After a successful Palm Beach International Boat Show, award-winning yacht broker Mark Elliott received yet another award: He was named Broker of the Year by IYC for the 12th time.
Elliott has been with IYC for 23 years and continues to apply his decades of experience in assisting his clients in purchasing, selling, and cruising one yacht at a time. He is both a yacht captain and an avid plane and helicopter pilot, in addition to a top yacht broker. Elliott says as a yacht captain he had the most fun job in the world. Being a Captain and helicopter pilot, he says he has flown into every volcano, seen every waterfall, and sailed around every island in the Caribbean.
We recently had a wide-ranging conversation with him:
SherpaReport: Please talk a little about the trends you saw evolving at the Palm Beach Boat Show. Were any of them surprising to you? If so, which and why?
Mark: The surprise was that there was no slowing down. There was activity in both areas – charter and purchase. Of course, I have been waiting for things to slow, but they haven’t as yet. We have been surprised at how quickly things were bought and sold at the Palm Beach Boat show.
SherpaReport: What types of amenities are now truly necessary to sell a multi-million-dollar yacht?
Mark: The beach club on the yacht is a new idea, but so are other, more mechanical amenities – the ZERO speed stabilizer is one, and a new development It allows greatest anchor stability, that allows the yacht to remain stable, even though there may be much surface water instability around the yacht.
And then, there are wheelchair friendly yachts, that help the less mobile yacht owners move around more easily. Then, there are elevators, moving from floor to floor. The elevators help anyone - one of our clients had a Labrador Retriever who enjoyed elevator rides on his master’s yacht!
SherpaReport: How do you begin with a new UUHNW client? What must you know first?
Mark: For the first-time yacht buyer, I must understand their mission: do they want a sailing yacht? An expedition yacht? Do they like going fast or slow? Do they like being with others, or do they like solace and quiet? And, what is their budget? Though I have worked with a few billionaires and multi-millionaires, no one yet has given me and my team a blank check. I must always discover their preferences, what they are truly looking for.
SherpaReport: In your bio, it was said that you experienced a Mistral. For those who aren’t familiar, it is a strong wind, often emerging, quite unexpectedly, in the Mediterranean. We have been in Arles and Languedoc in the south of France, we know some of the culture and its poetry relates to the Mistral. Please explain your experience with it.
Mark: It was not poetic! The Mistral is a strong wind – we were on a 177 foot yacht called the Nadine – I was the Captain. The story was depicted in the movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, but the real story was much more dramatic. To make a long story short, when we left the harbor, the sea waves were between four and six feet, then six to eight feet, then thirty to fifty feet. Then, 100. We had a Mistral warning, then, we were told we were in the storm of the century. The Nadine sank, we got all the guests off the yacht. It could have been so much worse than it was. No one lost their lives, but the Nadine sank.
SherpaReport: Glad you are still with us! Please explain what you look for now in a well-built yacht and which shipyards build truly memorable yachts.
Mark: The shipyards in Northern Europe all build exceptional yachts, but what do I look for? Exceptional machinery to make the yacht live and function at the highest levels, so the choice of machinery that runs the yachts must be the best there is. Then, there has to be enough room to operate the machinery well. Also, as far as buying and selling yachts, you have to be aware of the delta between the cost when they buy and when they sell. Some hold their value better than others.
SherpaReport: How do you define the worth and the legacy of a great yacht? What is it about the experience of yachting that defines these things?
Mark: I define worth often in terms of legacy. On a great yacht there must be great style, which is part of the cachet, or ambiance, which relates to the yacht’s reliability. And then the crew has to be exceptional in all areas: service, culinary, maintenance. The whole ship must play like a well-tuned piano – nothing ever out of tune, always harmonic.
SherpaReport: We have asked this before of many yacht and private jet brokers, all with various answers, but in your opinion, what were some of the positive learning experiences that came out of the pandemic years?
Mark: Well, I think that our IYC clients - the charterers and buyers - understand better about the safety of the Yacht Bubble. Toward the end of the pandemic, people came to understand that the experience of being on and in a yacht has a deep sense of safety. You are at sea, no Covid there, and the yacht is so safe, along with a sense of freedom, and a sense of adventure, all without the worry of catching illnesses from strangers. It is a safe environment. I think yachting was considered like this before, but the pandemic taught us a few good lessons: life is short, yachting is safe yet adventurous, and because of this, sales have doubled, and chartering has tripled.
SherpaReport: In your bio, it is said you are an excellent pilot also. Can you compare the feelings of being in the air and being on the water? How are they the same and different?
Mark: The feeling of being free, above the clouds or on the water is not very different. Both are exhilarating, and can’t be duplicated anywhere else.