2023 marks the 20th anniversary of Sovereign Marine. In twenty years, the business has grown into a highly respected full service yacht management company with an impressive marine asset portfolio and a global client base. It has also created an enviable following across the yachting industry worldwide. Gabriel González, Director at Sovereign Marine, reflects on the company’s story over the past two decades.
In March 2003, Sovereign’s Gibraltar head office acquired the business then known as RegisterAYacht.com from its founder. At the time, the company provided yacht registration services exclusively under the Gibraltar flag. Sovereign’s intention was to combine the business with its own trust and corporate services offering, specifically aimed at high net worth individuals further afield.
Very soon, the business started providing new services in terms of “add-ons” to the basic yacht registration process, such as applying for radio licences. Moreover, it expanded the range of jurisdictions in which it could register vessels initially concentrating on other “Red Ensign” registries. These places fly the hugely respected British Red Ensign and include the Crown Dependencies (Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man) as well as other British Overseas Territories. Not all are suitable for yacht registration but clients are able to choose the “flag state” most appropriate for their needs. There are several complexities to consider in choosing the flag state, which underline the need for expert advice.
Today, the business can also register yachts in several independent jurisdictions worldwide including UK, Cyprus, Malta and the Marshall Islands. Sovereign Marine has found jurisdictions in Asia, Middle East, or South Africa are also important because is the natural location of many of their clients, and, happily, can service them all via global offices. Thus, Sovereign Marine is able to offer clients and their advisers the widest possible choice. The business has built up unbeatable commercial relationships with yacht registries around the world including most of the Red Ensign states. Sovereign’s specialist team can advise on each registry’s advantages thus enabling an appropriate decision to be made on a case-by-case basis.
Working closely with Sovereign’s insurance broking subsidiary, the marine division has developed a full range of marine insurance services thus providing a comprehensive offering to prospective yacht owners. A yacht should always be fully insured but public liability and other insurance coverage is often required and in some cases obligatory. This can be a complex area but again Sovereign Marine and its colleagues at Sovereign Insurance Services can assist.
Over the years, a highly reputable yacht management business has been developed and Sovereign Marine is very well known throughout the industry. It liaises constantly with the main stakeholders in the yacht industry including law firms and yacht brokers. From its local beginnings in Gibraltar, the client portfolio has been considerably expanded to the present day, with a fleet of more than a hundred yachts now under full management.
The portfolio is widely diversified and clients come from all over the world. The size range of clients’ yachts under management is also impressive. Sovereign does not impose size restrictions and it will consider any reasonable new business proposition. However, the majority of yachts under its management are in excess of 15m. Many are very much larger than that. Today‘s superyachts can easily reach 100m or more – the largest is 180m in length!
In 2019, the company was rebranded Sovereign Marine in recognition of the wide range of maritime services by then available. A dedicated team of yacht professionals assist in all aspects of yacht management which include but are not limited to: registration; ownership; financial management; insurance; import/export; crew administration and payroll; tax and VAT issues; technical and safety management; banking and card facilities; surveying and regulatory advice.
Clients and their advisers benefit from having direct access to the rest of Sovereign Group worldwide as many of the services require input from other teams such as legal, compliance, tax advice, etc. Almost 600 members of staff in over twenty countries are on hand to assist so time zones are never a problem. Between them, the Sovereign team speak most European languages – and several others besides – so it offers an unbeatable proposition to the industry that advisers are welcome to exploit at any time.
Sovereign Marine is a regular attendee at some of the pre-eminent yachting events around the world. Naturally, the pandemic affected the industry badly but the shows are back. This year Sovereign Marine’s schedule includes attending the Cannes Yacht Festival and Monaco Yacht Show. It was also present in April at the Palma International Boat Show in Majorca where it has become a regular on the scene. Clients and their advisers are most welcome to get in touch with Sovereign Marine in advance of these shows to arrange an appointment to match client requirements with suggested solutions.
Sovereign Marine works closely with the Government of Gibraltar, which has benefitted from its expertise built up over many years. Together with two other leading local yacht professionals, Sovereign was responsible for establishing a successful series of Superyacht Forums from 2013. This set Gibraltar apart from its peers resulting in an enhanced reputation that it enjoys to this day. Yacht brokers and international law firms continue to consult Sovereign Marine on a wide variety of maritime issues.
It has been an exciting voyage. I am delighted to have been part of the transformation of the original RegisterAYacht into Sovereign Marine that we see today. I take this opportunity to thank the team at Sovereign Marine and my colleagues across the group as well as industry friends worldwide all of whom have helped to build Gibraltar into the crucially important yachting centre that it is today. Most of all I wish to thank our loyal client base around the globe. I look forward to the next twenty years.