Following the Miami Yacht Show 2020, I had the opportunity to have a one-on-one chat with the CEO of Fraser Yachts, Raphael Sauleau. Sauleau is only Fraser’s 5th CEO in its 70+-year history. Fraser was purchased by America’s largest recreational boat and yacht retailer, MarineMax in July 2019. This will only help to maintain and elevate Fraser’s #1 position in the global yachting brokerage business. Over the last five years, Fraser sales totaled 2.291 billion euros.
Fraser was originally founded by David Fraser in 1947 in Southern California. Then it expanded to Ft. Lauderdale in the 70’s and Europe in the ‘90’s. Today Fraser is 73 years old with 21 offices around the world and a 160+ staff. Recent international office openings include Hong Kong, Phuket, TCN Palma, Barcelona and soon Cala Di Forte. Fraser is a world leader in yacht chartering, brokerage, yacht management and new builds. The company supports a sustainable business with a sense of responsibility for the marine environment, promoting actions and initiatives that nurture sea life and protect the world’s oceans. Fraser partners with Plastic Oceans to ensure that plastic pollution becomes a thing of the past for future generations.
Below are a few of the insights shared in our time talking together February 20, 2020.
Tell me a bit about yourself. What were your first career opportunities before working in the Yachting Industry
I considered a professional career in sports initially as I love being active. I make time for sport no matter where I am in the world. If you love something, you find the time. Early on I worked in the cruise industry taking several world cruises where I happened to meet my wife. Later, I moved back to dry land and worked for V-Ships, the largest maritime service provider, as Director of Crew Operations. Then I was swayed to move to Monaco, where I created a Family Office for a high net worth individual who also happened to have a megayacht as one of his assets. Then in 2016, Fraser approached me and here I am now still based in Monaco as their CEO.
What is your definition of luxury yachting and the business of luxury yachting?
Yachting is luxury. Luxury is “freedom.” You go wherever you want. You wake up wherever you want. You move to wherever you want. You do whatever you want. From the business aspect of luxury yachting, we are there from the day you buy the boat until the day you sell the boat. We provide the right crew to make your journeys joyful, creating an environment of pleasure and ease.
During your World Cruises, what places intrigued you most?
I love the sea and in turn, coastal cities. I especially like Cape Town, Sydney and San Francisco. I am impressed with Australia’s nature and Egypt’s culture. I like Myanmar and remember visiting The Strand Hotel with a fantastic restaurant. I love Venice at night. But it’s the emotion that makes one place more memorable than another. It’s hard to pick just one.
Tell me about the latest trends in the industry including eco-friendly yachting?
Without a healthy ocean, not only can the planet not survive, but the world of yachting cannot either. The sea is our playground that we have to protect. It is also our livelihood we have to protect. As an industry, we are starting to see tremendous changes in the way shipyards and naval designers are approaching every element of building and designing yachts. Some banks won’t provide financing now without green elements incorporated.
What market is most important/biggest?
The U.S. is always the strongest and most consistent market driving the yachting industry. Americans are buying bigger now, up to 90 meters. Russia is the silent market. The Ruble went down and there is a long list of client documents to verify where the funds are from. Some Russians used to buy the biggest yachts, but now preferences are in the 40-60 meter range as well as an appetite for all sizes of boats. Australia and New Zealand are strong and the Middle East is still strong. Europe is still good. Asia is still difficult to gauge.
Tell me about the newest additions to the Fraser fleet?
Our 77meter YERSIN is an explorer vessel with green technology, and one of the only ones that can truly say it’s green. YERSIN charters for $479,000/week. Octopus, formerly the late Paul Allen’s yacht is now for sale for $332,721,000. It is an extraordinary vessel with all sorts of bells and whistles.
How have you grown the Fraser Yacht Management fleet to almost 100?
It boils down to people, experience, deliverables. The yachting industry is becoming more regulated and yachts are getting bigger so clients realize they need a proper team to manage them. Word of mouth is valuable. Being strong in all areas of the yachting industry is important.
What sets Fraser apart from its competition to keep earning these milestones?
Fraser is the longest running brokerage house. Longevity of the staff and maintaining relationships builds trust and respect. Strength, longevity and heritage set us apart. We are #1 by the numbers. We invest in technology. We have a strong brand with roots and have not deviated from our course. At the end of the day, we are in a relationship business. We invest in our people. The brand, people and deliverables plus our ethics keep us in the forefront.
How will the economic slowdown worldwide and White House election affect business in 2020 & 2021?
In 2019 there was an industry slowdown. Fewer boats were sold and less dollar volume. 2020 has already picked up.
Where is the most future growth potential? What market and what category of yacht?
America has a lot to give. Asia has less latitude, but there is still growth. At the end of the day, we have no crystal ball.
Where do you want to eventually retire and with what kind of yacht?
When I retire, I want one place in each of my three favorite sea cities of Cape Town, Sydney and San Francisco. I dream of having a 70 meter yacht with low draft, new technology, large windows, open decks and large lounges to relax at sea!