In the second of our series of articles on bespoke yacht building, we met up with Spirit Yachts’ Founder & CEO Sean McMillan and discussed the process of initiating an order from the world’s leading, modern, classic yacht designer and builder.
Treated to coffee overlooking the marina, I settled into my chat with Sean by asking just who were the clients that picked up the phone or emailed Spirit, to set the process rolling with an order? “99.9% of yachts these days are built in fibreglass” explained Sean. “Since the 80’s, there has been a revival in wooden yacht building – led by me and a few others - and 25 years after starting Spirit we are the only in-house, modern, classic yacht design and build manufacturers in the world. Our clientele is small….4 or 5 per year from all over the world, looking for the perfect boat. Our clients are experienced yachtsmen and they will have seen what we do in the industry press or at classic regattas. Mostly they will have owned a mass-produced yacht, which hasn’t quite met their needs. Then it’s the sit down meeting…..almost always in my office, where there is a cabinet full of drawings. We get to discuss what the client wants – not always what they think they want! – and the client gets a first look at the yard and smell the sawdust. It pushes the client to focus on what they are going to do with the yacht…..cruise long distance, cruise locally, race, race a lot? Interestingly, most of our owners who just want to ‘cruise’, end up getting hooked on the idea of racing! The performance of our yachts seamlessly leads from cruising to racing. We will pull drawings out of the cabinet to get an idea on the size required and budget available. 1 or 2 drawings might spark a design idea, or am I going to start from scratch? Clients buy into the individuality. If I work from a blank piece of paper, I can tailor-make the boat. These days, does the client want business-level communication installed for example? I will then produce maybe 2 or 3 iterations and then it’s time for a follow up meeting, to start going into more detail…specification, equipment and of course fixing the price. Every price is a fixed price and every delivery date is fixed – no nasty shocks.”
So, dialogue, understanding & exceeding expectations is what the process is all about at Spirit. Just a few things that ensure world-leading status.