From November 5 to 8, 70 boats and 113 brokers walked the docks at the 28th annual BVI Charter Yacht Show at Village Cay Marina in the heart of Road Town, Tortola. Unlike other boat shows, the focus was socializing rather than sales. During the day, brokers familiarized themselves with the boats, getting to know their crew and memorizing the intricacies of each boat’s layout. Various activities like crew cook-offs, napkin-folding competitions, cocktail-mixing contests and crew match making made for great entertainment throughout the days. In the evenings, crews and brokers mingled during the several planned social events, including the much-anticipated Governor’s Ball.
In the world of independent charter yachts, face-to-face interactions are pivotal. When charter brokers become familiar with charter yacht crew, they are better able to match their clients to the people, atmosphere and cuisine that will best fit their needs. In the independent charter boat world, the brokers are the matchmakers and the charter boat shows are the place to be seen.
“This is the primary place where boats can make themselves seen to brokers,” explains Janet Oliver, the executive director of the BVI Charter Yacht Society, which has been running the boat show since its start. The non-profit organization represents the crewed yacht industry in the area and is always reaching out to make independent yachts more competitive in this sailing haven. “Independent yachts are more challenging because the combination of the crew and the yacht is key,” says Oliver. “That’s why it’s especially good to see that we had a bumper year.”
The fleet of 70 boats, ranging in size from 40 feet to over 100 feet, was the largest in years. Oliver believes the numbers were up because both sides—yacht crews and brokers—are learning that this is the one time each year where the entire industry gathers. “At the social events, the brokers begin to learn a little bit more about the crew and see them socialize with their peers. This gives them a better sense of the kind of trip that crew would run,” explains Oliver.
This year, the Charter Yacht Society made a big push to make the event green, with a green boat products expo and free reusable water bottles for everyone in attendance. They received a bronze-level certification from Sailors for the Sea for their pre-show coastal cleanup and for placing glass receptacles around the show.
On the last day of the show, brokers got the opportunity to see these boats in action. About 35 of them opted into a daysail aboard a charter boat and sailed around to crews’ various favorite anchorages for swimming and socializing.
The BVI Charter Yacht Show was just the beginning. Later that week, over 40 yachts pulled up for the St. Thomas Fall Yacht Show from November 10 to 12 at Yacht Haven Grande in St. Thomas. From December 4 to 7, the MYBA Charter Show (www.mybacaribbeanshow.com) in St. Maarten is anticipating 40 to 50 yachts and to top it off, the Antigua Charter Yacht Show (www.antiguayachtshow.com)), from December 7 to 11 will showcase the most and the biggest boats, anticipating 80 to 100 participants.