— February 2005
By Kim Kavin
|At nearly 230 feet, Sherakhan is the latest attempt to fill the charter market’s high-capacity hole.|
About four years ago, a client booked the 124-foot Jaguar for a tandem charter alongside the 202-foot Esmeralda. The client needed lots of staterooms for a bevy of friends, and Esmeralda’s 22-guest capacity added nicely to the six cabins aboard the “regular-size” yacht.
It was a tricky arrangement, as tandem charters are. “Boats differ, speeds differ,” explains Tom DeBuse, who handles charter management for the Monaco office of Camper & Nicholsons International. “You can’t get everyone at the same dining table. You often have clients who feel that they are being put into the smaller boat, or the ‘tender,’ if it’s a budget question on the second boat. You’re being continuously divided.”
Jan Verkerk was thinking the same thing as the Jaguar-Esmeralda charter came to an end. The 45-year-old, who has owned Jaguar since 1998, called his 32-year-old partner, Claudia Ryntjes. He told her he felt there should be more charter yachts available for bigger groups that didn’t want to do tandem bookings, that he saw a hole in the top end of the marketplace. Ryntjes, long the point person for business aboard the popular Jaguar, agreed instantly.
And so as you read this, their new yacht, a 230-foot converted Dutch education vessel now called Sherakhan, is entering the charter market. She occupies a position at the forefront of an emerging trend in high-capacity charter yachts, for which demand is at an all-time high. “You’ve got the corporate factor, the large-family factor,” DeBuse says. “There’s the huge Russian-party factor, plus the Saudi Arabians who come with all their entourage. In the past it hasn’t been a problem to do tandem charters, but this makes it easier.”
There are many large yachts available on the world’s waters, to be sure, but many of them offer charter for no more than 12 guests because of classification and safety restrictions. There are also small cruise ships, but they lack the top-notch service of luxury yacht charter, as well as privacy because they take by-the-cabin bookings from multiple parties at once.
Until recently charter clients with larger groups who wanted private yachts could choose among older boats such as Esmeralda (built in 1981); the 193-foot Altair (built in 1974 with an 18-guest capacity); and the 189-foot Princess Tanya (built in 1961 with an 18-guest limit).
This article originally appeared in the January 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.