Written By DRW Communications, LLC
DRW caught up with Oceanco Group Marketing Director, Paris Baloumis at The International Superyacht Summit to talk shop about brand identity, cross-collaboration, and why the future is now.
From the golden age of the 1600s to the extraordinary hydraulic feats of the 20th century, Dutch shipbuilding has been at the forefront of international business and maritime trade. Today, Oceanco stands apart as a prime example of exceptionally innovative shipyards continuing in that tradition.
Whether it’s the world’s largest, most ecological sailing yacht like Black Pearl, the unyielding grit and grace of Luiz de Basto‘s shark-inspired DAR – boasting nearly 400sqm of glass, futurist concepts that seem to slow time down like KAIROS, or a pioneering movement designed to dissolve the traditional boundaries of the superyacht experience like Oceanco NXT, Paris Baloumis— perhaps yachting’s premiere multi-hyphenate—has been leading the proverbial troops in battle for over a decade. And by battle, we mean a battle of ideas about where the industry should be headed (think: zero emissions).
While attending the 2021 International Superyacht Summit, DRW got an opportunity to sit down with Paris to get his read on a few topics. Here’s what we learned.
DRW: How would you characterize Oceanco’s DNA?
Paris Baloumis (PB): A key part of Oceanco’s identity is our drive to be an industry pioneer. We don’t copy icons, we create new ones, and we pride ourselves on tackling the challenges that others might shy away from. We maintain our momentum of innovation through a combination of incremental steps and radical leaps, realized internally at Oceanco when working with Co-makers partners in yachting and with trusted partners who are from outside the industry.
East Asia and Pacific Islands-inspired 115m Tuhura. Image: Oceanco.
To us, innovation never ends, it is a continuous process of meaningful progress. We hold ourselves and our colleagues to high standards, and our ambition is always to make improvements on our last delivered yacht. We embrace collaboration, partnership, and openness while checking our ego at the door. This outlook is central to Oceanco’s DNA and our way of working.
DRW: What kinds of cross-collaboration are essential in creating “the perfect superyacht destination,” if there is one?
PB: Successful superyacht destinations offer owners and guests the kinds of activities and surroundings that they most enjoy while spending time onboard; they need to be clean, in a beautiful and desirable setting, and well connected to a luxury travel infrastructure. Meanwhile, they should also provide captains and crew with access to practical essentials such as refueling infrastructure, the ability to bring in provisions and other supplies easily, and have a variety of service providers on hand to help maintain the boat during a busy season. These things don’t all have to exist side by side, but it helps if they are in relatively close proximity to one another.
Tuhura, Nologo Living. Image: Oceanco
Arguably the single most important element for a destination’s success in attracting superyachts – particularly a ‘new’ destination – is that its government creates a welcoming environment for charter yachts from a regulatory and taxation perspective. If a destination can achieve this, and attract a developer to build high-quality, modern marinas that provide the necessary facilities outlined above, then it is in a good position to market itself as an appealing place for the superyacht fleet to visit.
Tuhura. Nologo, Owner’s Cabin. Image: Oceanco.
It is important to keep in mind that not every superyacht owner will be motivated to cruise in Dubai and the wider region because there are specific logistical requirements compared to traveling from Europe to the Caribbean, for example. Namely, the need to bring in external security teams for transiting the Gulf of Aden, and there are additional costs involved in using the Suez Canal.
90m KAIROS 360-degree concept at night. Image: Oceanco.
DRW: How can maritime hubs move away from conventional fossil fuels and embrace a futurist zero-emissions approach to luxury yachting?
PB: There is no question that we are moving away from conventional fossil fuel dependence and toward alternative fuels and power sources is vital for a more sustainable future in the yachting industry.
There is a lot of discussion about hydrogen at the moment but there are various alternative fuels that we are examining and studying; among others, these include ammonia, wind assist, compressed hydrogen, liquefied hydrogen, and methanol. There are many outcomes that may pass in the development of alternative fuels and, depending on which part of the marine industry you talk to, you will get a different vision of what the future might look like.
KAIRO Interior. Image: Oceanco.
We believe that where the long-term future is uncertain, we need to focus on what we can be certain of today. We can say with certainty that futureproofing requires electrification, so however shore-based infrastructure can support this will be crucial to maritime hubs staying relevant as the industry evolves.
It takes a leap of faith to invest in new infrastructure or facilities to support any of these above-mentioned new fuel sources, especially when we are uncertain of which will be most widely adopted down the line. But it is something of a chicken and egg situation, too: builders and owners are more likely to pursue an alternative fuel source if it is widely supported across the world’s maritime hubs, and the operators of those hubs will want to develop their facilities in the direction that will attract the most yachts. All the different parts of the industry – builders, marinas, operators, and technology specialists – need to talk to one another and be open about which direction is best for yachting as a whole, so we can work toward a common goal and purpose.
KAIROS Piazza at night. Image: Oceanco.
DRW: What’s your message for the International Superyacht Summit? Why?
PB: Let’s not be scared to embrace change, not least the emerging preferences and needs of yacht owners and new technologies. Dubai and the wider region have the motivation as well as the means to make a positive change in the world, so don’t be afraid to take the lead.
DRW: What projects in the Oceanco pipeline will hit the water soon? What can we expect?
PB: After what has been a quieter period for Oceanco in terms of deliveries, while we worked on some complex and challenging projects behind the scenes, we have a very big year coming up in 2022. It will be a momentous time for us to show off the fruits of our labors, and we believe it will further reinforce our standing as a forward thinker of the industry.
KAOS (Formerly known as Jubilee). Image: Oceanco.
We are currently working on four new construction projects; one rebuild and two refits. For a number of years, we had the honorable distinction of having built the largest yacht in The Netherlands, with 110m / 361ft KAOS (ex-Jubilee), delivered in 2017. And now, we are topping this off with two more record-breaking projects that will exceed previous industry benchmarks: the largest superyacht to ever be launched in The Netherlands, and the largest sailing yacht in the world.