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Young Bitcoin investors, technology start-up execs helping to fuel boating business boom

Fraser CEO Raphael Sauleau noted on Tuesday that young Bitcoin investors and technology start-up executives have been major contributors to the boating business boom

“We’ve seen a change in our average demographic,” Sauleau told “Mornings with Maria” on Tuesday, noting that “a couple years ago, the average age of clients was between 55 and 65 and now we’re down to 45 to 55.” 

“We sold yachts to as young as 25-years-old last year and the year before,” he continued. 

“So they’re coming from Bitcoin, they’re coming from tech startups, but also hedge funds and we’ve seen a lot of customers coming from these different environments and younger customers, both on the sales side and also on the charter side.”

Sauleau also stressed that the interest from new demographics is in addition to the business generated from traditional clientele. 

“The pandemic has affected a lot of people,” he told host Maria Bartiromo, noting “the fact that we’ve been confined and not able to travel for a while” has accelerated interest in yachts. 

“Some of our existing customers they said, ‘You know what? Maybe it’s time to have a bigger yacht or a larger yacht.’ Some of us said, ‘I’ve always been chartering so why don’t I buy a yacht now?,’” Sauleau said. “So we’ve seen all this phenomenon, which obviously has been having a very positive impact on the yachting industry.”

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Sauleau’s yachting company, which specializes in luxury yachts for sale and charters, has experienced a 175% jump from 2020 to 2021, Bartiromo mentioned, citing Fraser data. 

“2021 saw the highest demand for yachts and yachting that Fraser brokers have ever experienced,” according to the company

Sauleau pointed out that the company has been able to attract a lot of new customers “because of the possibilities to travel somewhat freely.” 

He noted that Fraser has “seen a jump of about 61% of new customers,” with 40% of those new customers new to yachting. 

“So these numbers are really incredible and clearly show that yachting is attracting a lot of new people today,” Sauleau told Bartiromo. 

Sauleau also discussed on Tuesday why he believes business has been booming for boats since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, noting that “people are looking for a place where they will feel safer.” 

He stressed that on a yacht, “you are controlling your own environment, you are deciding where you are traveling to [and] with whom you are traveling with.”

Earlier this month National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) noted that demand for boating continues to reach near record-highs as more Americans turn to boating as an outdoor activity, especially as sports and travel continued to be impacted by COVID-19 as omicron cases surged

The association noted that boat builders experienced supply chain disruptions during the pandemic, which impacted new boat deliveries to retailers and hampered growth in 2021 as the industry faced heightened demand. 

Still, U.S. new powerboat retail unit sales are expected to surpass 300,000 units for the second year in a row, ending 2021 an estimated 4 to 6% below record highs in 2020 and 7% above the five-year sales average, according to NMMA. 

The association also noted that manufacturing productivity is accelerating to try to meet the demand for new boats, with boat building production nearing pre-pandemic levels as supply chain constraints ease.

In 2020, the market for boat and marine product sales surged to $47 billion, up 9% year-over-year.

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Sauleau acknowledged that yachting is “still a high price ticket,” but stressed that there are “misconceptions” about yachting only being accessible to the rich and famous. 

He noted that chartering a yacht would cost about $40,000 to $50,000 a week.

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FOX Business’ Sumner Park contributed to this report.

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