Maintenance is the key to unlocking high brokerage values for Heesen yachts
Many a yachting aficionado dreams of building – one day – their very own Heesen. But the brokerage market is a quicker way to join the Heesen family, and every year canny owners skip the queue in this way. With 480m of our yachts changing hands in nine separate transactions in 2023, we went on the hunt for clues about how Heesens perform.
Long experience has shown that owners don’t part lightly with their yachts, so the rate of turnover each year is low compared to other brands. The average Heesen remains in the same hands for around five years, although some owners are into their third decade with the same yacht. Inevitably, as the fleet grows, there are more brokerage opportunities – but they don’t last long.
“Heesen yachts typically spend less time on the market compared to other brands, reflecting their high demand and prestigious reputation,” says Sergey Patrikeev, business developer at Arcon Yachts, who recently sold the 50m Sairu (now Julia). “As per market statistics, 39 Heesen yachts have been sold over the past three years.”
Jonathan Hind of Burgess recently sold the one-year-old yacht Lusine, and says that the age, condition and price are key to a successful transfer. “But for argument’s sake; if there were very similar yachts (age, condition, price etc) being compared, then I would say that the Heesen would be one of the favourites to sell.”
|List of Heesens sold publicly via a broker
Arne Ploch of Camper & Nicholson sold the 50m Van Tom after just four weeks, and notes that a correctly priced Heesen yacht, “will not last long on the brokerage market”. Regular, preventative maintenance is critical to protecting value, he says. “Owners of high-quality yachts tend to keep them in top condition, which helps to find a buyer quickly. Good quality, Dutch branding and workmanship, combined with some of the best designers in the world is a great concept.”
Heesen boasts a 16-strong aftersales team, whose focus is entirely on helping owners to keep their yachts in perfect shape. From engine and hydraulic maintenance to electronics updates and refit, there is no owner request too far out for head of customer services,Mark Cavendish. “Our team is in touch with around 100 of our boats. We are really proud of the team because it’s a very demanding world,” he says. “Whether we’re working through partner shipyards or sending out our Heesen ‘Flying Squad’ technicians to work on-site, our common goal is to ensure the owner can enjoying their yacht to the max.”
In some cases, a well-maintained Heesen barely depreciates, according to Thom Conboy, director of sales for Heesen in North America, and senior director at broker Ocean Independence. “For example, Heesen built nine 50m semi-displacement boats, starting with Satori in 2011. In the first three years, most of those owners broke even – they didn’t lose money,” he says. “If you start with a north European platform and maintain it, you retain good value.”
Conboy recently sold the 55m Lady JJ (now South), which was maintained to museum quality. He believes it comes down to experience because a veteran owner knows how to take care of their asset. “Don’t charter the yacht for 20 weeks a year,” he advises. “It’s better with rotational crew and give the boat plenty of downtime – it’s not a car or a jet!”
The point about crew is also critical because it is they who will undertake the day-to-day maintenance in the owner’s absence. Recruiting and retaining the right people is part of the art. “It mainly comes down to how the crew are compensated and how they are treated,” Conboy says. “Experience is helpful in finding the right crew. If you’re out shopping for the cheapest crew and captain, your boat’s going to reflect that.”
When it comes time to sell, Ploch of C&N has a final trick up his sleeve. “Present the yacht as if she is ready to go cruising with the owners – that’s always the best way to show a yacht. The potential buyers get the impression that all they need to bring is swimming gear and off we go… that the stew offers a coffee or something to drink obviously helps to get this feeling.”
Maintaining the yacht
High-quality yachts like Heesens are rarely in and out of the shipyard to fix things that have actually broken. “The components we use are the best,” says Chief Commercial Officer Mark Cavendish. “Our aluminium hulls are welded up in-house in our own manufacturing plant: we don’t subcontract it to people who are less interested in the job than we are. Our steel hulls are built by a long-term partner in Franeker in the north of Holland – we don’t subcontract to other parts of the world. It takes us longer to build a boat than others – it’s around three years to build a 50m. It’s a different mentality.”
Yard visits are more about preventative maintenance and preserving equipment in top condition. From the engine to the cold storage, everything aboard has a servicing interval to respect. Luckily, Heesen makes it easy. “We have a comprehensive aftersales department which is available 24/7 and have a dedicated hotline,” says Cavendish. “We provide many of our yachts going back years with parts and service. Many of our owners like to buy their parts through Heesen so they are OEM.”
Heesen itself has no yard capacity for refit or servicing, but it has built close links with some of the best reputed refit shipyards in the world, including Icon in the Netherlands, Amico in Genoa, MB92 in Barcelona and La Ciotat, IMS700 in Toulon, Lauderdale Marine Center, and Mina Rashid Marina in Dubai. But no matter where the boat lies, from Hong Kong to South America, Heesen’s Flying Squad will travel to carry out or supervise the necessary work. “The goal of the Customer Support department is to stay in contact with our sailing fleet, as we know the yachts the best, including the people on board and the history,” explains Cavendish. “Our professionals have been working 25-plus years at Heesen.”
They deal with the full gamut of issues. From the regular, such as engine or safety equipment maintenance, to the more demanding. At the moment, for instance, Heesen is helping some of its clients switch over from longstanding rubber shaft bearings to the new composite units that are increasingly favoured by Class Societies. Another current project is to provide the technical drawings necessary to refit a yacht with a fixed staircase up to the sun deck instead of the ultra-private hydraulic ‘drawbridge’ solution that the previous owner had specced. “Every owner has their own priorities,” Cavendish says. “Our job is to help them get the most from their boats.”
Combined with the sky-high build quality of the yachts, it is this attitude which ensures that Heesen’s fleet remains in excellent condition. Small wonder, then, that they are such fleeting visitors to the brokerage market and command such strong values. Only the lucky few will get to own a Heesen yacht, but they can rest assured that it will outperform almost any other brand in terms of value.
Delivered in 2022, Lusine is one of the largest yachts ever built by Heesen. With an exterior by Omega Architects and interior by Sinot Exclusive Yacht Design, she won the ‘Best custom yacht of the year’ award at the World Yacht Trophies 2022.
Unusually, the owner’s suite is positioned aft on the bridge deck, but this gives the possibility of a large, private terrace. There’s a VIP cabin and a further twin on the main deck, a divine twin room on the sun deck and four doubles on the lower deck – room for 16 guests in total.
The sun deck’s versatile aft area can serve as a sun lounge or be cleared by crew for use as a helipad. Impressive storage was also part of the brief, with a large aft tender garage and another large space behind shell doors under the foredeck.
“Heesen are famous for building great quality aluminium yachts,” says Jonathan Hind of Burgess, which sold the yacht. “This usually means they are fast and efficient, as well as very capable. Heesen’s DNA is changing, but they are still known and desired for their sharp, bold lines and performance.”
Lady JJ (55m)
Originally named Serenity, this 55m steel yacht dates from 2011 and offers an astonishing 860 gross tonnes of internal volume. “She is one of the largest 55m boats ever built,” says Thom Conboy, the US-based broker who has sold her three times since she was first delivered. “She was immaculately maintained – the owners took care of everything like it was museum quality.”
Unlike most of Heesen’s yachts, Lady JJ is a steel-hulled displacement design. With a top speed of 15 knots from her 12V4000 MTU engines, she has the economy and the tankage to achieve a 6,000 nautical mile range at 10 knots. The boat is a fully custom one-off with six staterooms and interior styling by Omega Architects, who have favoured high gloss and polished maple cabinetry, 11 different marbles and the use of glass and mirror motifs.
White belongs to a class of nine semi-displacement yachts built by Heesen in the 2010s. The basic design is for a 50m hull capable of speeds up to 23 knots, but with ocean-crossing range at a more economical 11 knots. There is room for 12 guests in six cabins. The owner’s suite is positioned forward on the main deck, while a full beam VIP and four other cabins are all on the lower deck. Her crew complement is nine.
The 80 square metre sun deck is one of the social centres of White, with its bar area, Jacuzzi and relaxed seating in Hermès upholstery. The interior was styled by Cristiano Gatto in glossy ebony and Canaletto walnut. An ebony, leather and stainless-steel coffee table is one of the stand-out features – the more so that it has an ice bucket hidden beneath it.
Van Tom (49.9m)
Another yacht in the distinctive 50m semi-displacement mould, Van Tom was delivered in 2018. “Van Tom was built by an experienced owner who took a proven model designed by Frank Laupman, improved it by the experience learned from previous models, and combined it with an Italian interior design by Francesco Paszkowski and Margherita Casprini,” says Arne Ploch of C&N, who sold the boat. “After five seasons, it was time to move on and the yacht came on the market in top condition, on time for the high season in yacht sales right after the summer, and competitively priced to find a new owner. After only four weeks on the market, the yacht went under offer and found a new, happy Heesen owner.”
This yacht, delivered in 2015 and originally named Ann G, represents the start of a fruitful collaboration between Heesen and the designer Clifford Denn. He penned lines that exude power and purpose up front, while the eyebrow aft and the two-tone paint job serve to soften the impact. Design features include a generous beach club aft with a bar, gym and hammam, as well as a raised spa pool with dramatic views on the sundeck. Her interior, by contrast, was designed in an art deco style by Reymond Langton Design. Stone mosaics, exquisite marbles and walnut and ebony cabinetry provide a palette of natural materials in a masculine, clubby style that contrasts with wonderful, embroidered panels.
Printemps (now Esra)
Recently changing hands in a private sale, 34.14m Printemps (ex-Wheels) is now cruising Turkish waters. The fast semi-displacement design was built in aluminium in 1987, and is capable of speeds up to 20 knots. She has a sleek exterior by Mulder and a homely, light wooden interior styled by H2 Yacht Design. She can accommodate 10 guests in 5 cabins.