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A yacht for the price of a car
Priyanka Joshi
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February 23, 2008

The 20-odd luxury yachts, each 35 feet to 100 feet, docked at the marina at the Gateway of India in Mumbai, are a sight for sore eyes. These include a superyacht, houseboats, catamarans, speed boats and even kayaks.

The Samira Mumbai International Boat show, being held at the Bandra-Kurla Complex from February 28 to March 2, is hoping to offer a taste of marine luxury to those so inclined.

After all, well-known yachting brands like Princess, Sunseeker, Azimut, Benetti, Larson, Cobalt, Grady White, Ferretti, Jeanneau, Pershing, Kawasaki, Chantier CIM and Yamaha are all jostling to find space in marinas all over the country.

"The luxury yacht market, owing to recent market trends and also the increase in the number of potential customers, has emerged as the most appetising and interesting business area for pleasure-craft dealers like us," claims Aashim Mongia, managing director of West Coast Marine.

A fully-integrated marine company, West Coast Marine handles a diverse portfolio of requirements to meet the needs of yacht owners, ferry, marina operators and tour operators.

Mongia, who is the exclusive dealer and distributor of Majesty - a yacht that promises a royal cruising experience - is betting on selling yachts sized 50-60 feet.

"Last year, we saw boats in sizes from 30-40 feet being the favourite, and this year we expect the 65-ft-long, and $1.4 million worth Majesty to define the trend."

An expert yachtsman himself, Mongia is positive about selling a couple of Majesty boats to the Indian nouveau riche this year.

"It offers you 40 per cent more space value than European built yachts, and having been the number one seller in India in the 40 -ft plus category, it has the best after-sales and servicing systems," he claims.

Mongia's Majesty boasts of Dutch, Italian, British and Australian designer touches that offer each individual customer the ability to personalise his yacht.

"Catering to every whim of our elite customers is a pre-requisite for us. Thus, we are offering training for crew and for novice owners, boat maintenance services and also all the technical upkeep of a yacht," says Riyhad Kundanmal, director of Ocean Crest Marine.

Kundanmal is serious when he says, "We will be for yachts and boats what Tata is for cars." What he means is that entry-level boats starting at around Rs 15 lakh (Rs 1.5 million) will be the solution for all transportation woes in coastal cities like Mumbai, Goa, and even lake cities like Hyderabad. "We will be going for the masses and those who would like to have a boat at the price of a car."

Mongia and Kundanmal are all geared to offer palatial pleasure yachts fitted with swimming pools, salons and even personalised entertainment corners for the 60-odd billionaires and the thousands of aspiring millionaires in the country today.

"Surprisingly, in a country that was home to little less than 60 billionaires in 2007 and adding more to the list every year, the market for luxury yachts does not stretch beyond 100-odd buyers," rues Mongia.

The main luxury yacht client profile is represented by individuals who belong to a social class in the world of high finance and business, with very high incomes and personal wealth, whose buying behaviour and interests revolve around entertainment and the beautiful things in life. Kundanmal is expecting to find 100 buyers for his luxury boats this year.

The boating industry is marred by 35 per cent import duties. Kundanmal says. "This takes yacht prices northwards, leaving us with no choice but to sell boats at prices that sound delirious to many.

We hope to see some attention given by the government to building marine infrastructure that would encourage yachts and boats as an alternate mode of transportation in harbour cities like Mumbai." So, the next time you're stuck in peak hour traffic in your car, think about a quick pop down to the beach.

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