Why You Might Want to Learn Chinese

7 July 2009 By Kelly Sanford

As yacht crew, we are often charged with learning the culture and protocol that suits our owners. Old school yachties might recall a time when yacht owners were almost all old-money socialites and royalty. Those who came into yachting in the 80s might have worked for brainy venture capitalists or Japanese nationals enjoying the profitability of the electronics craze.

In the 90s many will recall a sudden rise in the number of young dot-commers with their infant children and informal attitude towards their yachts. The first decade of the millennium was a mixed bag, predominately punctuated by overnight “millionaires on paper” and surging wealth from Europe and Russia. And every time the yacht buyer's dynamic changed, the demands on the crew’s decorum would change.

As we sit in the midst of one of the most volatile economic periods in the world’s history, one might wonder what the next generation of yacht buyer might be like. The traditional sectors of yacht sales have slowed to a trickle, and one region seems to be flourishing. And it just might be time to start brushing up on your Chinese, because according to the Wealth Bulletin the Asian market is coming on strong.

Luca Cristino, general manager of Azimut Yachts, told the Wealth Bulletin, “The Asian market, particularly China and Hong Kong, is one of our most important and fast-growing areas of growth, with around 20 percent of our growth coming from there in 2008.”

Yacht broker Pete Woods was recently visiting a client aboard his yacht when he was introduced to a Chinese national whose brother was the Asian dealer for Sunseeker. “His sales are doing really well,” says Woods. According to Woods, the Asian market’s sales accounted for nearly half of the new Sunseekers sold in the current economy.

The Wealth Bulletin cites information gathered from Merrill Lynch and Capgemini World Wealth Report and concludes that “China is set to have more millionaires than any other country in the world by 2013, having overtaken the UK in terms of the number of millionaires last year.”

So as many yacht crew are considering what qualifications going forward will make them competitive in the future, it may be worth adding a course of Chinese to your list of achievements.