Fun for the rich starts at a cool HK$39m

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 December, 2010, 12:00am

On page one of the Nisi Yachts brochure is a quote from ancient Greek historian Herodotus, dated the fifth century BC. It says: 'If a man insisted always on being serious, and never allowed himself a bit of fun, he would go mad without knowing it.'

What it doesn't say is that if the fun entails buying a Nisi motor yacht, it also helps if you're dripping with cash. Costing a cool HK$39 million to buy, the Nisi is one of the major attractions at the Hong Kong International Boat Show at Club Marina Cove, Sai Kung.

It proves beyond any doubt that the market for luxury yachts in China is booming - the 78-foot Nisi was built in Zhuhai . The Asian market is driven by demand from China, and Nisi dealer Olivier Besson believes business will only get better.

'Having a yacht like this is the ultimate way of showing off your wealth,' Besson said. 'Wealthy people in China are like wealthy people anywhere else in the world. They want to show off their riches and impress people.'

Hong Kong and Macau yachts will be able to sail and moor in Zhuhai waters from next month without restrictions after the mainland city eased applications for local licences.

At present, yachts registered outside the mainland have to go through troublesome procedures before they can sail into mainland waters. Though the process may take only seven days, owners who make regular visits need to give up their Hong Kong or Macau licence to apply for a mainland one - a turn-off for most. Zhuhai announced it would allow yachts registered in Hong Kong or Macau to apply for a local licence without having to give up their original certification.

Besson looks upon this as another reason why the business possibilities are endless when it comes to the building and selling of luxury yachts on the mainland.

'Zhuhai has made this change and Hainan and Shenzhen are in the process of doing the same,' he said. 'It'll mean that the production of these yachts will increase. Demand for them will increase and so will sales. More and more marinas and infrastructure are popping up all over China.'

The Hong Kong International Boat Show is now in its 16th year and the organisers, Club Marina Cove, have gathered together a variety of yachts and cruisers from leading makers and dealers in Italy, England, France, the US, Taiwan, Australia and the mainland.

Other highlights include the British-built Predator - the most expensive yacht on view at HK$55 million, and the Horizon from Taiwan which is the biggest at 97 feet long.

The Nisi is getting its first public showing in the world. If one word were to sum up what it stands for, it would be 'pleasure'.

'The spirit of this boat is luxury. It's so hi-tech that the entire boat is controlled by a complex computer and the computer is linked to your iPod. With your iPod you can then set the lights, the music, whatever you like,' Besson said. 'On a yacht like this all you want to do is relax and enjoy the luxury.'