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2nd Annual St Maarten Charter Yacht Exhibition

The inaugural SCYE in 2004 showed what many had known for a long time – that St Maarten understands megayachts. The timing, the layout and the ‘industry-only’ guest list neatly answered the needs of captains, brokers and vendors. For the second show, held December 5-8, the challenge was to perfect the art of event management and to confirm to the megayacht establishment that SCYE has the structure, and not just the goodwill, to endure.

Coming at the end of 2005’s record-breaking hurricane season, which saw storms rip through Fort Lauderdale and change the plans of numerous yachts, entry numbers were marginally down on last year. 40 yachts registered, along with 159 international brokers, 30 exhibiting vendors and 39 non-exhibiting vendors. But a new tweak to the layout – with yachts confined to the North Harbour Marina at Port de Plaisance rather than spread across La Palapa, Simpson Bay Marina and Isle de Sol – improved the quality of contact between boats and brokers. In addition, a permanent exhibition center at Port de Plaisance assembled vendors from the local and off-island marine industry under 12,000 square feet of canvas, allowing press and agents to ‘work the room’ without exhaustion.

For those who needed to unwind at the end of the day, events ranged from the lavish Romac International Gala Party to the Sack’s Group Fashion Show, not to mention the Councours des Chefs competition, sponsored by Showboats International and Moet et Chandon. Organised by John Jackson of Saratoga restaurant, the concours is much more than an exhibition cook-off. Good galley grub creates its own chartering fan base and can be the deciding factor in a charter booking.

Fourteen yachts took part, divided into two categories – under 125ft and over. In the former class, Eric Jannson from Charisma took first place, Michael Mousseau from Ohana second and Steve van Loggerenberg from Mia Elise third. In the under 125ft category, Cameron Feldman from Harmony came first, Toni-Leanne Butler from Touch second and Matthew Hoyes from Perseverance third.

With megayachts docked in St Maarten almost all year-round now, it is easy to take their presence for granted, as if they have always been there. But those who devoted months of their time to the organisation of the show – Kass Johnson-Halliday, Georgette Amadou, Lila Rosen, Valeska Luckert and Lucille Frye – have enough experience in the business to know that St Maarten’s status as home port for scores of megayachts is hard earned and even harder protected. Judging by the superlative sound bites coming at SCYE’s conclusion, St Maarten no longer needs to establish its credentials. Simply, it is where megayachts feel at home.

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