Now that the dust has settled from the 28th edition of the Monaco Yacht Show (MYS), we at Monaco Life are reflecting on all of the stunning superyachts we visited and all of the outstanding functions we were invited to attend.
Without question, the highlight or our week was our exclusive interview with His Serene Highness Prince Albert II in his private office at Yacht Club de Monaco.
Prince Albert invited Monaco Life and well-known superyacht expert Patrick Coote to discuss the yachting industry in Monaco, with a particular focus on sustainable yacht construction and operation as well as yachting’s impact on our most precious natural resources.
The interview was also filmed by Christian Moore for Superyacht TV and will be available in Monaco on TV channel 88.
Eric Brundage: Thank you Monseigneur for inviting us here to talk about one of the most important business sectors in Monaco on the first day of yachting’s premier worldwide event. Monaco Life is committed to covering and supporting all businesses and organisations that promote sustainability. Certainly, your administration has proven to be among the world’s leaders in creating awareness in this area.
Patrick: The Monaco Yacht Show is a fantastic celebration of everything connected to the superyacht world but some may argue that large motor yachts go against the ethos of environmental protection. How do you view this relationship?
“our focus here begins with the goal of making the Yacht Show a carbon-free event”
Prince Albert: Certainly, our focus here begins with the goal of making the Yacht Show a carbon free event and to have a broadly aimed program of sustainable practices and awareness. In yacht design, for example, the materials to be used should come from sustainable and renewable sources. In designing propulsion systems, we need to continue to develop hybrid and electric systems. There are some of these available for tenders and small units, but we need to continue to develop these more efficient propulsion systems for larger vessels, all the way up to superyachts.
Patrick: Monaco is widely-regarded as the capital of yachting and the fact that we’re sitting here at the Yacht Club de Monaco with the biggest yacht show in the world is a testament to Monaco’s leading position in the yachting industry. Can you tell us what Monaco is doing to maintain and expand upon that leading role?
Prince Albert: Of course, it starts with staging this wonderful event. But year round – through the Yacht Club and other institutions based in Monaco – we run a number of educational programs, looking to capitalize on the diversity of the knowledge and expertise of the yachting professionals living and working here in Monaco. We try to tap into that knowledge in as many ways as we can. That’s why we have a formal yachting cluster here and as many awareness-raising programs as we can – from training crews to creating sailing and motor yachting activities for our residents.
Patrick: As a Monaco resident, it’s clear to me that part of Monaco’s success in the yachting industry is due not only to your own vision, but also to your father’s leadership before you. Recently, we’ve had the new digue for cruise ships and the new Yacht Club – do you envisage any other major changes to the physical layout of the port?
Prince Albert: No, there won’t be any major changes around the port in Monaco, although we’re always looking at making small adjustments. For example, there may an opportunity for a museum dedicated to yachting somewhere around the port. Societe d’Exploitation des Portes de Monaco is looking to expand. We have the wonderful project in Ventimiglia, too. That work will be completed in the later part of next year. That will provide a tremendous opportunity to expand the number and size of the berths we can offer to accommodate yachts of all sizes, and it’s only nine nautical miles away on the Italian side. We’re also looking at other opportunities to own and participate in the management of other marinas, but those will take place several years down the road.
Patrick: One particular challenge the industry faces is that the yachts are getting bigger and therefore less easy to accommodate in the port.
Prince Albert: Yes, that is true and it’s great news for the yachting industry. We will continue to adapt our port and resources to be as accommodating as possible. We are always tinkering with improved ways to move yachts around our harbour – but the fact we have bigger boats out there also highlights the need for us all to focus on the technology available to promote more sustainable yachting practices.
Eric: Turning for a minute to the issue of the protection of our water resources, are there any companies you know of in Monaco that are creating products to help with water conservation?
Prince Albert: While there are a number of such businesses, one that comes to mind is a company that started here that produces small desalinization units for use largely in developing countries – so that people can wash their clothes, their cars, their fishing vessels without having to tap in to the water grid.
“we do see the industry as a whole rethinking all of the ways we use the sea as a method of transport”
Eric: You’ve virtually lived your life on the water. What changes have you seen during your time spent out on the oceans?
Prince Albert: The yachting industry has perhaps been a bit slow to embrace sustainable yachting practices, but we do see the industry as a whole rethinking all of the ways we use the sea as a method of transport. We have to move to a low carbon environment in the very near future, in every aspect of yacht construction and operation.
Patrick: In a project that combines two of your passions – exploration and conservation – can you update us on what the expedition vessel Yersin has been doing recently?
Prince Albert: Unfortunately, Yersin will not be operable for the next few months, but there are other research vessels that will help us continue to implement the Monaco Explorations. We will probably therefore add another year to the original three-year plan. The response that we have received from the scientific community has been tremendous. Our scientific board, which includes experts such as oceanographer Margaret Leinen from the Scripps Institute, has looked at a number of projects and 15 were selected to pursue, including the study of sea mounts and coral reefs as examples. Here in Monaco, I would mention first and foremost our Monaco Scientific Center, which, together with the Oceanographic Institute, has demonstrated leadership for years. This year, Monaco is assuming the chairmanship of the ICRI – along with Australia and Indonesia. This is the international coalition to promote the study and preservation of coral reefs.
We also have several other great institutions that are headquartered here, such as the International Hydrographic Organization, the Marine Environmental Studies Lab, which is a part of the United Nations system. In fact, it is the only marine lab in the UN system. They monitor isotopes and other contaminants and pollutants. We have enough programs to keep us going until 2021 and we will continue to find ways to get the scientists what they need and to get them where they want to go in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and of course in the Mediterranean.
Certainly data gathering is part of the evolution – providing yachts with the equipment they need to assist the scientific community, and the Sea Keeper project, is also at the forefront of that initiative.
Patrick: We’ve talked about the yachting industry and the environment, but yachting is ultimately about having fun, about sharing good times with family and friends. We have an amazing collection of boats here, large and small. I don’t know how often you get to take a day off, but if you had a perfect day on the water, can you tell us which boat it would be on?
Prince Albert: Well, I don’t get as many days off as I might like, but when I do I really enjoy sailing aboard Tuiga. She’s a beautiful vessel. Any day on the sea is a great day. I was told years ago that a day on the water adds a year to your life.
Eric: Your Serene Highness, on behalf of Monaco Life, thank you for taking time to speak with us and to share your thoughts about the wonderful opportunities we have here in Monaco to enjoy the water, and to share your thoughts on what we can all do to ensure it’s done responsibly. We look forward to speaking with you again soon.
Patrick Coote is the CEO of NAUTIQ Family Office.