by Kim Kavin
I've cruised in Brazil exactly once. It was in 2008 aboard an Azimut 74 in a place called Angra dos Reis, which is within a couple hours’ driving distance of the international airport at Rio de Janeiro and boasts 365 islands for boaters to explore. For an American, getting here takes no longer than, say, getting to a yacht on the Italian Riviera—and without the discombobulating time zone changes. The place is picturesque, the restaurants onshore are good, the waters are calm and protected, and the region offers everything that more than a few charter clients would consider ideal for a weeklong vacation during the winter months.
And yet until recently, serious yacht charter was nonexistent. Not virtually nonexistent, but actually nonexistent. At the time, the Azimut I was aboard was being marketed as the first-ever proper, legal crewed charter yacht trying to open the market in Brazil. The country, on a practical level, allowed charter only aboard locally owned and locally flagged yachts, most of which were in the 70- to 80-foot range with owners who rarely did more than a day cruise. If charter clients wanted a seven-day itinerary with international-caliber and English-speaking crew on this side of the world, they had to stick with the Caribbean. Most Brazilian owners didn’t even offer their boats for charter. It was frowned upon, as a sign that the owner needed money.
Little has changed in terms of charter infrastructure since my visit, but with the 2014 FIFA World Cup being planned in Rio, brokers are now receiving more inquiries than ever—and France-based Neo Yachting is trying once again to open the market.
Samuel Le Gall is Neo’s point person for Anema & Core—and he’s a Brazilian native who was raised by a French family, somebody with a unique interest in building a proper charter industry in this part of South America. “More and more Brazilian clients are coming to charter in the Mediterranean with us, so we wanted to also go there to see the possibilities,” he says. “The owner of Anema & Core has chartered in the Med several times, so he wanted to jump in. It has to start somewhere.”
Anema & Core meets local regulations with a Brazilian flag and Brazilian crew, and she is one of the biggest yachts on the coast, where megayachts have yet to become popular with the nation’s financial elite. Le Gall says the owner is trying to emulate a Mediterranean standard of service, but within the limitations of Brazil’s current infrastructure.
“I cruised onboard Anema & Core for four days with the owner, and it was paradise,” he says. “It’s just stunning. The boat is in top-notch condition, and the crew are extremely knowledgeable about the region. But in terms of logistics, people have to understand it is different than in the Med. You have beaches where there is absolutely no one. It is wild. It is a getaway from the world.”
Anema & Core, after minimal advertising, is already getting multiple charter inquiries for the World Cup as well as inquiries for the Christmas holiday and other winter dates at a lowest weekly base rate of $49,000. “The interest is from clients in Brazil and outside of Brazil,” Le Gall says. “We are having very high demand.”
Time will tell whether that demand can translate into a new charter destination. The media attention shining on Brazil for the World Cup should help, and the fact that more and more Brazilians are being exposed to the charter industry in other parts of the world is also a positive development.
No matter what, Le Gall is definitely right about one thing: It has to start somewhere. Anema & Core in Angra dos Reis is as good a place as any.