Sometimes, our timing is just too perfect. We were in Venice for Canivale, Estonia for their switch to the Euro, Belarus for the president's inauguration and now this. The Monaco Yacht Show (MYS) is the principality's second biggest event of the year, after the Formula I Grand Prix. They estimate that over 30,000 "yacht enthusiasts" (and schmoes like us), come in for the four day event each September. Port Hercule is transformed into a floating display case lined with trade show tents and blue carpet.
It should be specified that the yachts in the show are actually superyachts. Amazingly, in each of the last five years, the average yacht size at the MYS has gone up. But that's part of the reason people come here. I get the sense that the Monaco Yacht Show strives to exist completely outside the realm of this globe, both its economy and its warming. Prince Albert II must be pretty red-faced this time of year around his environmentalist buddies. Possibly because of that, the show organizers are very vocal about their support of the prince's Wood Forever program, which tries to get yacht builders to use sustainable wood.
As the MYS catalog says, "Monaco is the proven show where the Elite meet to make decisions on what next to buy" - and it's an amazing thing to watch. People sit with brokers and leaf through brochures. Others check out the model yachts on display inside the tents. This couple looked at sketches with a naval architect, having already collected bags filled with promotional materials and a gift or two from rivaling exhibitors.
While the boats may be the most obvious draw, services and supplies make up the bulk of the show. Stands showcase everything from china sets and carpet samples to underwater lights and yacht transport. Some corners of the tents felt like a music video set, others like a bizarro Ikea. People set out croissants and cookies for the casual shoppers and champagne was stashed away for the serious clientele.
Even with the bar, restaurant and collection of televisions showing the Rugby World Cup, the tents were just not the place to be. We saw more people at the ice cream stand outside than the "crystal lounge" inside, because it's pretty hard to compete with sunlight and yacht views.
There are 100 superyachts in the water this year, 40 of which are making their worldwide debut. People buzzed around on motorboats, whisking potential buyers off to tour a yacht or arriving at the show from a nearby port. We can see a large group of yachts out in the water from our apartment window, presumably displaced from Port Hercule to make room for the show pieces. Tenders brought the owners back and forth from their place out to sea.
This boat was the subject of some sort of photo shoot, complete with far-off looks and leg-up posing. There's a whole social scene surrounding the show, including parties, charity auctions and the veritable luxury car parade circling the Monte Carlo at any given time. It's impossible not to get a sense of excitement and fun from it all. It's sort of like going to fashion week or being invited to a sleepover at the popular girl's house. It doesn't matter that you're in the last row or that you're the only one who brought a teddy bear, you're there! And it's all so prettttty.
In my humble opinion, people should really diverge from the white, black, silver and grey palette. I bet any amount of money that if there was a pink yacht there, someone would have bought it. Having said that, it was amazing to walk down the suspended walkways and look up at these shiny monsters. You can look right in at the fully furnished bedrooms complete with artwork and the dining room set for a banquet. We attended on the last day of the show. People were celebrating sales and saying goodbye to colleagues and competitors. After four days of work and play, it was time to pack up and hit the road (or water).
Two notes about the video above. 1) Robin Leach would do a mean voice over. 2) The man loading groceries onto the yacht dropped a bag into the water shortly after. A blue container of mushrooms floated on the surface of the water.