Meet the Owner: AZZURRA II
Swiss publisher Jürg Marquard has owned 48m superyacht AZZURRA II for almost ten years. He reveals how he uses the yacht and why he bought it in an interview with Ocean Independence.
The tender is ready and waiting in Villefranche. It is only a five minute ride out into the bay, where AZZURRA II is anchored and our host is already waiting. "Welcome aboard," says a tanned Jürg Marquard. "We'll go straight to lunch."
There are worse appointments. As an appetizer, the chef on the upper deck serves a warm oyster with asparagus. This is followed by a lobster salad, grilled sea bass with zucchini flowers and an apple strudel. Between the courses, the publisher of Marquard Media Group – which includes 30 magazines, 15 websites – openly answers questions about issues that other yacht owners like to keep quiet about.
OI: You are a successful businessman. Is a yacht a good investment?
JM: Absolutely. AZZURRA II was one of my best investments when it comes to quality of life. I enjoy every day on board – I travel with my family and welcome friends, business partners and managers onto the yacht, all in a beautiful and always-changing landscape.
OI: And financially?
JM: Sure, buying a yacht is a substantial cost and not a financial investment that pays off. As already said, it
is an investment in a better quality of life.
OI: Is it better to buy new or used?
JM: That depends on many different factors, not least of all the financial ones. Personally, I wanted as much yacht as possible for a good price and was fortunate to find AZZURRA II at just under 50m and 500 gross tons. The yacht is an icon, designed in 1988 by the famous, now deceased, yacht architect Gerhard Gilgenast. Of course, the maintenance of an older yacht is more intensive and more expensive than a new one. It is worth it, however, not to cut costs – keep the yacht up to date with technology as well as with the interior design. AZZURRA II was built in 1988, but many of my guests think that she is only a few years old.
OI: What is the investment per year?
JM: I always run the refits during the winter period in Turkey, where I consider the cost to be significantly less
than in France, Italy or Spain, yet of a very good quality.
OI: May I check again and ask how high the investment per year is?
JM: If there is not much work to be done in one year, a high six-figure sum is enough. But there are also years in
which the cost is in the seven-figure range.
OI: What is important to look for when buying a used yacht?
JM: The large technical components such as hull, electronics, generators and stabilizers are important. AZZURRA II is my first yacht – I was buying blind, so to speak, and was very lucky. But I would recommend that anyone interested in buying a yacht request an independent opinion from experts beforehand.
OI: Why did you buy this yacht?
JM: As I said, AZZURRA II is an iconic yacht with a great history. When she launched in 1988, she became one of the 50 largest yachts in the world. The Owner's cabin has 24 huge windows and the most generous bathroom ever built into a yacht until that time. The floor-to-ceiling windows in the sky lounge were then and still are today, a sensation. I was fortunate in 2009 when the financial crisis affected the prices of yachts – I saw this yacht and within half an hour the purchase was decided.
OI: You spend several weeks a year on the yacht. How do you operate your business on board?
JM: I primarily need a good internet connection. On the coast I get 4G, but further out I have to use the satellite. Although there is a large desk in my stateroom, I work mostly in the sky lounge or in the fresh air. Personally, I use an iPad, but of course the yacht is equipped with all other means of technology. There is also a good electronics engineer on the team.
OI: How do you coordinate between your own stays on board and chartering the yacht to guests?
JM: I'll decide at the beginning of the year when I want to be on board. Ocean Independence manages the chartering of AZZURRA II for the remaining weeks. I usually release the yacht to charter guests for the high season, i.e. July and August.
OI: Do the charter guests receive the same service as you as the Owner?
JM: Probably even a better one, they give a tip! (laughs) But seriously, we have more crew members than most yachts of this size. I have 14 crew members on the payroll, of which 12 are constantly on board. That's why the charter guests get a great service, always go highly satisfied and come back in the following year. The crew of AZZURRA II is highly professional and motivated – they can effortlessly provide excellent service to twelve guests on a charter.
OI: In Germany, there is this typical envy complex and they speak quite openly about yacht ownership. They seem to have no problem with that.
JM: First of all, I'm Swiss (smiles), but I know what you're after. No, I see no reason to hide my property. Because I'm a relatively well-known person in my country, I could not keep owning a yacht a secret. Besides, I think those who have worked hard should not be ashamed of their money.