It is no surprise that the concept of The Blue Economy is gaining traction at an accelerated pace as information on the health of our oceans becomes globalized and innovation creates new and improved ways of doing things. Innovation in the marine world is the catalyst for the rise of investment funds and portfolios targeted toward ocean-friendly solutions and investment opportunities that generate predictable income and have positive environmental and social impact. This mobilization of the global investment community is not only evidenced in typical industry sectors, but also in a sector that may not immediately come to mind: the yachting industry.

Behind the Image

The overall economic impact of the global yachting industry, yacht shows, and the diverse range of professional services that support them — including hospitality, luxury travel, culinary, and entertainment — is indisputable. The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show alone has a reported economic impact of more than $500 million per year, trumping what some host cities of the Super Bowl rake in. Hundreds of families in Bridgeport, CT, survived the economic downturn and remained employed during the construction of mega yacht Cakewalk V. The yachts themselves represent a complex floating incubator of technological amazement, futuristic design, engineering and sustainably resourced materials that create enormous opportunity for growth in an industry whose reputation is arguably tarnished by the inequity of the haves and have nots.

The sheer cost of buying and maintaining yachts creates a kind of class envy and leads to criticism of such supposed decadence, waste and pollution, despite the fact that the collective carbon and environmental footprint of private yachts is a fraction of one percent of the global total. The impact of private yachts pales in comparison to that of land-based structures, private aviation or luxury automobiles. Moreover, for many yacht owners, the amount they spend on this indulgence is minimal compared with their net worth and, importantly, their philanthropic endeavors. For example, Google CEO Larry Page’s $45 million yacht pales in comparison with his $33.3 billion net worth – and the $177 million in stock he donated in 2014. Microsoft co-founder
Paul Allen’s yacht, “Octopus,” cost more than $200 million, less than his annual charitable outlays.

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