Two quite different items at the top of the newsletters that I receive each day made me burst out laughing yesterday.
The first conjures up a scene from the Disney’s first PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN.
Somali pirates attacked, unsuccessfully of course, a 160-metre (525-foot) French Navy ship.
The French vessel which turned out to be a command ship in the area predictably returned fire, ultimately capturing one of the two skiffs which had been engaged in the business of pirates.
If there was ever a case for market research this was it.
In the words of Norrington in the movie, “That is, without doubt, the worst pirate I've ever seen.”
But to be fair, it was dark and LA SOMME is a replenishment ship painted Navy grey with a silhouette more resembling a merchantman than a Man-of-War but talk about having a bad day…
Anyway one of the industries that seems to be thriving in the current uncertainty that characterizes most of the rest the superyacht industry is security and intelligence.
Indeed at Monaco, one friend I knew who was looking for a job in superyachts wore his Royal Marines colours over the three days and said he met almost everyone he’d ever served with. Of course, most of the reunions took place in the vicinity of security companies over the obligatory champagne and canapés.
While most of the world sees places like the Gulf of Aden, Somalia and the waters off Nigeria as typical high risk areas with rusty commercial vessels – and the odd French Man-of-War - the usual targets, superyachts have not missed the attention of the 21 Century’s sons of Blackbeard.
But as I always seem to find myself saying, the business of superyachts is different and that extends even to superyacht piracy.
But this of course this is superyachts, so no dusty Gulf of Aden or oily sea off Nigeria would do – this attack on the yacht occurred off the Mediterranean island of Corsica.
And these pirates had done their market research and SWOT analysis, at least the opportunities and threats. In the latter case, for the pirates there apparently were none.
The story goes that these masked pirates ordered TIARA’s Captain to empty the yacht’s safe, at gunpoint of course. Their raid took ten minutes, no one was hurt and when they sped off into the night the pirates apparently had more than $180,000 in cash from the safe, jewellery and artwork.
Call the underwriters.
The threat of piracy was also one reason for example that some thought the Informa Yacht Group
would never manage to get a critical mass of yachts to their first Abu Dhabi Yacht Show last March. But then, some superyacht industry experts also thought the marina there couldn’t be dredged in time either
, this despite the fact that over 50 per cent of the world’s dredging capacity was reportedly operating in the UAE at the time.
The Abu Dhabi show was a success of course and will be repeated in early 2010 – pirates or no pirates.
But that’s why most of the big players in the business of protecting superyachts are smiling every time you see them at all of the boat shows as they happily provide - to a market not known for its stinginess i.e. price sensitivity - everything from muscle – trained and not-so-trained (some have been known to jump over the side rather than protect their vessel), weapons, escort, intelligence - both historical and predictive and gadgets including sound-guns and mini-submarines.
“This is the day you will always remember as the day you almost caught Captain Jack Sparrow!”