Simpson Marine Search Yachts
21st May 2020

Sales Manager Series: Julien Solari, Singapore Sales Manager

In the latest of our new blog series, we have been talking to some of our regional Country Managers and Sales Managers, who oversee Simpson Marine’s operations in our hubs throughout Asia. Each brings extensive yachting experience, inspirations and aspirations to their role, helping to grow their local boating scenes with passion and dedication.

Today we meet Julien Solari, Singapore Sales Manager, for 13 quick fire questions and an e-coffee. Enjoy meeting Julien and getting to knowing the Simpson Marine team better. If you would like to hear more from Julien, please send us any questions you would like him to answer for you.

Q: How long have you been with Simpson Marine?
A: It has been two and a half years. I joined in September 2017 and started at the Cannes Yachting Festival, where I met a few brokers from the team before moving out to Singapore.

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in yachting? 
A: I’ve always loved yachts and used to sail quite a lot when I was a kid as my family always had boats. I then bought my first boat, a 30ft Bayliner, when I was 22 years old with two friends. I spent all my weekends cruising around South of France, where I saw all the beautiful superyachts. A friend from a big brokerage house told me that I should join the industry as I had a good education and I spoke several languages. Which I did. I sold my first superyacht, a 28m (92ft) Guy Couach, after just four months. Now I couldn’t imagine myself in any other industry.

Q: What was your first memory when it comes to yachting?
A: I would say the first time I crossed from France to Corsica with my uncle on his sailing yacht. I was around seven or eight years old and I was so excited about it that I couldn’t sleep that night. I stayed with my uncle in the cockpit and was amazed by the calm around us. The icing on the cake was the sunrise in the middle of nowhere before seeing the Corsican coast on the horizon. A fantastic experience!

Q: In your opinion, what are the key essentials that potential buyers should consider before purchasing a yacht?

  • Buying a yacht is like art or with a woman, you need to feel a special connection at first sight.
  • There are so many things to look at when you buy a boat, it is hard to pick just a few. It mostly depends on what type of boat you are looking for and, more importantly, if you want to buy new or brokerage.
  • The build process of a new yacht is a great experience, especially when it comes to Sanlorenzo and their ‘made-to-measure’ approach. It is really like designing your own floating luxury home, where you can choose any material and furniture etc.
  • When it comes to brokerage, it will depend on whether you feel comfortable about buying a boat in top, average or modest condition. You have every type of buyer on the market. Depending on what you are after your broker will put together a market analysis for the type of boat/brand/model you like and for the budget you are willing to spend.
  • For most yachts, especially above 50-60ft, I would always advise a buyer to use a surveyor to do a “health check-up”. A surveyor will look at the engine room, bilges, test the equipment, etc. This will give buyers a clear picture of the boat’s current condition.
  • Some brokers will say that the essential things to consider about a boat are the age and the engine hours, etc. This is partly true but this can really depend on the level of the care she had from her previous owner(s).
  • Many clients think that you can buy most yachts 30, 40 even 50% below the asking price; that’s not true. There is always a negotiation margin, but if the boat is in good condition and rightly priced, this margin will likely only come down to 10-15%.

Q: What are some of your favourite islands around your country (Singapore) that you personally like boating to?

A: Singapore’s waters are quite limited so, like most boaters here, for a short trip I go often to St John and Lazarus Islands with my wife and friends. But, if you decide to go out for the weekend or a few days, you have plenty of nice islands on offer in the south of Bintan, like Nikoi or Pangkil, but also Tioman in Malaysia.

Q: What is your favourite spot on board a yacht?
A: The flybridge has always been my favourite place. It offers 360° views, is a great entertainment spot and is higher for jumping into the water!

Q: What are some of your favourite boating activities? 

  • I love water toys, I used to do a lot of jet skiing when I was younger and I had the chance to try a jet surfboard last summer in the Med and that was super fun.
  • When at anchor in beautiful crystal-clear waters I enjoy snorkeling. I was in the Komodo Islands last November and it was amazing to swim with giant turtles, stunning manta rays and millions of fish around me.
  • Reading a book or Boat International magazine is always on my list.
  • Last but not least, playing backgammon with a nice glass of wine while enjoying the sunset.

Q: Can you share with us your favourite yachting photo and explain the story behind it?

A: The photo below is with my best friends on a fantastic 82ft Royal Huisman named S/Y VOLADOR in St Tropez. We chartered this yacht for four days for a bachelor weekend in 2017. We were picked up from a private beach in St Jean Cap Ferrat after lunch, sailed to Monaco and then on to Cannes where we spent the first night at anchor. Next day we sailed to St Tropez, went into town for dinner and came back to the yacht. The next day we sailed back to Villefranche-sur-mer, stopping in the Esterel for a swim. We lived the dream on a luxury sailing yacht for several days, enjoying all those glamourous places with friends. This was a truly amazing trip!

Q: What is the most unforgettable yacht sale you have been involved in with Simpson Marine? And why?
A: I would say the Lagoon 630 that I sold last September. Firstly, because this yacht is a great platform for enjoying the sea. With a 10m beam, she has an internal volume comparable to a 90ft+ motor yacht, as well as fantastic outdoor entertainment spaces in both the aft and forward cockpits, but also on a very generous flybridge. She also has a great range which is a real plus in South East Asia. And secondly, because you sometimes have an immediate connection with a client and this was the case with this owner. He is real gentleman and a very inspiring person. It was a pleasure to assist him throughout the purchase process and I hope we will be able to work together again in the coming years.

Q: What are your top three ‘must-haves’ for a boat trip?

  • A sun protection kit (sun cream, sun glasses and hat) is essential
  • Your friends and family
  • Boat International magazine [and of course a backgammon set]

Q: How does Singapore yachting lifestyle differs from where you come from?

A: In so many ways! I would say that French Riviera is at the heart of the yachting culture, with Monaco, Nice, Cannes, Antibes and St Tropez. Most of the world’s largest superyachts are either based there or will spend a couple of months there during the summer season. Antibes is Europe’s largest pleasure port and we all like to hop on a boat during weekends and enjoy the yachting lifestyle. Because of the seasonality in Europe, most people don’t go boating from October to March, so as soon as the spring arrives we are all super enthusiastic to play on the sea.

In Singapore, I can see that more and more people are chartering boats with family,  friends or for some corporate events. During weekends, you often see the charter catamarans going out two or three times a day, which is great. We have also had a good volume of transactions in the past few years meaning that more and more Singaporeans and expats are enjoying the yachting lifestyle. A very positive aspect in Singapore is that, thanks the climate, you can enjoy your yacht all year long and the sea is almost always warm and pleasant.

Q: What do you envision for Singapore’s yachting scene in the next 5 years?

  • I see a bright future for Singapore in terms of yachting, especially if they find a way to ease the check in/check out protocols with Indonesia. There are plenty of nice islands that are about an hour from here and it would be great to go there for the day without losing too much time on immigration procedures.
  • From an infrastructure standpoint, One15 is currently reconfiguring the pontoons and this will improve the overall quality of the marina. At Simpson Marine, we have just moved into a brand new office on Quayside Isle, with the Sanlorenzo SEA flagship designed by Piero Lissoni. I look forward to the completion of the superyacht quay, which I’m sure will boost the superyacht activity in the region.
  • I hope that we will see a significant growth in the 70-100ft market in the next two to three years. This is a key segment to develop if we then want to see an expansion of the superyacht market (30m+) in Singapore. We are very positive that this will be the case and, with Sanlorenzo, we have the best shipyard to assist clients in building their “home on the sea”.

Q: Which yacht model are you most looking forward to hopping on board of, and why?
A: During the 2019 Monaco Yacht Show, I had the opportunity to view and sea trial the new Bluegame BGX 70 and I was literally amazed by this yacht. It is a very stylish yacht, with refined interiors and unique exterior lines, including a great beach club that allows it to carry many water toys. We have one model ready in the shipyard and, as we haven’t sold one yet in Asia, I really hope a Singapore based client will move forward with it as I look forward to welcoming this boat model into our marina, so I can hopefully sea trial the boat with the owner and enjoy some days at sea with him and his family.

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