A matter of business on the high seas
THE yacht is becoming as much a part of the executive uniform as a briefcase or a mobile phone. Corporate leaders are learning the advantages of discussing deals and striking up partnerships while sailing on the high seas.
It is the ultimate corporate status symbol and the image of wooing a client or a boss on board a luxury yacht is one which sits well in Hongkong's competitive business circles.
''Increasingly, we are seeing more corporate ownership,'' said boat dealer Mike Simpson.
''These days, the motor yacht is being used as a marketing tool.
''Even those who have never been into boating feel that the company should have one - or two.'' Mr Simpson said space, rather than speed, was first priority.
''The owners are not looking to live on the boat, or head out for a week.
''They are not concerned with having beds and bathrooms downstairs.
''They want plenty of room on deck to be able to take people out for the day and mix business with pleasure.
''They are looking for entertainment features such as a television set, karaoke machine, and a jet ski.'' Mr Simpson said that one boat in vogue at the moment was the US$1.5-million, 20-metre Italian-designed Azimut Benetti.
''I sold one recently and the owner specified a large dining area, an electric food lift, a hydraulic crane for hoisting up jet skis - the essential ''toy'' - and a diving board,'' he said.
All these extras could be operated at the touch of a button.
Mr Simpson added, however, that the person ''touching the button'' was unlikely to be the owner.
''The buyer of such a boat would not be worrying about how to drive or operate the thing,'' he said.
''Just like the executive with the stretch limo has a chauffeur, so the owner of a luxury yacht has a captain,'' he said.
Mr Simpson said that the Italian-designed craft, like an Italian-made suit or Italian car, was renowned as the most stylish choice in boating.
''Azimut/Benetti is the third-largest pleasure yacht builder in the world,'' said Mr Simpson.
Motor cruisers range from about 11 metres to the 36-metre motor yachts.
''Benetti designed the Trump Princess, '' said Mr Simpson who has the franchise for the Far East.