NextWave Yachting is preparing to open a new showroom in Repulse Bay following its appointment as the exclusive Sunseeker dealer for Hong Kong. Now employing about 50 staff, NextWave has a sales office in Club Marina Cove in Sai Kung to the east, an administration office in Kwai Fong to the west, and a Kwun Tong service facility in Kowloon Bay.
However, to represent one of the world’s most famous motor yacht brands, NextWave has targeted Hong Kong Island’s glamorous south side, where it’s creating a Sunseeker showroom at The Pulse in Repulse Bay.
“This is a very exciting time for us. Sunseeker is one of the biggest yacht brands around the globe, so we feel truly fortunate and honoured to be appointed as the official dealer in Hong Kong,” says Frankie Chau, one of a group of friends who co-founded NextWave in March 2012 to turn their love of life on the water into a business.
“The theme of our showroom is to create a ‘Seek More’ Sunseeker experience with new technologies. We aim to bring the feel, sound and smell of being onboard a Sunseeker to our showroom. Repulse Bay always reminds me of Cannes in the south of France, with its heritage, beautiful beach and restaurants with amazing views.
“The Pulse is a popular hangout spot and tourist attraction. The beach is the place to be seen or show off and is crowded with yachts. The pier is perfect for boarding and links the water and on-land activities. I can’t think of a better location for our Sunseeker office in Hong Kong.”
NextWave’s expansion is not stopping there, as the company is also looking to acquire a shipyard to strengthen its yacht management and services division. Currently, its service work is carried out on its barge in Kwun Tong and with partners around Hong Kong. “It would be beneficial to own a shipyard as a base to provide service more promptly and efficiently,” Chau says.
BROTHERS AND FRIENDS
NextWave is unusual in the sense that it has a team of leaders. Chau, who has a Master’s degree in Corporate Finance and Accounting, is the company’s CFO and also manages sales and marketing. CEO Howard Chen has a background in mechanical engineering and project management, while the entrepreneurial Raymond Sze, a former restaurateur in the US, heads Business Development.
Conrad Chau, Frankie’s younger brother, owns a shipyard and a theming construction company in China, while William So, who has a background in finance and F&B, is an avid wakesurfer who has helped NextWave grow its market-leading water toys division.
Sales Director Jeffrey Chan, who has a finance and investment background, has enjoyed boating and watersports since a young age, and is an experienced JetSurf racer who competed in MotoSurf WorldCup series events in 2017 and 2018.
“NextWave is run by a group of young veterans, who are passionate about the yachting industry,” says Chau, who emphasises that the company has never strayed from its DNA of ensuring clients have as much fun on the water as they do. “We are lucky to have a group from diverse backgrounds and each of us brings expertise to the business in a very dynamic way.”
SUNSEEKER’S NEW MODELS
Having started as a dealer for Sealine, NextWave has expanded its portfolio of brands from across Europe and the USA over the past nine years. At the same time, it has developed multiple business divisions including brokerage, after-sales and maintenance, charter, crew services, a remarkable water toys division and more recently a thriving yacht-management division.
Chau says the company’s all-round offering made it appealing to Sunseeker, which has a rich history in Hong Kong, where it’s one of the most established luxury motor yacht brands.
“Over the nine years since NextWave was founded, our company has transformed from a single-brand dealership into a full-fledged yachting solution provider,” he says. “All these functions within our
company creates a massive synergy that allows us to share resources among our departments, which translates to value for our clients and now all Sunseeker owners.”
Chau is also excited about the timing of the Sunseeker appointment, which comes on the heels of the British builder’s announcement of a £38 million (about US$53 million) investment in new product development, which will expand its selection of models to 22 by 2023.
Sunseeker, which builds from 38-161ft across six ranges, is kicking off this year with the release of its ‘Famous Five’ new models – Manhattan 55, Predator 55 EVO, 65 Sport Yacht, 88 Yacht and
90 Ocean. The Manhattan 55 follows the design and styling of the Manhattan 68 in Sunseeker’s classic flybridge range, while the 55 EVO follows the 60 EVO in the iconic Predator range.
The 65 Sport Yacht complements the 74 in a range distinguished by a dynamic new sportbridge, while the 88 Yacht and 90 Ocean are distinct offerings in the larger Yacht range, both featuring Sunseeker’s automated X-Tend aft sunbeds. Furthermore, all new models are benefiting from fresh interior designs and a new level of detailing and interior craftsmanship.
“Sunseeker leads the market from 50-100ft, the mainstream range for the Hong Kong market, which has resulted in the brand’s consistent growth in sales here all these years. Now, with these new models, Sunseeker is again pushing forward and we believe local buyers will appreciate the new designs,” Chau says.
“Traditionally, flybridge yachts are most appealing to Hong Kong buyers because of space and versatility, so we have high expectation for the new Manhattan 55. However, the Predator line-up has also been hugely popular because of their sporty and sleek design, which Sunseeker is well known for.”
MASTERFUL MANHATTAN 68
However, the first Sunseeker that the dealer is bringing to Hong Kong is the first Manhattan 68 featuring the new ‘Pacific’ layout, a new configuration designed by the shipyard in collaboration with NextWave.
The Manhattan flagship debuted at Boot Dusseldorf last year, where it showed off a new-look Beach Club with a huge sea-facing locker with racks for storing water toys plus an easy-access storage area for two Seabobs with charging docks.
The unit heading for Hong Kong features revised main and lower decks. On the main deck, the aft dining area has a more flexible setup to further connect it to the cockpit. Forward, the saloon features much more seating with two facing C-shaped sofas, instead of one starboard sofa facing the TV and private stairs to the master cabin in the standard version.
Instead of four cabins on the lower deck, the ‘Pacific’ layout features a forward VIP, a starboard guest cabin and an enormous master suite made up of a full-beam bedroom and a lounge occupying the space previously used for the port twin.
“The Pacific layout offers an exceptional amount of space for a boat of this size,” Chau says. “It strikes a perfect balance between ample social spaces for entertaining and generous private quarters.
The master cabin benefits from its own private lounge and bar, a relaxing retreat for the owner.”
Considering Sunseeker’s increasing emphasis on waterside entertaining and access, NextWave’s distributorship of some of the world’s most exciting water toys creates a nice synergy. Its best-selling products include the world-famous Seabob, Lift eFoil hydrofoil surfboards, JetSurf motorised surfboards, and Aquaglide and Yachtbeach ocean pools that attach to a yacht’s swim platform.
NextWave said its sales of the Lift eFoil soared last year and expects the hydrofoil surfboard to continue to be the company’s bestselling toy following the launch of the brand’s new E3 third-generation models.
The company also rates JetSurf’s new Titanium DFI 2021 as “the most powerful and reliable model in the world of motorised surfing” and highlight’s the new Electric model, a fully electric alternative to the brand’s petrol-powered boards. And it doesn’t end there. NextWave is also a distributor for Belassi jetskis, JetXTender, Oxoon and Scubajet.
Best demonstrated by Jeffrey Chan’s MotoSurf WorldCup experience, most of NextWave’s founders and division staff are familiar with the water toys they sell and frequently use the products, so are in a good position to advise yacht owners.
“Our staff in the water toys department are passionate and familiar with our products. Testing and training with the range means we can see and feel the full capabilities of each product and how they vary. Our customers appreciate that because we always provide a fun experience with their friends and family,” says Chau, who confirms that many buyers seek personal tutorials on using the products.
“Our training sessions are included with any new purchase, so each owner can learn the best and safest ways to enjoy their product and understand all the functions. This enables each owner to maximise their experience on the water and make the most out of every product’s features.”
BRANDS AND SERVICES
Chau admits Sunseeker is now NextWave’s key brand for new yacht sales, yet Sealine remains a key brand in its portfolio, offering models ranging from 34-53ft designed by Bill Dixon. NextWave has represented the brand since 2012, a year before the British builder was acquired by Germany’s HanseYachts AG, which also owns Fjord, another of NextWave’s key brands.
“NextWave has a full range of models to enable customers to move up to bigger sizes. Sealine specialises in building spacious family-style yachts with innovative design. The brand covers a size range that many first-time boat owners are keen on, so this complements Sunseeker’s range from over 50ft,” Chau says.
“Fjord builds industry-leading luxury pleasure powerboats. With a strong demand for luxury tenders from bigger Sunseeker yacht owners, Fjord becomes an ideal option to cater their needs.”
NextWave’s portfolio also includes Bavaria (Germany), Chris-Craft (USA), Heyday Wake Boats (USA) and Vanquish (Netherlands).
While the new Sunseeker appointment will raise the profile of NextWave’s new yachts division, the company has traditionally prospered due to its variety of businesses, so higher-performing sectors can compensate for under-performing ones in any particular year.
Last year, NextWave had its best-ever year for brokerage sales, selling 22 yachts for a record year in revenue, while its yacht-management and water toys departments also thrived due to Covid encouraging people in Hong Kong to spend more time with friends and family on the water.
“We had one of our best years in 2020, as our yacht sales, yacht management and water toys departments thrived,” Chau says.
“With the social-distancing measures and restrictions on travel and entertainment venues, people realised owning a yacht is the best way to safely enjoy family time, which led to demand to own a yacht. However, Covid slowed production at European builders and delayed stock delivery, lengthening the lead time for new yachts, so pre-owned yachts increased in popularity.”
The same reasons that drove people to buy yachts also led to a charter boom in the second quarter of the year before a ‘third wave’ of Covid in Hong Kong then dramatically reduced yacht hire during its traditional peak season in the summer.
“When the ‘second wave’ of Covid alleviated in May, all of our chartered boats were fully booked for weekends until August,” Chau says. “Unfortunately, everything halted with the ‘third wave’ that started in July. The measures and bans by the government resulted in zero business for what could have been a profitable summer, not only for us but for most charter companies in Hong Kong.”
Like brokerage, the yacht-management department had its best-ever year and NextWave expects it to continue growing. Before NextWave launched the division, Chau admitted to being sceptical of its worth, but by providing clients with tailored, hassle-free ownership, it has proven to be one of NextWave’s anchor operations.
“Our yacht-management clients are very satisfied with our services, so most of our new customers are referrals by existing ones. We provide a one-stop-shop to cater to all the needs of an owner,” Chau says.
“Yacht management is gaining in popularity as it’s a proven model for maintaining a boat’s condition and eventually a solid resale value. With more owners upgrading to bigger yachts, I envision a strong demand for professional, value-added yacht management, so I think this division will continue to have organic growth in the coming years.”