By David Robinson

The ongoing Chinese government policies against fighting corruption and its efforts to better the country’s wealth balance are making it harder for leading brands to sell yachts in China. This is the case for such as Azimut, Ferretti and Jeanneau/Prestige, which are all currently exhibiting at the SO! Dalian show in northern China.

“Selling yachts is more difficult this year compared to last,” Crystal Qian, marketing manager for Azimut China, told SB at the show. “In 2013 we sold 13 yachts but this year we have only five so far. These include two 16.5m (54ft) Azimzut 54s; a 24.4m (80ft) Azimut 80, a 16.1m (53ft) Magellano 53 and the first Azimut Dragon 66 of the specially designed series for the Asian market.”

Qian indicated that government policies involving the fight against corruption were certainly an influencing factor in affecting sales. Azimut was exhibiting at SO! Dalian without the Benetti side of the group, which was a change from the 2014 SO! Dalian when, for the first time, Azimut and Benneti shared one exhibition stand.

The same situation applies to Ferretti in that sales are harder to achieve this year. “We do not give sales numbers but selling yachts is harder this year than in 2014,”

Alessandro Tirelli, sales director for Ferretti in Asia, told SB in Dalian: “We have slowed down the development of our sales network as a result of the slower sales.”

One sale that Ferretti did achieve at the Hong Kong Gold Coast Boat Show was of its 26.6m (87.33ft) Ferretti 870 Tai He Ban superyacht, which is the first such model specifically designed for the Asia market. “We will be having a 25.76m (84.5ft) Ferretti Altura 840 Tai He Ban coming out in August,” Tirelli commented, “and if we don’t sell it will likely be at a show in Hainan.”

“We are hopeful the market may improve in the coming months,” Paul Blanc, managing director for Jeanneau Asia Pacific, told SB: “because of the stronger stock market and people may want to spend money on boats.” He confirmed that the Chinese market remains active for yachts in the 13.7m-15.3m (45ft-50ft) range. He particularly pointed to sailing boat sales improving over motoryachts, a reverse of the previous pattern.

He told SB that: “In 2012-13 we sold about 50 boats, of which 80% were Prestige models but in 2013-14 we sold some 45 yachts with sales be about 50:50 sail and motor. We are continuing to educate the market and last December we had a meeting of Jeanneau/Prestige owners in Sanya and 23 boats came, of which 17 were sail and six motor. The previous year’s meeting had seen 11 boats come, of which all were sail.”

“We are looking to develop offshore racing in China, as nothing is being done in this sector as yet,” Blanc added. “We are looking to hold an event in the autumn which will include legs from Qingdao in the north to Shanghai, Xiamen and Shenzhen. We are working with the Dongfeng team on this development to help develop a group of Chinese offshore sailors.”