Feadships & F1
The Grand Prix Historique and the F1 Grand Prix prove cars and yachts go hand in hand
Classic Feadships, vintage car racing, and the GP: two weekends in Monaco.
Don’t let anyone who regularly goes to the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Monaco tell you that because of the unique topography and track, the 20 cars roaring up Avenue d’ostende at the beginning of the race make it the most exhilarating and noisiest place on Earth. Because it’s not true. That crown belongs to the Grand Prix Historique, held two weeks earlier.
Those lucky enough to be around during the 1970s heyday of Formula 1 cars will remember the roar, making today’s engines look like they can barely muster a meow, and for those that can’t, the Grand Prix Historique is a unique event on the racing calendar which brings the past into the present.
Also enjoying the race in May this year were members of the Feadship Heritage Fleet, a member’s society for owners of classic Feadship yachts. Five yachts were present for this year’s race, all moored next to each other in prime location on the Tabac Corner.
“There is absolutely a link between those who like classic boats and those who like classic cars,” says Victor Muller, chairman of the Feadship Heritage Fleet. “Everybody comes here because they love to look at classic cars, and hear the sound of them.” The undeniable connection between the car and the yacht enthusiasts stems as much from an appreciation for traditional looks and engineering as a shared history. With all the classic Feadships present dating from 1963 through to 1972, watching the cars from their shared era race metres from their sterns has an almost surreal effect of bringing you back in time, and creates a sense of pride between those who know all about lovingly restoring a classic machine.
“The boats are in their natural habitat here,” says Muller. “We also have a yacht hop night where we visit each other’s yachts for cocktails, and the whole weekend is just a get together of like minded people who love their classic Feadships. And a few people who own Feadships but don’t have them here join us – as members they are very welcome on every yacht that’s here.”
For Rory Brooks, vice chairman of the Feadship Heritage Fleet and owner of Heavenly Daze, the location is also an important factor in the success of the weekend. “It’s a combination of things. It’s the shared interest of engineering, prestige, high-quality workmanship, the legacy between cars and boats, the community spirit, and the special atmosphere that is Monaco. I think the whole
combination just works together. That’s not to say that it couldn’t work somewhere else, but this is really the perfect place for it to work. This particular weekend is a very relaxed one, where you can get up close to the boats and the cars, and I think it creates a very nice atmosphere, which is important.”
The weekend is primarily, of course, a grand prix race. But Brooks insists that doesn’t stop the yachts feeling more than welcome. “There’s a shared sense of heritage and history between the cars and the boats, it’s a very good marriage of the two. It’s a good combination when you can celebrate both at the same time. I think that cars are very well celebrated, but boats less so, and I think that to get these beautiful Feadships together is a good start. I’ve even had a message from someone saying, ‘I’ve seen all your Feadships together on the television!’ It’s a nice way to attract attention and get people to realise that the old boats are as beautiful as the old cars.”
A couple of yachts down the quay is Serena, one of the more well known of the classic Feadships. Built in 1964, she was seen as the ultimate collaboration of Dutch quality and Italian style, with exterior lines by the inimitable Carlo Riva. “The 60s were of course a super interesting evolutionary period in design,” explains the Rembert Berg, the owner of Serena. “The transformation of everything through new technology made everything very different from what came before. It was about new materials, making things lighter and the science of aerodynamics, so the most valuable cars in the world are from that period. It was a transformation of everything: culture, music, freedom… It was post war. It was an explosion of energy that went in many different ways, and you can see it in the cars and the boats. It’s not so obvious in all boats but in some it is, I think in Serena it is. But that’s because of Riva, he gave her his magical touch. She’s different, she has a sparkle that’s very different, that I think only he could do at the time.”
Berg is himself a car enthusiast, so the weekend makes perfect sense for him. “The Historique has fantastic cars, so it’s nice to have it mixed up. I think there’s definitely a link between classic cars and classic boats, but the car community is obviously a hundred times bigger than the boating community. But if you look at what people are spending on cars, it’s incredible! I went to the auction yesterday and there were cars being sold for €10 million.”
For owners like Berg, the weekend is also an invaluable opportunity to talk to people about his yacht. “I’m always curious about the reactions we get when we’re here with the Feadship Heritage Fleet,” he says. “The people that walk by are so enthusiastic, we always get nice and positive reactions towards this small group of boats, often really interesting feedback or questions. I think people are really – more and more than say ten years go – understanding and appreciative of what it is, why it’s different and what it’s being done for. I will be interested to see how that
translates over the next ten years, and if the same will happen to boats as happened to cars of the 1960s, that you get this community that grows and grows. I think it might. I mean, everybody that comes on board – and they’re not saying this just to please me – says ‘Oh this is so much more warm and charming and different to any new boat.’ People just seem to be so impressed with it.”
Whilst there is certainly a yacht out there to suit everyone’s taste, it is obvious the Feadships provide a pretty fitting backdrop to the weekend’s races – the event just works. “One of the nicest parts of the weekend is to see the Feadship family and the other owners. There’s a warm feeling of a small select group, each sharing the experience in his own way. What we share is that we all feel more comfortable on a classic yacht,” says Berg.
It is a sentiment Muller agrees with. “I have been coming to the historic for two decades now and I think it’s such an elegant event. It’s the best of iconic motor racing in a venue which has historically been linked to motor racing. Which is extraordinary. So to be here is really nice and I just love the classic cars.” And from all the happy chatter and yacht hopping, it seems the company isn’t too bad either. “If you like boats like this, you invariably like art, planes, watches etc. We’re all from the same mould!” laughs Muller.
And that mould appreciates quality. “Feadships are like a Rolls-royce. Very few people throw a Rolls-royce away. You may find one that is not in the best condition, but they very rarely end up in a scrap yard, because there is someone who picks it up and gives it a lot of TLC. It is the same with Feadships. Some of them have been found derelict, but no one throws them away. Some of these yachts are a very good example of a beautifully restored, and now very modern, classic Feadship. The whole weekend is a good impression of what classic Feadships are all about.”
For Feadship itself, there is a large sense of pride in seeing their historic yachts moored on the same dock as their contemporary creations, with owners as passionate about the history of the yachts as Feadship are themselves. It’s a relationship that brings a synergy to the two worlds. “I remember at the Aalsmeer yard watching Henk de Vries, CEO of Feadship, stepping off his wooden sailing boat which was built by his great-uncle and his grandfather, and knowing that behind the wall they’re building a 90-metre steel superyacht!” says Brooks. “There’s a golden thread, a history and lineage that runs through all these boats, and I don’t think in the motor yacht world there’s anyone else who can put that kind of legacy together.”
“The whole combination just works. This is the perfect place for it”
“The racing brings Together a certain calibre of customer”
Yachts and fast cars clearly go together, and when the F1 Grand Prix and the biannual Historique Grand Prix arrive in Monaco, it’s a unique opportunity for yards and brokers to reach a wide spectrum of current and potential superyacht owners.
At Edmiston, an event during the Historique in its eleventh floor offices overlooking St Devote corner offers probably the best view of the Monaco track there is. Look right and you see the start line, look left and there is the infamous turn one in front of St Devote church, and straight ahead are the Chicane, Tabac and Piscine corners. It’s a gathering of industry professionals, car enthusiasts and yacht owners. “What I love about this weekend is the diversity,” says Cornelius Gerling, sales broker at Edmiston. “For us it’s a great chance to give back a little to our clients and the people we work with.” And as with the Feadship Heritage Fleet, the event brings the right audience to Monaco’s harbour. “We find it attracts the right kind of people,” says Gerling. “At the car auctions, the cars sell for millions of pounds. The drivers are often the owners, and they also own boats.”
The Monaco Grand Prix is in a league of its own in terms of status and attendance. Even for those who don’t follow the Formula 1 year, the Monaco Grand Prix is an important society event, and in the yachting industry, it is the traditional start of the summer Mediterranean season.
But what about those who have not yet experienced the world of yachts? It’s an audience that British yacht builder Princess Yachts is interested in. “The racing brings together a certain calibre of customer and what we’re trying to do is open up boating to people who don’t know about it currently,” says Kiran Haslam, marketing director at Princess. “There’s an incredible amount of people who want to enjoy themselves and who have the wealth and the time to do so, but they don’t seem to be entering the boating world. Instead, you’ve got quite an alienated industry by nature, because unless you’re in the know, boats are intimidating. We firmly believe that we’ve got to make an attempt to open the world of boating up to a much larger audience.”
For Princess, the 2016 Historique Grand Prix was a particularly positive experience. “The Historique attracts people who are fundamentally enthusiasts and who take great care and pride in things such as the provenance and what things mean; the value to them is far greater than the sum of its parts. The classic cars enthusiasts are a market
that work really well with yachts because you’ve got nonsensical, romantic, sensational behaviour towards prize possessions, and as we see from the races, we’ve got cars in excess of £20 million tearing round the race track. And the people who are tearing around the race track are passionate and willing to do things which are outside of their comfort zone, yet they don’t know enough about boating to consider that lifestyle as well. So it’s the perfect opportunity to connect with that audience and deliver a message about Princess and yachting in general.”
For Haslam, the best day of the racing month is the Saturday of the Historique. “It’s amazing being able to walk through the paddock area – that works well for a lot of our customers. The peak is the 1960s and 1970s Formula 1 cars, which are ear-splittingly loud, which sort of gets everyone feeling quite emotional, quite charged about the day. The weather is great and we’re in the offices overlooking the Tabac Corner and the main straight and finish line. It’s a great location and you’ve got all the boats opposite, which really reinforces the message that these are two worlds which very happily coexist.”
Two weeks later, the quiet is shattered again by the quarter of a million people who descend upon the Principality to watch the Formula 1. There are certainly similarities between the Historique and the F1 spectators, and a large portion come to watch both events, but there is something a little more flashy about the F1. The heels are higher, the music is louder and the parties go on later.
The track is unique on the racing circuit, and is universally loved by drivers and spectators alike. Last year’s upset with Lewis Hamilton was topped by this year’s upset with Daniel Ricciardo, and proof once again that the race is anyone’s for the taking right up until the moment the cars pass the chequered flag. It is unique on the calendar in terms of royal support as well – Prince Albert II is a fan and hands over the trophy to the winner.
Once the race is over, revellers spill onto the track to party the night away in one of many bars and nightclubs. The drivers tend to converge on the same places, the most popular of which is Amber Lounge. It’s famous for its after parties, and the guest list is a long line of famous actors, models and musicians. Amber Lounge kicks the parties off on the Friday night with a charity fashion show, which sees many of the drivers themselves take to the catwalk, and is followed by a charity auction. This year the event was raising money for The Amber Foundation, with Eddie Jordan giving the crowd an impassioned speech on how the charity helps the lives of homeless young adults. Jasmine Thompson was this year’s live musician, and sang her hits at the fashion show as well as the weekend after parties, supported by Parson James singing his hit with Kygo ‘Stole the Show’ to rapturous cheers from the crowd.
The difference between the two races can’t simply be put down to the different pace of the nightlife, but it is an indicator of the range of audiences Monaco draws over the surreal month of May. The Historique and F1 Grand Prixs capture the imaginations and emotions of an audience who are passionate and productive, energetic and enterprising, and well-suited to the yachting lifestyle. It’s why, whichever race takes your fancy, you will meet like-minded people, and a very full harbour. SYW
“The heels are higher, the music is louder, the parties go on later”
Main: During a break between races, guests on board Sultana enjoy lunch on the aft deck. During the races all yachts are required to move off the quay for safety reasons. Top left, left, below and right: The event is an homage to classic cars as they compete around the famous Monaco circuit. Far right: During the Feadship Heritage Fleet yacht hop evening a live band serenades the revellers on the sundeck.
Main: The view from the Edmiston offices shows the sheer volume of superyacht owners who choose to come to the Monaco Grand Prix. Top right: The F1 drivers star in the Amber Lounge catwalk fashion show.
Main: The Amber Lounge fashion show takes place in the grounds of the Meridien Beach Plaza. Left: F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo walks the catwalk. Below from left: Musician Akon looks on at the charity auction; F1 driver Nico Rosberg and his wife Vivian arrive at Amber Lounge on Sunday night; Retired F1 driver Eddie Irvine parties with friends. Bottom: Amber Lounge is famous for its late-night and celebritystudded after parties.