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West­ports have long been pop­u­lar among char­ter clients. Now the builder is open­ing a char­ter di­vi­sion.

With so many West­port yachts hav­ing earned fol­low­ings in the char­ter mar­ket, the builder is now open­ing a char­ter di­vi­sion of its own. The plan is to cre­ate a se­lect in-house fleet and to of­fer po­ten­tial buy­ers a chance to char­ter be­fore they pur­chase a new or bro­ker­age West­port.

AT FIRST, he didn’t want to share. ¶ The yachtsman had owned a 28-foot Chris-Craft as well as 64- and 95-foot Az­imuts, but at boat shows, he al­ways ad­mired the West­ports. He loved the speed and style of his own rides, but he craved more space, which he got with the im­pulse pur­chase of a West­port 40m at the 2014 Fort Laud­erdale In­ter­na­tional Boat Show. ¶ “We said we were go­ing to put her in char­ter,” he re­calls, “but once we got on her, I thought we wouldn’t. Why would I want strangers on my boat?” ¶ Like a lot of West­port own­ers, he soft­ened af­ter the first few years of own­er­ship, and he found a near horde of clients clam­or­ing to char­ter his yacht. Far Niente, dur­ing the first half of 2018, booked seven char­ters in six months. That’s more busi­ness than many yachts get in a year — a level that has kept own­ers of West­port 112s and 130s flush with rev­enue for years, and a mar­ket­place that the builder now hopes to tap into it­self. ¶ This past May, West­port an­nounced the cre­ation of a char­ter de­part­ment run by Kim Vick­ery, a long­time bro­ker who helped es­tab­lish the HMY Yachts char­ter di­vi­sion. West­port aims to cre­ate an in-house fleet that would-be buy­ers can try, and that fans of the brand can char­ter for fun. ¶ “Up un­til this point, it re­ally wasn’t a big thing un­less the po­ten­tial owner spoke about char­ter or tried to jus­tify the costs” of own­er­ship, says Ron Nu­gent, West­port’s di­rec­tor of mar­ket­ing. “We could tell him, ‘Yes, you can char­ter and get X amount,’ and we’d put them with some­body we were com­fort­able with in the in­dus­try. But now, we have so many po­ten­tial own­ers who want to char­ter, to try the boat out, that if Kim can put them on these boats, we have a way to try it.” ¶ As a bro­ker with other firms, Vick­ery says, she has booked 20 or 30 weeks of char­ter aboard West­ports, in­clud­ing plac­ing the first-ever char­ter aboard a West­port 164. While nearly two dozen of the smaller West­port mod­els are avail­able for char­ter, only a hand­ful of the 164s are ad­ver­tised. ¶ The West­port 164 Hos­pi­tal­ity, built in 2011, just joined that group, un­der the com­mand of Capt. Gavin Hurd. He says the owner plans to of­fer Hos­pi­tal­ity this win­ter in the Caribbean with


a 42-foot Yel­lowfin ten­der, and that the yacht is an ex­am­ple of how, while West­ports are se­ries builds, each one is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. ¶ Hos­pi­tal­ity was built so her orig­i­nal owner could cruise the world. “Her sta­bi­liz­ers are slightly over­sized, and she runs with four. That makes her ex­tremely sta­ble,” Hurd says. “She also can run at 15½ knots for cruis­ing. That’s ex­tremely com­fort­able. So many yachts out there are run­ning at 11 or 12 knots. I can kick in a turbo and get to 24 knots. We don’t run at that speed, but the old owner used to do 20, 21, and they went ev­ery­where from Nor­way to China to Aus­tralia.” ¶ The owner of Far Niente also sees his West­port 40m as hav­ing unique at­tributes for char­ter. Though he bought it af­ter the yard had built it on spec, he added cushy seat­ing around the sun-deck hot tub, a sit­ting and din­ing area at the Por­tuguese bridge, and beds that con­vert from twins to a king in one of the state­rooms, al­low­ing for char­ters with four cou­ples in­stead of three. ¶ And it doesn’t hurt that a lot of Far Niente’s char­ter clients want the types of toys that his fam­ily en­joys. ¶ “I just bought the Se­abobs a cou­ple of months ago — boy are they a hit,” he says. “My kids and I, we can’t stay off of them. And we have these turbo kayaks that you pedal, and we got the Ho­bie Mi­rage, which is like a pad­dle­board el­lip­ti­cal. It’s so much fun.” ¶ That’s the name of the char­ter game — fun — and West­port is ea­ger to in­tro­duce more peo­ple to it through its new di­vi­sion. ¶ “We’ve been talk­ing about this for the last three years,” Nu­gent says. “We know it’s go­ing to be great.”


Long­time bro­ker Kim Vick­ery will lead the new West­port char­ter de­part­ment.

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