. Even though they’re based in a warzone, Grand Inflatable Boats are constantly delivering new boats and on day one we sold a Grand 650 to a family from Madrid - the Ukrainian toughness of spirit is quite remarkable.”
Another Boat Show veteran, Guy Norrish from Marina Estrella, was promoting Azimut Yachts at a pivotal point in its history. In March of this year, Azimut Yachts’ 75-year-old founder Paolo Vitelli finally handed over the reins of his beloved Azimut Benetti Group to daughter, Giovanna. Backed by new minority investment from PIF, the Italian shipbuilder is now set for its next phase of growth.
“Azimut Benetti remains the only majority-family-owned superyacht business of its size and Giovanna is determined to carry on the ‘Made in Italy’ ethos - albeit with huge emphasis on innovation,” said Guy. “Azimut Yachts’ Seadeck is her latest major project, a series of low-emission hybrid yachts with interior design centred around natural or recycled materials. What the company refers to as ‘Hotel Mode’ is also getting plenty of attention, a system that allows noisy generators to be turned off at night without power interruptions. We can thank COVID-19 for some of these advances, as it afforded the space to make cohesive plans in an unrushed environment.”
Guy was enjoying good success among the Marina Estrella portfolio, selling several RYCK motorboats, at least one Hanse sailing yacht, and noting serious interest across the Nautor’s Swan range. He argued that this season was comparable to 2018/19, a step down from the artificially-inflated pandemic years, but nonetheless very strong. Higher interest rates, difficulties obtaining moorings, and a few lingering supply issues, were the only things holding the market back.
Across in Palma Superyacht Village, Sicily-born Sales Broker Giulio Riggio was there to represent various yachts on behalf of Fraser Yachts. Alongside Burgess Yachts, Camper & Nicholsons, Dahm International, Northrop & Johnson and Ocean Independence, Fraser Yachts was one of the ‘founding fathers’ of the inaugural Palma Superyacht Brokerage & Charter Show back in 2013. Giulio has attended each one since.
“Palma is not like Monaco,” said Giulio, “it’s small, friendly, easy-going, but with high-quality exhibitors and attendees. For example, 43-metre Flying Mantahas come all the way from Australia to present to the European market and it’s been worth the trip. We’ve hosted a number of serious viewings, including customers who came specially by private jet from England this morning.” Built in 2004 by Australia’s NQEA Yachts, Flying Manta has undergone several major refits, including the addition of a Lloyds-certified helideck with refuelling station. She is priced at 18 million euros.
Moonraker was also in Palma Superyacht Village promoting her charter itineraries and hosting evening soirées on behalf of Treviso-based Follador – producers of award-winning Prosecco for the last 250 years.
Built at Norship to a Frank Mulder design, the 36-metre was once ranked the fastest superyacht in the world. During sea trials in 1992, Moonraker nudged the speedo to 66.7 knots – truly absurd for a yacht of her size/weight. She held the record until 2004 when World Is Not Enough (in the same series of James Bond-inspired yachts) squeezed out 0.3 knots more.
Captain Toni has been at the helm since last July: “Moonraker is a true classic – more than 30 years old – and, although her engine configuration has changed since the record-breaking days, she’s still quite heavy on fuel consumption. For this reason, we’ve got a permanent berth in Alcudia so we can offer daytrips around Mallorca’s knockout north and northwest coastlines and take advantage of proximity to Menorca for longer three-day charters. Our summer schedule is already quite full, but it’s opportune to be at the Show to fill those last few slots.”
Sales Broker for Superyacht Partners, David Lunn, was onboard 2009-built Nadejda. He passionately extolled the Shipman 72’s virtues, not least the fact that she had been comprehensively upgraded - galley, deck, engine, generator, rig, sails, winches - effectively zero-ing her to new boat status, but without the typical teething problems. David said: “Nadejda is a clean boat, with VAT paid, and the price point is good considering the substantial cost of building an equivalent carbon-fibre boat today. We’ve had a lot of interest, including one chap who’s returned six or seven times throughout the Show - I’m confident we’ll see some offers.”
It transpired that David’s intimate knowledge of Nadejda came from the fact he used to captain her. His yachting career spanned more than two decades, culminating in the captaincy of 40-metre J Class Rainbow. It’s a similar story for several of his Superyacht Partners colleagues, also ex-captains, who bring far more to the table than just ‘sales’. They genuinely grasp the ownership experience and advise on refit, crew and charter, from a well-informed insider position – highly refreshing.
Finally, Scanner Spain celebrated a formidable 25 years in business at this year’s Show. Husband and wife duo John and Sabine opened their first shop in Santa Catalina in 1998 and attended their maiden Palma Boat Show in 1999 – they’ve been there ever since. This year the RIB specialists commanded an 80m² stand flanked by four moorings, one of them home to the Scanner ENVY 1200 which made its Show debut.
“The most commonly asked questions this year were: Do you have stock? Can you get a mooring? What’s the price? – in that order,” said Sabine. “The market is still recovering from a pandemic hangover, where supply chains were disrupted on a global level, and Mallorca continues to fall victim to its own popularity with a scarcity of berths. At least the former is well on its way to being resolved. As for whether we’re having a good Show, a small business like ours only needs to sell one boat and you can declare it to be a success.”
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