FLIBS20: U.S. summer busy as COVID kept yachts close

Oct 31, 2020 by Lucy Chabot Reed

During its annual meeting yesterday during the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the U.S. Superyacht Association shared data and reports that showed U.S. destinations had a record year.

Bert Fowles, co-chair of the USSA’s marketing committee, analyzed AIS data over the past six months of the global yacht fleet of roughly 5,000 yachts over 80 feet.

In March 2020, AIS recorded 1,168 vessels in the U.S.; by October, it was 1,254.

In March, 2,382 vessels were in the Med; by October, it was 2,713

In March, 319 vessels were in the Caribbean; by October, it was 88.

In March, about 6% of the fleet had moved between regions, a number Fowles said was normal for that time of year. In April, it was fewer than 1%. In May, June and July, practically no vessels moved. In August and September, slightly more than 1% moved. And in October, it was less than 1%.

Since yachts didn’t cross the Atlantic or even the Gulf Stream, some USSA members reported having what might be their strongest summers ever.

“We had about a six-week delay in the season start, but by mid-July, we were in full swing,” said Eli Dana of Safe Harbor Newport Shipyard. “We had more boats over 60m this summer than we’ve ever had before.”

Maine saw 300-foot yachts “in every bay” this summer, and the Chesapeake reported perhaps its busiest yachting summer ever.

“Since June, we’ve had boats 40-70m,” said Dan Cowens, CEO of Oasis Marinas. “That’s more than we’ve ever seen. … The average stay for a large yacht in one of our marinas is normally a couple days. This time, it was more than four weeks. … And there were more large vessels in the Potomac than I’ve ever seen.”

In addition to a wrap up of association activities over the past year, the USSA also honored four industry leaders for their participation, contribution, and leadership.

The Chairman’s Award was given posthumously to Herman Pundt, who most recently was charter director at Denison Yachting and served as co-chair of USSA’s advocacy committee. He passed away Sept. 16 after a year-long battle with brain cancer.

The Golden Compass Award was given posthumously to Bob Roscioli, owner of Roscioli Yachting Center. Given to those who help steer the industry in the “true” direction, Mr. Roscioli was a mentor in both yachting and business to many. He passed away July 27.

The Beacon Award, given to those who shine a light and make a difference in the industry, was given to Jonathan Rothberg, owner of the 180-foot Amels M/Y Gene Machine and a scientist who contributed to next generation DNA sequencing. He and his companies have devoted resources to developing an at-home, fast COVID test. Much of the work for the test was performed in the lab on his yacht. 

The USSA created a new award this year in conjunction with Young Professionals in Yachting, the YPY Leadership Award. It was given to Katie Hagen, COO of FHG Marine Engineering in Fort Lauderdale.

Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher/editor of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.

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About Lucy Chabot Reed

Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher and founding editor of The Triton.

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