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COMMENT


Happy Clapper or Gloomer, which one are you?


T


he end is in sight, they say. Just a few more weeks and it will all be over and the new normal will kick in. No one can argue that we need normal be it new or old, but the words ‘new-normal’ are just one of the many oddly sounding phrases that have emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic. Flattening the curve, no longer seems to mean getting rid of your beer belly and high risk is not just casino banter. Then there are the words that I have started to use to describe superyacht industry people during the crisis. These are Happy Clappers and Gloomers.


Happy Clappers are those who are pretending that Corona is a beer brewed in Mexico and that in reality, business for them is not really affected. Into this category we must add folk like the big boss of a major charter brokerage house who went on record with Forbes Magazine to claim; “Charter yachts are the perfect place on which to self-isolate,” while totally ignoring the fact that serving fat cats with cold drinks on the sundeck, puts yacht crews in the direct coughing line of fire. Then there is the shipyard chairman who said “I am confident, when this is all behind us, it will only have made us all more determined to ensure even more clients are out on the water enjoying their best life.” Others to be filed away under the Happy Clapper tab, are networking coordinators, seminar hosts and awards dinner presenters.


WINNERS


Among the winners in the Happy Clapper brigade are those large brokerage houses who have signed up a slew of superyacht owners into full management programmes. They can carry on charging their clients while they churn out sheets of instructions to yachts, telling crew all about social distancing and the need for constant washing of hands. Project managers overseeing new builds or refits are also winners. These brokerage houses win because fees generated keep the now dormant sales divisions out of trouble. The losers in this category are those who own franchises that allow them to sell and or charter yachts. These largely,


Captain Michael


Howorth looks for the winners and losers in the return to new normality following Covid -19


self-employed brokers have no salary and work on a commission only, eat what you kill policy. Despite them putting a brave face on things, the fact is, yachts are not being sold and nor are they being chartered. Boat show and awards event organisers will also lose out because, guess what? When the new normal gets going, many industry professionals will have realised that they survived the crisis without the need to attend multiple boat shows or pay a fortune to sit at a table full of award seeking colleagues eating poorly cooked food while listening to the same old acceptance speeches.


GLOOMERS Gloomers are those who suggest the world of superyachts will never recover because by the time we are all allowed to partake in on-board parties and sail-a-ways, the small impoverished suppliers will have all gone bust and will no longer be able to service the yachts, steam cleaning carpets, filling their wine cellars or fix the radars. Winners among those who I have called Gloomers, are true entrepreneurs. They may not be making money out of the industry at the moment and definitely will have experienced severe financial hardship, but they will rebound. A skilled cabinet maker does not lose his ability to rebuild the saloon during a refit.True he might have had to turn his hand to knocking out garden furniture to keep food on the table for his family, but his skills and superyacht experience will emerge post-crisis unscathed. I am not suggesting for a minute that recovery will be easy but almost certainly service providers and suppliers who do recognise that the new normal will be a different place, are those who are already beginning to adapt. Some of those new ways will be better and that can only be a good thing.


Unlike Happy Clappers, Gloomers are a category that breed losers. The good news is that, in the ‘new normal,’ they will have all gone bust and disappeared and the superyacht world will be a better place because of it. Does that make me a Happy Clapper?


ONBOARD | SPRING / SUMMER 2020 | 7


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