Thrill seeker Jimmy Mistry collects super bikes and big cars. But the exhilaration of a non-stop, high-speed ride is not always possible on Mumbai’s roads. So a few months ago, the architect bought himself a Sea Ray 175 Sport for the “thrill of air-flies and jerks” on the sea. “Getting a boat was an extension of my passion for automobiles,” he says. Now weekends are spent exploring the bay, at the Elephanta Caves and speeding off to Mandwa, the gateway to Alibaug. “The rougher the waters, the greater the thrill,” he says.
Indian Empress, Vijay Mallya’s Rs450 crore super yacht, lords over the harbour when it’s docked in Mumbai. Yet, zipping across the bay or spending the weekend on water should not remain the sole purview of the swish set—and that’s what the Samira International Boat Show is aiming for.
Vijay Mallya’s Rs450 crore super yacht is a venue for many of his parties
More than 60 exhibitors and 120 international brands will show their stuff at the second international boat show to be held in Mumbai’s Bandra-Kurla complex from 28 February to 2 March. In addition to 20 luxury yachts, ranging from 35ft to 100ft, visitors will be able to see a variety of boats from kayaks to plush houseboats. Prices start from as little as Rs40,000 for kayaks and go up to crores of rupees. There is even a joint ownership programme for five or six budding sailors to part-own a single boat. So, you don’t have to be a real estate magnate to snag one for yourself.
Leisure boating is still in the nascent stage in Mumbai; according to India Boating magazine figures, there are about 200 boats in the Mumbai harbour.
Most are powerboats that owners use to zip across to Mandwa and escape to Alibaug for a quiet weekend. About 30 others are sailing boat dinghies owned by the Royal Bombay Yacht Club, Colaba Sailing Club and Bombay Sailing Boat Association. “Then there’s the 40 years-plus club of people who own big yachts like the Azimut and Ferretti. There are 15 such luxury yachts here right now and the number is growing,” says Chohan. One such beauty is Gautam Singhania’s custom-built 45ft yacht Ashena, which is anchored in Dubai but is scheduled to arrive in the city soon. Vishal Chaudhry, director of Aquamarine Leisure, distributors of Princess Yachts, didn’t have much to show in terms of sales at last year’s show—but in the subsequent months he has closed the sale of a Princess 61, priced at about Rs7.5 crore. Besides this, he is about to close deals on smaller models such as the Princess 42 and 50, costing between Rs2 crore and Rs5 crore, and the 95, for about Rs24 crore.
Chaudhry is looking forward to a more exciting show this year. “Goa is an upcoming market for smaller boats. People buy boats in conjunction with their property,” he says. And according to him, it’s easy to learn to maintain a smaller boat like a 42 or 50 footer, which makes it a good buy for beginners. “The price is right and you don’t need a full-time crew to maintain it,” says Chaudhry, who wants to buy one for himself soon.
Gautam Singhania’s Ashena was built in Gujarat
A Mumbai-based jeweller, who did not wish to be named, bought himself a Rs2 crore Larson Cabrio 350 two months ago. He takes the 35 feet cabin cruiser out to the Elephanta Caves for a Sunday family breakfast or even a mid-week view of the sunset. Getting to his weekend home in Alibaug is more convenient now for the south Mumbai resident. His wife, a fan of the seas, says: “Ours is a harbour city and there’s so much joy in seeing the coastline. There are problems still, but we have given our boat to an agency to maintain.”
Mallya doesn’t have it so tough. The Indian Empress came with a ready 32-person crew. But, according to Ashim Mongia, managing director, West Coast Marine, the number of marinas and parking infrastructure will have to improve before more people invest in boats. At Samira, his company will showcase the Majesty 66, a 66ft yacht worth more than Rs5 crore. They will also have smaller boats by Northstar, starting at 11ft.
“We don’t need fancy marinas, but it’s a shame that we don’t even have a jetty,” says Mistry, who has 24-hour help and a dinghy driver to take care of his boat. “You may own a multi-crore yacht, but even if you’re Adi Godrej or Vijay Mallya, you’ll still have to hop from the ramp to the yacht,” he laughs.
Anju Datta of Marine Solutions, dealers in Ferretti and Pershing as well as other brands, was at the Genoa boat show recently. She regularly takes clients from India to private boat shows abroad and, in April, she will take a group to Italy for a Ferretti boat show. According to Datta, this market has the potential of going the car market way.
“Like Ferretti is described as the Rolls Royce of boats, you have boats of every level, from a Bentley to a Tata. And like cars, people like to update their boats. Soon, there’ll be a market for second-hand boats, too,” says Datta, who recently updated her Sea Ray to a Vietnam-made 33 footer Mercury boat. Her advice to beginners is to go for the Tata of boats: the American made Sea Ray or one of the Gulf-made boats by Gulf Craft. “The 30 footers start at Rs40 lakh and are perfect for those with houses in Alibaug,” she adds.