An eclectic mix of ideas for future #Life under Sail was discussed at the Monaco Yacht Club on Wednesday, November 13, by renowned industry figures in the fickle market of supersailers, presently in a lull. Partnered by YPI (Monaco, Hong Kong, London) and Persico Marine, recurring themes were sustainability – through harnessing the wind, sun and hydrogen ­– and attracting women – it was pointed out that there are 244 billionaire women in the world – and the young.

Wetsuited Monaco Yacht Club young sailors trolleyed their Optimist dinghies past the seminar windows right on cue. After much ‘performance and rig’ male talk, with comments such as “happy wife, happy life” from Burgess CEO Jonathan Beckett – who also noted he shared the average superyacht owner age of 62 and that the ‘wealth curve’, especially among 25-35 year-olds, was rising while the ‘new-build’ curve was flat – wife of top US naval architect Bill Tripp, Danielle, pointed out that as the older billionaire men die their much younger wives will be added to the 244 as they inherit.

Double Olympic Gold Medallist Shirley Robertson, was compere, Monaco-based Adriana Monk, former car designer and interior designer of the first new ClubSwan 125, amongst the delegates and lawyer-cum-superyacht owner, Paula Trifirò, shared her experiences about ownership (working up from a seven-metre to Ed Dubois-designed supersailers, with Boat International’s Editor-at-Large Marilyn Mower.)

Antarctic Ice Pilot Ashley Perrin, and first female Boating Officer of the British Antarctic Survey, shared stories of harsh conditions, including diving to 700 metres depth below ice. Russian and British citizen Andrey Yakunin – sometimes described as a ‘Russian exile’ – an avid mountaineer, freeride skier and diver, talked about expeditions in Norway on his Oyster charter yacht “Firebird”.

A sharp cookie, Yakunin noted, “Demand (for charter) is there. Finding right channels to access it is important”, saying he got more business through the mountaineer network than yacht brokers – but does not allow crampons on his teak decks. For warmer climes, Alain Janet, CEO of Solar Cloth System, spoke of the benefits of solar energy on sails, even though they are rarely hoisted, Gordon Kay (Infiniti Yachts) of hydrofoils, while Michael Schmidt (Y Yachts) and Henry Hawkins (Baltic Yachts) talked of ‘keeping it simple’.

Stefano De Vivo, Chief Commercial Officer Ferretti Group and MD of Monaco-based Wally, explained how you feel dwarfed on a sail boat in port when alongside similar-priced motor yachts and believes Monaco Yacht Show should dedicate a zone to supersailers and give them ‘dignity’.

All agreed there are those who will want sailing performance at any cost while another breed will be looking for the comforts of motor yachts, using the wind to help with sustainable living. Thys Nikkels, MD of Dykstra Naval Architects, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year as pioneers in wind-power across the maritime industry, wrapped up with ‘Raising the Bar’ showing the late Tom Perkins’ graph with a Risk curve, dropping over time, versus Investment curve, rising as risk reduced, for his innovative ‘Maltese Falcon’.

Nikkels showed an amusing cartoon and explained that you cannot innovate out of fear but need three things: “Thirst, Balls and Knowledge”. There was plenty of that spilling out to the cocktail reception and the spark ignited in Monaco for some exciting designs to be created over the coming years – by today’s generation for the new generation, who by now were wheeling their Optimists back, having enjoyed a sail in idyllic conditions.

Nick Jeffery is former Editor of Boat International (