Yacht-Match is a yacht broker, dealer and service provider that is founded on a fundamentally different way of doing business.
Yacht-Match, Italia Yachts’ dealer for the UK, Scandinavia and Croatia, has a different philosophy from most. It was created seven years ago as a consultancy with the goal of better informing clients, in a transparent and informative manner. This process is intended to empower clients with the knowledge possessed by seasoned yacht owners. It’s a fundamentally different way of doing business from the manner in which most boats are sold.
The firm was borne of a growing frustration that a service better suited to the needs of prospective boat buyers was not available. This led two long standing industry professionals with different backgrounds to start Yacht-Match seven years ago.
Dirk Agter and Viktor van Savooyen originally met when one was working for a charter management firm, buying up to 100-150 boats a year, and the other for a large German boat builder. They quickly realised both had a similar vision for how things should be done and became business partners in an organisation that has grown rapidly and now has offices in five European countries, plus another in Doha.
At the core is still a client centric consultancy that takes time to understand each client’s needs and aspirations. Once those are firmly established they can search for the right boat, with the right setup and equipment. ‘Our service is what we sell,’ says Agter, ‘and if your service is good clients will keep returning.’
Italia Yachts builds on its success
The nature of boat sales is such that it’s not uncommon for dealers to overstate a raceboat’s potential to clinch a deal. However, when it comes to the best designs it’s always possible to let others do the talking.
When Terry Hutchinson, for instance, described the Italia 11.98 as ‘an ORC rocketship’ in the October issue of Seahorse he may have raised some eyebrows. Yet his experience racing one on the NYYC “cruise” – a week of passage races from New York city to Newport, RI – merely represents another victory on a growing list of impressive results. These include two ORC World Championship wins – an achievement also matched by the smaller Italia 9.98. It’s an outstanding record for a boat builder that was founded only 12 years ago.
The first race-optimised Italia Yachts 12.98 Fuoriserie model will hit the water this season and it is expected to be a potent weapon under both IRC and ORC rating systems.
Italia Yachts is rapidly gaining recognition in the racing world. Until recently it was a very small yard producing only a handful of boats every year, but that’s changing following a move of the production facility to Fano in the heart of Italy’s main boatbuilding region. The new premises have enough capacity to build 35 boats per year, with large and small vessels able to progress through manufacture at different rates.
A further advantage of having all production, including small GRP parts, under one roof is that quality control is optimised, a benefit that stretches across every aspect of the boat, including its structure, fit out and system installations.
The next Italia model destined to become a star on the racecourse is the Maurizio Cossutti-designed 12.98, a fast yet civilised racer-cruiser.
As with all the best yachts, Cossutti was given free rein to produce an optimal hull shape. It was then the task of renowned interior designer Mirko Arbore to create a comfortable, yet lightweight interior that makes best use of the volume available.
A lot of effort was made to reduce wetted surface area to promote the light airs performance that is so often a deciding factor in offshore races, especially in summer. This includes a relatively narrow beam which helps make this a very slippery design. At the same time an efficient keel profile allied to a 2.46m draught and healthy ballast ratio provides ample righting moment when needed in stronger breezes. The large rudder is tucked well forward, where it operates clear of the disturbed water near the transom, giving easy control and a great feel on the helm.
The Fuoriserie model retains the general three cabin interior layout of the Bellissima ultra-fast cruising version, but with important weight saving measures, including fewer lockers and no teak deck, resulting in an important weight saving of around 1,000kg. The result is a hugely appealing dual-purpose yacht with stunning lines. It’s less pure racer than the smaller Matteo Polli-designed models in the range, but at this size it’s one that has every chance of success on the racecourse. Adding the expertise and unrivalled support of Yacht-Match to the equation gives a very strong combination.
Over time the firm’s activities have widened with three additional branches covering Yachts and Brokerage, Sustainable Solutions and Charter and Management. In addition to Italia Yachts, it’s also an official representative for Nautitech and ItaCatamarans.
‘We have chosen to represent certain shipyards because they were the preferred choice of our customers, they produce yachts with best-in-class sailing qualities, and their values aligned perfectly with the principles upheld by Yacht-Match,’ says Viktor Van Savooyen. ‘This strong alignment led to a flourishing partnership that eventually resulted in these agreements and every shipyard we represent shares four fundamental values.
‘They uphold a well-organised and structured approach. They are relatively small businesses, ensuring our clients receive a personal approach with direct communication with the builders, allowing for customisations and personalised features. They also have a clear and promising vision for the future. The quality of their yacht construction is exceptional and they build their boats in Europe, adhering to rigorous environmental and workers’ standards.’
From the outset Agter and van Savooyen also recognised that boat ownership is more complex than simply choosing the right boat with the right equipment. The yacht management side of the business deals with everything from berthing and registration to on-going maintenance and preparation of the yacht so that it’s always immaculately prepared before use.
It’s this philosophy that enables Yacht- Match to turn the regatta aspirations of amateur owners into a reality, thanks to the full-service support and resources it provides to overcome the challenges of campaigning in regattas.
A dedicated technical team, composed of experts in ORC and IRC regulations and regattas, assists owners and teams in their quest for regatta success. They can help train crew and fine-tune manoeuvres, sails, appendages and boat setup, reaching peak performance quickly while making the most of the available resources. The service package’s main features include a dedicated race team manager responsible for event logistics, crew coordination, and support during racing events.
This regatta management programme is a natural spinoff from Yacht-Match’s roots, facilitating and enhancing the experience for a wide range of raceboat owners. It also gives access to Squadra Corse, Italia Yachts’ technical and managerial team dedicated to supporting owners of Fuoriserie models configure their boats and providing follow up support.
‘Owners of racing yachts can encounter many hurdles that we can help them overcome,’ says Agter. This starts with identifying the right boat and configuration for each client’s programme. Then the boat is commissioned with the high level of attention to detail that’s essential for a successful racing campaign.
Yacht-Match can also help owners directly with their campaign, including advice on which events they may want to compete in, making sure the boat is ready to sail before each one, and finding crew. ‘These can all be daunting tasks for any owner,’ says van Svooyen, ‘especially if they live several hours from the boat.’
Agter points to an example of a firsttime owner with an Italia 9.98 in the Stockholm area. They recognised that managing the project could be seriously time consuming and stressful, with a risk of making mistakes while learning, so asked Yacht-Match to take on that role.
As a multinational organisation Yacht- Match is also well placed to facilitate participation in events overseas, without the downtime, hassle and expense associated with shipping a yacht to different destinations. ‘If someone owns an Italia 9.98 in Scandinavia, for instance, we could arrange a similar boat for events in other regions, such as Hamble in the UK and Split in Croatia,’ says Agter.’
Addressing the lack of a pool of talented and trained crew is potentially a more difficult problem to solve, but that hasn’t stopped Yacht-Match developing effective strategies to tackle the issue.
They work with the Swedish Sailing Federation, for instance, to create an Offshore Youth Academy that draws a broad spectrum of talented and enthusiastic boys and girls, men and women, including those from Olympic and smaller keelboat classes.
It’s an inclusive programme with training costs mostly covered by Yacht-Match and other sponsors. Following meetings with local sailing clubs, Yacht-Match is also developing similar programmes for the Hamble and Split areas.
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