Superyacht Influencer Interview: Y.CO Cofounder Gary Wright Explains The ‘Secret’ to Buying, Selling And Chartering Superyachts

Y.CO manages every aspect of superyacht yacht ownership
Y.CO

After cycling thousands of miles to the Monaco Yacht Show from London to raise money for the Blue Marine Foundation over the last four years, I’ve been honored to forge relationships with some of the world’s most interesting people. That’s partly because, let’s face it, you have to be a bit “interesting” to think riding a bicycle hundreds of miles from London to Monaco every September is fun. But the main reason is simply this: superyachts are sexy, and the superyacht industry attracts “interesting” people from all over the world. 

And the “secrets” I’ve learned about building, owning and chartering some of the world’s largest yachts from the interesting people I’ve met on the ride are priceless. So, my latest influencer interview features someone who has done the whole ride several times! Gary Wright is the co-founder and chairman of Y.CO (one of the world’s leading superyacht management, sales and charter companies). And as you’ll see, Wright knows the superyacht industry inside and out because he’s been managing the complicated logistics required of buying, selling, owing or chartering a superyacht for decades.

“I've worked in yachting all my life,” he tells me on the first morning of the Monaco Yacht Show. “I was a yacht captain and ran big boats with lots of crew. Then I worked for a couple of guys who decided they wanted to do the America's Cup. So, they convinced me to get off yachts, and go and run their Cup program in New Zealand for the 2003 Cup. 

“After the Cup, my business partner Charlie Birkett and I tried to predict the future a bit. I had lot of experience running big, complicated yacht programs and we knew some yacht owners who needed help managing their yachts. So, in 2004, we started managing four or five yachts for people we knew, and we built the company on that. Turns out our timing was pretty good.

“All owners have the same concerns,” he continues. “How do I hire a crew? How do I pay them? What's the most tax efficient way of doing this? How do I budget for the boat? How do I get reports on those budgets?

“Today we manage about a hundred yachts. We moved into sales because when you're working with somebody, and they want to sell their yacht, or they want to buy another yacht, they come to you because they know you and most importantly, they trust you. We're managing new construction projects for owners in Germany, Holland and Italy too.

“Many of our new clients get interested in yachts after they’ve visited many of the world’s most exclusive resorts. So, they come to us with some pretty high expectations. And we make sure they come back after their first charter and say ‘That was amazing. I want to do it next year.’

“Then that same happy client comes back for a few years in a row and says, ‘Can get a yacht for Christmas in the Caribbean?’ And then he soon realizes, ‘We're spending $500,000 a year chartering, or more, maybe $800,000! What if we bought a boat? And you manage it for us?’

“That’s how it starts,” he continues. “Since we work hard to know every aspect of buying, owning, and chartering superyachts, we give prospective owners real numbers to think about. And we’re realistic about potential costs and charter income. Often, it doesn't matter how wealthy owners are. Since all have reached a certain level of success in business and in life, having professionals run their yacht as a business makes perfect sense.”  

But unlike most businesses that exist simply to make money for owners and shareholders, Wright makes it clear with all his clients that it’s pretty rare to make profit from owning a large yacht. But that’s when his eyes really light up.

He knows you can’t really put a price tag on owning or chartering a large yacht because he’s seen the joy, togetherness, relaxation and connection to the natural world and yes, luxury, his clients enjoy on their yachts.

So, it turns out his Wright’s “secret” isn’t really a secret after all. 

Of course, owning or chartering a superyacht costs lots of money. But it’s worth it…as long as you have the right team managing the process.

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After cycling thousands of miles to the Monaco Yacht Show from London to raise money for the Blue Marine Foundation over the last four years, I’ve been honored to forge relationships with some of the world’s most interesting people. That’s partly because, let’s face it, you have to be a bit “interesting” to think riding a bicycle hundreds of miles from London to Monaco every September is fun. But the main reason is simply this: superyachts are sexy, and the superyacht industry attracts “interesting” people from all over the world. 

And the “secrets” I’ve learned about building, owning and chartering some of the world’s largest yachts from the interesting people I’ve met on the ride are priceless. So, my latest influencer interview features someone who has done the whole ride several times! Gary Wright is the co-founder and chairman of Y.CO (one of the world’s leading superyacht management, sales and charter companies). And as you’ll see, Wright knows the superyacht industry inside and out because he’s been managing the complicated logistics required of buying, selling, owing or chartering a superyacht for decades.

“I've worked in yachting all my life,” he tells me on the first morning of the Monaco Yacht Show. “I was a yacht captain and ran big boats with lots of crew. Then I worked for a couple of guys who decided they wanted to do the America's Cup. So, they convinced me to get off yachts, and go and run their Cup program in New Zealand for the 2003 Cup. 

“After the Cup, my business partner Charlie Birkett and I tried to predict the future a bit. I had lot of experience running big, complicated yacht programs and we knew some yacht owners who needed help managing their yachts. So, in 2004, we started managing four or five yachts for people we knew, and we built the company on that. Turns out our timing was pretty good.

“All owners have the same concerns,” he continues. “How do I hire a crew? How do I pay them? What's the most tax efficient way of doing this? How do I budget for the boat? How do I get reports on those budgets?

“Today we manage about a hundred yachts. We moved into sales because when you're working with somebody, and they want to sell their yacht, or they want to buy another yacht, they come to you because they know you and most importantly, they trust you. We're managing new construction projects for owners in Germany, Holland and Italy too.

“Many of our new clients get interested in yachts after they’ve visited many of the world’s most exclusive resorts. So, they come to us with some pretty high expectations. And we make sure they come back after their first charter and say ‘That was amazing. I want to do it next year.’

“Then that same happy client comes back for a few years in a row and says, ‘Can get a yacht for Christmas in the Caribbean?’ And then he soon realizes, ‘We're spending $500,000 a year chartering, or more, maybe $800,000! What if we bought a boat? And you manage it for us?’

“That’s how it starts,” he continues. “Since we work hard to know every aspect of buying, owning, and chartering superyachts, we give prospective owners real numbers to think about. And we’re realistic about potential costs and charter income. Often, it doesn't matter how wealthy owners are. Since all have reached a certain level of success in business and in life, having professionals run their yacht as a business makes perfect sense.”  

But unlike most businesses that exist simply to make money for owners and shareholders, Wright makes it clear with all his clients that it’s pretty rare to make profit from owning a large yacht. But that’s when his eyes really light up.

He knows you can’t really put a price tag on owning or chartering a large yacht because he’s seen the joy, togetherness, relaxation and connection to the natural world and yes, luxury, his clients enjoy on their yachts.

So, it turns out his Wright’s “secret” isn’t really a secret after all. 

Of course, owning or chartering a superyacht costs lots of money. But it’s worth it…as long as you have the right team managing the process.

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During my previous life as an editor at several American yachting magazines, I was lucky enough to sail thousands of offshore miles on a wide variety of boats. My job a

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