Where did the Superyachts go in 2020? It looks like BREXIT and COVID had an effect on the whole world over the last year or so. This has had a massive impact, mostly negative on the Superyacht industry.

  1. Crew isolating on board
  2. Ports closed
  3. Owners are not allowed to fly in to use their yachts.

Add to this the fact that lockdown easing has taken some time and you can understand why this year has been a bit of a write off for many yachts.


Except for those yacht captains, owners and businesses who thought outside the box! COVID has been a story of overcoming adversity and how the world has come together to support those in need. It has also been a story of adaptability. All sectors of business have seen those who are flexible and able to adapt to the ever changing situation succeed against the odds.

Success? Tell me something to cheer me up.

In 2020 most of us know the UK was not a pleasant place to be. Like most other countries around the world, the UK was hit hard by COVID and locked down even harder. But, as we were just saying, from adversity comes adaptability.

The UK? Really?

Yes really. The UK has a Superyacht agency called MGMT. This is a relatively small company that appears to punch WAY above its weight. Brothers Mark and Nigel Upton set MGMT up in 2009. It’s a family business with father Robin and brother Tim (still currently a captain) taking active roles/ advisory positions within the company. There is a strong Superyacht background here too. All three brothers worked onboard Superyachts and most of the MGMT team are from a Superyacht background too.

The company first got noticed in 2011 in the run-up to the London Olympics as it was quite literally the only Superyacht agent in town. And the rest, they say is history.

Back to COVID?

“2020 was a year to forget for all sorts of reasons. But also one to remember because of innovation from so many areas” Mark Upton, MGMT Founder and COO tells us:

“The UK was locked down and we honestly didn’t know what we were going to do. Then we did a little research and discovered the ports weren’t closed to Yachts, or any other vessels. The UK is an island and so has to allow shipping to continue, although with strict rules. As a result, we contacted a lot of the yachts we know and/ or have looked after in the past and let them know the UK was open to yachts. At least for isolation and berthing purposes.”

Flexibility is key

MGMT did something clever. Because there were some variations to the rules in the UK, this meant Superyachts could go there to isolate. Also, because the quarantine rules for seafarers were different from the rest of Europe, yachts could come to the UK with much less strict protocols for the crew. It’s also surprisingly cheap.

“It wasn’t easy.” Says Mark.  “But we did have a few yachts that came to the UK to isolate. A lot of their crew were British and so it made sense for them to be close to home. Because of quarantine, we became key workers. We did everything for them from shopping to deliveries, COVID testing, setting up isolation apartments (even motorhomes sometimes) for incoming crew and a lot more.

An agency with a difference

This seems like everyday agency work but the complications of COVID meant we had to be very careful about where we sourced provisions. We were also very conscious of adverse publicity for the yachts. The public always assumes the worst of owners are onboard Superyachts. Therefore, many people jumped to the conclusion that billionaires were breaching the rules and visiting the UK for a holiday. So we had to do some high-level PR to ensure this was dealt with quickly and sensitively.

The UK was not a nice place to be last year but, we did the best we could for our clients and we all made it to the end of the year.”

This year looked like it was going to be more of the same right? So….

Watch this space!

We love to hear stories like this and honestly, it is great to hear of companies coming through COVID with a smile on their face. Well done to MGMT and let’s see what they have to tell us about 2021!

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