One of the main differences in Synchrony Yachts’ program versus others: the lowest owner-to-yacht ratio thus far in the megayacht market. A handful of companies sell one-tenth shares, and some offer one-eighth shares, but Synchrony Yachts is offering one-quarter shares, meaning a maximum of four owners per boat.
One Benetti Classic 120 that is presently under construction, for delivery in spring 2010, is in the program so far. Like the 120 pictured above and the dozen or so other Classics delivered to date, she will feature accommodations for upwards of 10 people and six to seven crew, with a main-deck owner’s suite and four guest staterooms below decks. Because the 120 is a proven platform, Synchrony Yachts’ goal is to create a fleet of them (and perhaps other yachts), giving owners a choice of boats. Since the company also wants to keep its fleet “fresh” (to use its wording), it plans to enroll only new launches and rotate each out of the program after five years, putting them up for sale.
Another difference Synchrony Yachts offers is more time to enjoy cruising. Each share entitles owners to six weeks aboard, versus a variety of shorter terms from other firms. I’ve seen 28-day, 30-day, four-week, and five-week shares in various literature, for example. There’s certainly nothing wrong with those time frames, and while some of the companies offering them do permit shareholders to request more time, that’s offered at additional cost.
Tied to more time onboard is more flexibility in booking. Instead of setting two weeks in winter and two weeks in summer, or a similar division, Synchrony Yachts permits owners both advanced bookings as well as short-term booking windows, such as one-day or three-day trips.
“We don’t want to reinvent anything,” James Henderson, CEO of Synchrony Yachts, tells me. Rather, the goal is to emphasize “the experience of yachting.” The company believes it can do this through its different approach to fractional ownership as well as intended partnerships with private aviation, limousine, resorts, and travel groups.
It additionally says each owner is protected against credit risk, default of any other owners, or the risk of insolvency of the company itself.
I also found it interesting that Bob Saxon, the well-known charter and yacht-management expert, is advising the company. Having recently formed his own firm, Bob Saxon Consultancy, he brings with him more than three decades of experience working with owners and various industry organizations.
This will be an interesting company to watch develop.