The global superyacht industry started 2020 very well, with a high level of sales. However the Covid-19 pandemic hit the industry severely in the second quarter of the year. Afterwards, superyacht sales recovered rapidly, with the used yacht market in particular posting very impressive results in the third and fourth quarters of 2020. The positive momentum in the superyacht market has carried on into 2021 and we are expecting a very busy year in 2021 for superyacht sales, both new and used.
The global fleet over 30 metres in length consisted of 5,245 superyachts in operation at the start of 2021. In addition, there are also around 84 superyachts out of service, while about 195 superyachts have been completely lost since 1945. 84% of the global fleet consists of motor yachts and 16% of sailing yachts. In 2020, 150 superyachts were completed. This is slightly less than 2019 when 158 superyachts were completed.
In 2021, the number of completions is expected to rise as yachts delayed from 2020 are completed, in addition to those already planned for 2021. We have made a conservative estimate of 170 completions for 2021, though it could end up higher as the backlog of yachts planned for a 2021 completion is considerable.
At the start of 2021, there were 502 superyachts in the construction book, which is a decrease of eight yachts compared to the year before. The number of yachts actively in-build decreased by four units to 454, while the number of on-hold projects deemed worthy of inclusion in the construction book also decreased by four units, to 48.
Out of the 502 superyachts in the construction book, 175 are available for sale, which represents 35% of the construction book. Out of the 175 available superyachts, 153 are being built on speculation and 22 are offered for sale by their owners. Out of the 5,245 superyachts in the fleet, 1,295 are available for sale, which represents 25% of the total fleet. The number of new superyacht sales declined by 17% in 2020 compared to 2019. Sales of new-builds that were started on speculation declined by 20%, while sales of bespoke new-build projects declined by only 7%. Sales of new yachts between 30 and 40 metres showed a sharp decline at 20%, while sales of new yachts between 40 and 50 metres went down by 14%. Sales of new yachts between 50 and 60 metres increased slightly, while sales of new yachts between 60 and 80 metres in 2020 were down by 45% after the extremely good result of 20 sales in 2019. Finally, sales of very large new yachts over 80 metres were slightly up compared to 2019.
The used superyacht sales market performed well in 2020, with 301 sales recorded for this year, versus 280 sales in 2019. The average volume of used yachts sold in 2020 decreased from 424GT in 2019 to 389GT in 2020. Average final asking prices per GT for sold used yachts went down slightly, from €28,149 per GT in 2019 to €27,549 per GT in 2020.
In the last 10 years, 332 shipyards have delivered one or more superyachts or are currently building a superyacht. Of these 332 shipyards, 247 are still active today and out of these, 130 shipyards are currently building one or more superyachts. 26% of the shipyards are based in Turkey, even though they have only built an average of 2.1 yachts per shipyard over the past 10 years. In comparison, 20% of the shipyards are based in Italy and they have built on average 11 yachts per shipyard in the past 10 years. British shipyards have been the most productive, with an average output of 19.6 yachts per yard during the last 10 years. A total of 35 shipyards are currently in the process of building their first superyacht. Very large yachts are only built by a select few shipyards. Currently, there are only 20 yards building yachts over 80 metres and only 11 shipyards are building yachts with a volume of more than 3,000 GT.
We recorded 1,416 refit yard visits by yachts over 30 metres globally in 2020, compared to 1,334 in the preceding year. US yards are the most popular refit destinations, having attracted 25% of all recorded yard visits over this two-year period. The refit yard visits in the United States were handled by 21 different shipyard facilities. Italian yards handled 21% of the refit yard visits, but did this with 35 different facilities, making it the country with the most refit facilities. The Netherlands recorded a sharp rise in the number of active refit facilities in 2020, growing to 22 from 15 in the year before. Italy and Spain handled the highest number of large yachts over 60 metres, while Italy is also leading in the 40-60 metre category. Meanwhile, the United States was leading in the 30-40 metre category.
Clients from the United States own the largest share of superyachts over 40 metres, at 23% of the total fleet. Russian owners come in second, with 9% of the fleet, followed by Greece and the United Kingdom (both 6%) and Italy (5%). Clients from the United States have purchased the most new-build yachts over 40 metres in the past 10 years, having acquired 17% of all of these yachts, followed closely by clients from Russia, who come in at 16%. Purely looking at the sold yachts over 40 metres under construction today, 19% are being built for clients from the United States and 14% for Russian clients. China, Brazil, Israel and Qatar have joined the ranks of top new-build buyers, while Australia, Canada, Greece and Saudi Arabia have dropped out of the list for now.
A special chapter, contributed by the Water Revolution Foundation, examines the various types of main engines installed across the superyacht fleet over 30 metres. The motivation for the research is the significant environmental impact of the main engine on the ecological footprint of a superyacht over its economic lifetime.
The research concludes that the most popular main engine brands for superyachts are MTU and Caterpillar. For sailing yachts, there is a much greater diversity of engine brands. The most popular engine overall is the MTU 16V 2000 M94. The researchers note that the number of different engine brands has gone down over the past five years. It is also noted that, over time, the installed engine power per gross ton (a measure of the interior volume of the yacht) has gone down, signalling possible improvements in design and technology.
With thanks to SuperYacht Times for making this comprehensive report free this year.
Download and read the full report: The State of Yachting 2021