China predicted to be major market for shared boat

The Cruising Club, an Australian company offering fractional boat ownership, is tipping China to be a major market for shared boat-ownership schemes.

Speaking to IBI at the Shanghai boat show today, the company's CEO Mark Cairney said that fractional ownership — where an owner buys an equity share in a boat and its running costs — could be a way of cracking the domestic Asian market.

'There are a lot of boatbuilders who are selling to expats out here,' Cairney said, 'but it's difficult to get the locals to take the step into boating. They don't know how to use boats and are reluctant to part with the full purchase price.'

The boating lifestyle is largely alien to the Chinese, who by nature dislike being in the sun, and have until now associated water with work and industry rather than leisure.

'Fractional ownership takes the hassle out of the boating experience,' Cairney told IBI. 'You need a fraction of the money to have the boating lifestyle, but you get the same kudos of owning say a 60-footer. We take care of the boat, all the provisioning, and maintenance and will provide a skipper — its walk on, walk off boating and a good way to introduce the Chinese to the boating experience.'

The Cruising Club has been operating for over eight years and started franchising its operation two years ago. It now has bases in Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and the US and the company is in the process of adding Dubai and the Caribbean to that list.

The growth of such schemes could also prove a boon to the local marinas.
'Single ownership boats maybe get serviced once a year and don't take much fuel,' Cairney said. 'Fractionally-owned boats are used a lot more so need to be serviced five or six times a year, need more fuel and need provisioning consistently. They are a very good way of marinas leveraging the returns they get from each mooring.'

The Cruising Club recently signed a non-exclusive international dealership arrangement with Australian boatbuilder Mustang and now offers that boat brand in its scheme, along with Sunrunners, Sunseekers and a host of other international marques.