The Yachting Life

By Hannah Wallace November 30, 2007

It’s Showtime!

The season’s best Florida boat shows.

Nov. 29–Dec. 2, 2007: St. Petersburg Boat Show,

Feb. 14–18, 2008: Miami International Boat Show & Strictly Sail (and the Annual Yacht & Brokerage Show),

March 27–30, 2008: West Palm Beach Boat Show,

April 17–20, 2008: Suncoast Boat Show, Sarasota,

October 2008: Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show,

>>Palmetto’s Sea Force IX builds ultra-luxury sports fishing yachts for uber-rich clients who want high performance with all the creature comforts. President, CEO and acclaimed mariner Ron Rookstool and a group of industry veterans created the company to fill a void in a market where such vessels maxed out at 65 feet. “No one competes with us in this size [81 and 91 feet],” says company spokesman Paul Kauffman. The Sea Force fleet is pricey; an 81.5-foot “Hull #2” starts at $5,475,000 and a custom sport-fisher currently under construction is $7 million.

Not that Sea Force’s consumers flinch at the price tag. These “toys,” with their Sub-Zeros, Thermidors, European wallpaper and 24-karat gold hardware, are pure indulgences. “Our clientele’s spending doesn’t fluctuate with the stock market,” says Kauffman. The owner of a $5 million yacht typically has a net worth of at least $100 million.

Still, everyone wants a gallon of gas to go further. “You can carry 3,800 gallons of fuel and travel 3,000 nautical miles without refueling,” Kauffman explains. That could take you on a 10-day fishing expedition from Miami to Nassau and on to the Turks and Caicos Islands. “You can then stop in San Juan, head for the Mona Passage toward Jamaica, and then head back another 700 miles to Miami without having to stop for fuel,” he says. Sea Force IX, (941) 721-9009,

>>Back in 1999, when father and son Piero and Renzo Rivolta noticed weekend sailing getaways were getting fewer and farther between because they couldn’t get back to land in time for the work week, they did just what their three-generation Italian family, famous for designing cars and real estate developments, would do: They formed the Rivolta Yachts division of Rivolta Group in Sarasota. Their first design: the Rivolta 90, a fast, high-tech sailing yacht suitable to operate with minimum crew. Since then, their boat-building business has put Sarasota on the map as a go-to haven of innovative yacht engineering, construction and design.

Described as sleek and retro, with the same European minimalist look as the Rivolta Group’s cars, Rivolta yachts range from 40 to 60 feet, are priced from the mid $500,000s, and feature spacious accommodations below deck and beautiful showers with gorgeous European detailing. “We have been building eight to 12 boats a year for clients from Sarasota to California and around the globe,” says Renzo Rivolta, who runs the company. “What started as a personal pursuit developed into a full-blown business.” Check out the fleet at

>>Bob Kyle of Voyage Yacht Share believes fractional yacht ownership is the wave of the future. With offices in Miami, Annapolis and the Bahamas, he’s thinking of expanding to Sarasota or Naples. His clients have access to sought-after destinations, such as Cape Cod and Hyannis, the British Virgin Islands, the Caribbean and Palma de Majorca, Spain. “Most of our clients have owned large yachts before and are tired of the maintenance expense and hassle,” he reports. With Voyage Yacht Share they get captain, crew and secret anchorage with access to golf, spa, tennis and pools at pre-screened clubs. Only eight shares are sold per yacht; owners get 28 days a year on boats whether they buy a yearly membership or a five-year fractional ownership. On the Stealth 540, for instance, you pay $224,000 down and $2,200 per month, which works out to $55,552 a year for five years and equity ownership. The one-year membership costs $50,000 down and $2,200 a month.

>>“Absentee yacht ownership is rampant in Sarasota County,” says Captain Matt McLeod, who has just opened Yacht Care Services to provide professional maintenance to yacht owners who may chose weekly, monthly, bimonthly or seasonal programs. McLeod was with Mote Marine for 10 years. “When I left, I did charters from Florida to the Bahamas, but after three years of constantly being away from home, my family said, ‘That’s enough,’” he explains.

McLeod offers a complete concierge service, which includes detailing, provisioning rigging, storm preparation and general maintenance. “We will also plan private charters on the client’s yacht, including fishing, cruising, picnics, angler services, voyage preparation and storage assistance,” he says. What’s this seasoned pro’s most important tip to help protect your investment? Yachts should be operated weekly or even daily to run off the salt that can rot the vessel when left in the water, advises McLeod. For information call Matt McLeod (941) 961-2531 or [email protected]

Must Haves

Marine products we love.

Just in Case

The limited-edition Italian-made Sportshell 4230 by Techla was designed for yachtsmen, but its high-tech looks and performance have also made it a status symbol for land lovers. At 4,500 Euros (and up), the waterproof (at more than 10 meters in depth) case features a high-impact resistant carbon fiber shell coupled with billet aluminum frames. Each Sportshell is individually numbered and fully customizable with your choice of color, interior, serial number and even special logos. A perimeter gasket and manual pressure-relief valve provide a state-of-the-art airtight and watertight seal. To order: or

Reverse Chic

Crocs may be ubiquitous, but they were created for boaters, and the colorful shoes are making waves with the Sarasota yacht set. With their light weight (6 ounces), air venting and port holes that let water and sand pass through, they are a steal at $29.

Hot Suits

Paparazzi have photographed Princes Harry and William wearing the sizzling French swim trunks Vilebrequin, which were introduced 30 years ago in St. Tropez in spinnaker canvas. New patterns are only sold for a single season. Here are the navy Visas [or the blue Casinos] from the just-released 2008 collection ($200). For stores, (888) 458-0051 or

In Gear

 Everyone knows Rolex invented the waterproof watch in 1926. But did you know that the Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master was created to meet the needs of professional sailors? You’ll find this model with steel band, steel and platinum case, and silver dial at Mayors ($8,325). In December you might find the new limited-distribution Yacht-Master II (about $30,000).

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