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Showboating in style
IF you're looking for a holiday option without the hassle of checking in your luggage, taking off your shoes at the security check line, and being restricted to your tiny airplane seat while your chatty neighbour tells you all about his or her fear of flying, you might want to consider chartering a yacht instead.
The Singapore Yacht Show, held at ONE°15 Marina Club in Sentosa Cove, is back for its sixth edition, featuring over 100 boats of varying sizes. The biggest of these is the 56-metre Lady Candy built by Italian shipbuilding company Benetti in 2013.
The superyacht - defined as any yacht over 24 metres - will be joined by four or five others.
Chartering a superyacht can cost more than S$500,000 per week, though one could argue it's worth the cost.
The 50-metre yacht Sensation from Fraser Yachts, for example, can accommodate up to 12 guests in five staterooms and also features a jacuzzi while the 55-metre La Familia by Dutch yacht builder Amels comes fitted with a touch-and-go helipad.
Andy Treadwell, managing director of the Singapore and Thailand Yacht Shows, says: "The superyachts are really what draw most of the buyers to our show. They're the height of luxury travel. There's nothing that can get you the privacy, the ability to discover new places, and access to the ocean's natural assets quite like yachting."
The 60-year-old was asked to set up an Asian yachting show back in 2008, when he was managing the Monaco Yacht Show.
He recalls: "The world economy was really suffering at the time, and during economic crises like that, the gentleman's yacht is usually the first thing to be sold off. There was a big slowdown in Europe and America, so we had to look for a new market. Asia was the obvious answer."
Their inaugural show in 2011 drew around 5,000 visitors, and interest has steadily increased since, with around 11,500 attendees last year in spite of the heavy rain that formed the backdrop of the entire event.
"We hope to get at least 15,000 visitors this year," says Mr Treadwell. "The weather forecast looks good, but we're still crossing our fingers and toes and bringing in the Buddhist monks to make sure we don't get rained out!"
Though the show has been receiving traction, there is still much further to go. Mr Treadwell explains: "Ninety per cent of the superyachts are in the Mediterranean for the summer season, and they go to the Caribbean for the winter season to charter because Asia still has regulations in place that are unfavourable to the yacht owners. We need to bring them here because there's so much to see in the region, and once they do try it, they keep coming back."
While Singapore itself isn't a cruising destination because of its shallow waters, it is a prime hub for connecting Western superyachts to the vast and unchartered bodies of water surrounding Thailand and Indonesia.
In fact, Mr Treadwell believes the Singapore Yacht Show complements the Thailand Yacht Show, launched in February this year.
"Thailand is the ultimate cruising destination with all its beaches and diving sites, while Singapore has the best infrastructure for conducting business. We're planning to hold our show in Thailand at the beginning of the winter season in December every year, and keeping this one to the end, in mid-April," he explains.
The Singapore Yacht Show, initially an invitation-only event, now has an expanded range of activities to appeal to every member of the family. Along with the impressive superyachts on display, visitors can look forward to a "Black and Red" gala dinner with performances by burlesque artist Sukki Singapora and jazz singer Zoey Jones, a live cooking demonstration by MasterChef Asia judge Audra Morrice, as well as the chance to test out yacht toys like jet skis and flyboards.
A toy to look out for is the C-Explorer 3 personal submarine by U-Boat Worx, which can carry three passengers to a depth of 1,000 metres in fully air-conditioned comfort.
Mr Treadwell, who gets out on his 6.5-metre rigid-inflatable boat every year with his family, adds: "This year, we wanted to focus on actual participation for everyone. The demonstration platform will give people the chance to try out some of the toys on offer. We want to get them out onto the water so they discover for themselves how enjoyable it can be."
The Singapore Yacht Show 2016 is on till April 10 at the ONE°15 Marina Club in Sentosa Cove. Tickets start from S$25. For more information, please visit www.singaporeyachtshow.com