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China Cruising

The rapid growth of economic development over recent years in China means an increasing number of Chinese are able to add leisure boating to their list of lifestyle choices.

Herein lies a difference, local boaters are boaters who traipse in and out of a confined water area, while this group is a prime target for boating agents who see the potential among a pocket of the wealthier community.

This is not confined to China, but has actually been a developing theme in such countries as Malaysia and Thailand. Hong Kong and Singapore, with their long standing influx of expatriates from countries where boating has always been a part of modern life, have long had sophisticated facilities available to all types of leisure vessels, including mega yachts, which is a scene of a small exclusive band of the super-rich with an agenda all of its own.

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For this corner of the mighty and super wealthy, there are the Italian styled and built boats, flash cars and exotic timepieces, cognac to whet the appetite, and a whole host of mega yachting names that are at the very forefront of the pure unadulterated lifestyle of the rich and famous.

If you need to get somewhere fast and furious, with no expenses spared, then Europe is the centre of this exotic boating world. The Monaco Yacht Show has its very exclusive September routine annually, and, if this is your scene, then that is where you need to be to get the inside scoop on mega yachting.

Asia has now attracted an increasing band of sales and marketing agents as leisure boating matures within the new culture, and competition of another kind, that for boat ownership, is rampant at the Asian boat shows. These trade shows are developing fast, and Singapore has even revamped its ‘Boat Asia’ scene with an upmarket display at Sentosa Cove.

Singapore and Hong Kong have always been at the forefront of this activity, but, today, such cities as Shanghai are creeping up the rank of possibilities as a small but increasing number of their people accrue mammoth spending power.

Most leisure boating will always take place in home waters, but, for those with more time to spare, Southeast Asia offers spectacular cruising grounds as good as any on our planet, and the building of more marinas throughout the region will entice more and more people to get out there and explore further afield.

The tropical magic lies isolated throughout the islands, but only the determined and free-thinkers will manage to cross into such waters, due to a universal narrow-mindedness that mistakenly perceives these waters as insecure and unsafe. That is a blessing in disguise in many ways because it leaves these exotic waters free and empty for the true adventurous leisure boaters.

However, this does bring up concerns for security and safety in all waters. Analysis of the figures, recorded at the Anti-Piracy world headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, reveals that only a tiny percentage of attacks are made on private leisure boats. The preferred target is commercial vessels with worthwhile contraband.

Yacht flurries                          

And then there are the races. Yacht racing has developed a circuit in Asia, with several competitions in Hong Kong, the annual ocean races to the Philippines, the Hainan yacht race, The Singapore Straits Regatta series, and the Raja Muda Cup in Langkawi, before the mega grand finale takes place in Phuket in Thailand with the King’s Cup every December. Recently, the Andaman Sea Rally has begun to develop into an exciting opportunity for boaters to visit more remote and majestic islands isolated in their own world.

Local racing at all levels with all sizes of boats is now a part of many places. The Borneo Cup, with racing off Labuan island, and also in Miri in Sarawak, has taken place, there is the Royal Langkawi Regatta, and several other competitions in the area, while the end of October sees the Puerto Galera “All Souls” Weekend Regatta on Mindoro Island in the Philippines, with some 50 boats expected from around the country.

Leisure boating, both competitive and for pleasure, is a booming market and definitely here to stay and play an increasing role as the wealthy get wealthier and their numbers continue to grow. After all, two-thirds of our planet is made up of the oceans of the world and it is high time to open the flood gates to exploration, in comfort, through the burgeoning appeal of leisure boating.

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