Interview: Abdullah Nahar and Bernard D'Alessandri

Abdullah Nahar, Yachting Partners International and Bernard D'Alessandri, Yacht Club de Monaco

Bernard d'Alessandri and Abdullah Nahar discuss the future of yachting

Abdullah Nahar, Director, YPI and Bernard d’Alessandri, Secrétaire Général & Directeur Général, Yacht Club de Monaco discuss the future of yachting, sustainability and the next generation of yachting enthusiasts.

1. The Yacht Club de Monaco unites yachting enthusiasts in Monaco and beyond. What do you think makes the YCM and yachting so special?

Bernard d'Alessandri: Firstly, the YCM is special, possibly unique in the world because it is a private club with a public service remit to promote the Principality. Born out of the Société Nautique des Régates established in 1888 and founded in 1953 by Prince Rainier III, it draws on close to 150 years of yachting tradition in the Principality — almost as much as the America’s Cup, the oldest sports trophy in the world.

Second, like the Principality, it is a very cosmopolitan Club which is reflected in our membership: 2,500 members from 79 nationalities. All are united by their love of the sea and yachting and the values they represent: solidarity among seafarers, naval etiquette at sea and ashore, respect for maritime heritage, and a determination to protect the marine environment – the sea is their playground after all - through innovation.

And finally, we are very inclusive and encourage members to get involved. For example, our annual Oktoberfest party was instigated by our German members while the Russian community were a driving force behind our Russian New Year party in January. Their involvement and presence as Club representatives abroad, when competing in major regattas for example, make them our best ambassadors. Their pride in the Club is embodied by our motto, ‘One Spirit, One Team, One Club’ and collectively we are proud to belong to the global yachting fraternity.

Abdullah Nahar: YPI was founded on a love of sailing and a passion for the ocean and following my appointment as a director of YPI, I have quickly come to truly share this philosophy. We honour the same traditions and shared values as the YCM. YPI is one of the world’s oldest yachting houses and we have a mutual understanding and respect for the Club. Our collective ambition to protect the marine environment made this partnership a natural fit. What makes the YCM truly special is the diversity of the members, with global perspectives and conversations taking place every day that will help shape the future of our industry for decades to come.

2. What brought you into yachting and motivated you to build a career in the industry?

Bd'A: I was a child when I discovered sailing. My first time on the water was on an Optimist, I experienced such a wonderful feeling of freedom. That was the beginning and I have not looked back! I started at the YCM in 1976 and I have been at the helm for 44 years. I am lucky to have a job that allows me to live, work and breathe my passion, and which puts me in contact with all those involved in the industry.

AN: I purchased my first motorboat at the age of 21 while living in the US, and it was a great source of joy and freedom. That ignited a real passion, and I am extremely fortunate that my career has led me to part of the industry. The partnerships and collaboration taking place between designers, shipbuilders, clients and the YCM is a great source of excitement and opportunity, and a shared motivation to accomplish our ambitions for the global yachting community.

3. YPI is the yacht club’s first Nautical Partner, what are your hopes for the future and what do you hope to achieve by working together?

Bd'A: Our ambition with this partnership is to appeal to a new generation of owners and support them in their yachting adventure. YPI, under Abdullah Nahar’s leadership, is seeking to establish a new type of relationship with the yachting world. I am convinced that with this dynamic young team new horizons will be explored, in line with our values.

AN: It is a phenomenal achievement for YPI to be the Club’s first Nautical Partner. Attracting the new generation of industry talent, welcoming new clients and owners and protecting the marine environment are essential to the future of our industry. I am confident that with Bernard D’Alessandri’s leadership and expertise and both YCM’s and YPI’s team we have the talent, skills and enthusiasm to amplify the Principality’s global appeal and create further exceptional experiences.

4. How can organisations like the Yacht Club de Monaco and YPI encourage the next generation of yachting enthusiasts and talent within the industry?

Bd'A: In my opinion, we must be innovative to keep thinking outside the box to build the future and attract young people. A prime example is the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge we organise every year to encourage student engineers, working with the industry, to develop clean propulsion systems for boats. The current health crisis is another big challenge. We just finished the ‘Monaco Capital of Yachting Experience’, combining face-to-face and remote participation. Its success, judging by the numbers who joined us online and used the replay facility, demonstrates that Monaco is the epicentre of yachting.

AN: Over the last decade we have welcomed new yachting enthusiasts from regions such as China, India and the Middle East, with a younger audience coming from tech hotspots such as Silicon Valley. For us, it’s about communicating the unique benefits only achieved from yachting; the feeling of freedom from being out on the water, the access to untouched, isolated destinations and to some of the world’s most beautiful locations, and the memories you create that can last a lifetime for family and friends. We also know that we need to demonstrate the technological and engineering innovations taking place that will see yachts having a reduced impact on the marine environment, and encourage young talent to collaborate and share their innovations and thought leadership within this space.

5. The Yacht Club de Monaco is an active advocate for sustainability and the protection of marine life. What do you hope to see over the next ten years?

Bd'A: Cleaner greener alternative fuels for boats! In the YCM Marina we are setting an example with rapid charging stations installed for electric boats and three electric tenders for the Marina and for supervising sailing classes. We are also building a zero-emission committee boat for regattas, with a hybrid electric-hydrogen system for propulsion and onboard energy needs, so no noise pollution and no emissions. Meanwhile, in response to growing demand from owners we joined forces with partners to launch the first emissions rating for superyachts in September [during the Monaco Capital of Yachting Experience]. Called the Superyacht Eco Association (SEA) Index, it is a bespoke tool to help owners assess and improve their yachts’ environmental performance. It is only by acting together that we will succeed in making our contribution to a more climate-friendly yachting sector, one that will do everything in its power to reduce the effects of air and sea pollution, and will encourage good practices across the board by owners and crew.

AN: We know that clients are increasingly concerned about the impact the industry can have on the environment and one marine life in vulnerable ecosystems. It is an ongoing, daily conversation but we’re making great strides with initiatives such as plastic free charters, internal sustainability champions at YPI and innovations happening within yacht design and build. The next decade is going to be vital in taking huge strides to protect the planet for future generations, and YPI and YCM are committed to making this happen.

6. Finally, what is your favourite sailing memory or anecdote?

Bd'A: A difficult one – there are so many. My two favourites are when I skippered Biotonus-YCM for the Monaco-New York transatlantic in 1985, then all the years being at the helm of the Yacht Club’s flagship Tuiga (1909), which will be participating in the 2021 Monaco Classic Week (8-12 September).

AN: I’ve been lucky to have spent time on chartered superyachts with colleagues, family and friends, and we’ve always come away with unforgettable memories and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. A personal highlight from the last year has been the time spent with Bernard and the YCM during the pandemic, which has become a safe haven for many during this challenging time.