Boot Exclusive 2/21
Torsten Sieckmann lives and breathes yachting. Active in the industry since 1986, the enthusiastic water sportsman and salesman was, among other things, CEO of Sunseeker Germany for many years, managed several yacht companies in Germany and Switzerland and now successfully runs his own company together with his brother Oliver Sieckmann: Sieckmann Yachts GmbH.
Mr Sieckmann, you have been working in the yacht industry for 35 years. How did it all start for you and how has the industry changed?
I started out as a surfer and sailor. My enthusiasm for water sports led me to sales at a boat centre. The founder of the company, Axel Krick, was an importer for Sunseeker yachts. Things have changed – when I started back then, the smallest Sunseeker was the 20-foot Mustang. Today that’ s tender size! In just a decade, the size sold had already doubled and by 2000 we were over 100 feet in the market. The big deal, then as now, is the in-house German service we have built up in the Mediterranean. This means that everything is in one hand for the owner. Purchase in Germany, delivery and service where the owner wants to cruise his yacht. Nothing has changed in this respect to date. What has been added, however, is that today we conduct negotiations with the respective shipyard and have expanded the yacht management. In addition, we take care of crew and charter more intensively, especially for the larger yachts.
How many people have you been able to sell a yacht to in the course of your career?
At this point, that will be more than 500.
Are you still in contact with most of your customers?
Absolutely, and that makes me particularly happy. Some owners and their families have been loyal customers and friends for over 25 years.
The majority of your clients are from Germany. What do Germans look for when they decide to invest in a yacht?
What is agreed and signed for is delivered. On time and as ordered. Period. Years ago, shipyards in Southern Europe said that German customers are complicated. No, our customers are not complicated, but they want to have all issues and uncertainties clarified with their contractor in advance, i.e. payment terms, guarantees, delivery, warranty and guarantee, so that there are no discussions later. After all, this is what distinguishes the German customer: When everything is in place, payment is on time.
Do most of your customers have yachting experience or are you also contacted by yachting novices?
Most of them already have experience, but of course we are happy to hear from anyone new to yachting. We have the experience and the network to advise even newcomers ideally and comprehensively.
What would you recommend to a customer who has hardly any experience on the water but is thinking of buying a 30-meter yacht?
I would advise him to charter a yacht for a week with his family. Here you quickly get a feel for the possibilities and experiences that yachting offers.
Where do most of your customers come from? Northern or southern Germany? From the big cities?
Our customers come from all over Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
What are the marina and holiday hotspots for German owners?
Of course, the Balearic Islands rank in first place as a top yacht hub. The Côte d`Azur from May onwards. Naturally St. Tropez, the Italian Riviera, the Almalfi Coast and Sardinia. Croatia and Greece are usually the choice for the larger yachts.
Do most of your clients come to you with a mooring or do you also help with finding a berth?
Of course, we also offer the rental and sale of berths in our portfolio. We also always assist our customers with service, registration and other questions. Every now and then we also have a few insider tips for bays and restaurants (laughs).
Do you have a favourite marina in the Mediterranean?
Yes, namely the Marina Martinis Marchi in Maslinica on the island of Šolta, I am there at least once a year.
How has the Coronavirus affected the yacht market?
First, unfortunately, many crews had to live on board for a long time under challenging quarantine conditions. Then, of course, as in other industries, there were delays to vessels under construction and late deliveries to owners. Apart from that, demand and sales of used and new yachts went very well, while charter bookings suffered. As a result, many spots in the high season were not as busy as in previous years.
Many shipyards are currently marketing their yachts as floating islands on which one can isolate oneself in the finest way and with the greatest comfort. Do you have yachts on offer with which interested parties could go on a voyage as early as this summer?
Of course! For this season we can still offer the brand new Ferretti Yacht 1000, which has not yet been shown at any show. We also have a Custom Line 30 M, which has already been completed, and a Navetta 33, which we can delivered by the end of July.
As things currently stand, there will be no big boat shows as usual in the next few months. Does that make it more difficult to sell yachts?
It doesn’t make it any easier. The Boat Shows are the highlights of our season and the yachties love these events. We all need the personal contact. You have to see, touch, smell, test and drive a boat to know what you are buying. Of course, you can whet your appetite via the website and digital presentations, but that never replaces a visit on board.
If you had an unlimited budget, which yacht from your brand range would you choose and why?
My favourite is the Custom Line Navetta 33, displacer for extended touring. Three decks, volume of almost 300 GRT, large garage and swim platform – with an excellent price-performance ratio. We delivered two yachts of this type to their delighted owners in 2020 and it was a real pleasure to be at sea with them.