The Newport Charter Show went the extra mile this year to make the show even more fun for the yachts, the crew and brokers with four days of activities including tours of the famed Bellevue Avenue mansions for the brokers. The gilded age was the theme of the show. Brokers were all very enthusiastic.
“I’m working on charter bookings right now as a result of the Newport Charter Yacht Show,” said Charter Management Director Jeff Shaffer from Superyacht Sales and Charter, “so it was definitely well worth attending.” Shaffer represented the 88-foot No Matter What, which was not only new to the show but also a brand-new build (2022) by Sanlorenzo in Italy. She specializes in term charters (New England in the summer and Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Islands in the winter) and is a clever crossover of a traditional flybridge yacht and a rugged explorer.
“No Matter What is perfect for an active on-the-go type,” said Shaffer, adding that the yacht’s vast array of water toys includes jet skis, an e-foil, Seabobs, paddleboards, surfboards, wakeboards, scuba equipment and snorkeling gear. “We’ve got two tenders, an inflatable dock, and a wide ‘beach club’ with a lowering platform that makes access to the water fun and easy!”
Indeed, each of the participating yachts had plenty to crow about, such as the 92’ Slipaway’s massive fly bridge where “everything happens”; the 75-foot Rebecca of Vineyard Haven’s ability to deliver an authentic sailing experience aboard a modern vessel built with traditional shipbuilding methods; and the 85’ Lexington’s relatively shallow draft that allows it to berth dockside at certain destinations when other large yachts must anchor out.
“We hosted 38 brokers on Tuesday, which was really nice,” said Assistant Charter Manager Elena Vitelli of Blue Oceans Yachting, which represents Lexington. She explained that all participating yachts were open to brokers daily for viewing, with many of them hosting luncheons mid-day so brokers could consider compatibility of cuisine, service and surroundings with the preferences and tastes of their charter clients. “There were special Newport events for brokers and contests for crews, so that was more-than-usual for a charter show, and it was nice to have those options.”
“I even live in Newport and I thought the day was amazing,” said Edmiston Yachts’ Rana Johnson, who represents the 151’ Nadan, a show stopper because of its elegant vintage profile, ultra-luxurious interior, and exclusive affiliation with Over Yonder Cay, a privately owned island nestled in the Bahamas' Exuma chain. “We took a bus tour of Ocean Drive, went sailing on a 12-Metre yacht, checked out archive rooms at the International Tennis Hall of Fame and toured The Breakers mansion. These are things you have to think of when letting charter guests know what they can do in Newport.”
Perhaps the most anticipated challenge at the Newport Charter Show is the Charter Yacht Chef’s Competition, and this year it was made extra special by sponsor Shoreside Support supplied the ingredients for a “mystery basket” that each of the seven competing chefs received a day before the event. It included Wagyu beef cheeks, halibut cheeks, local razor clams, caviar and specialty fruits, vegetables and micros that were to be incorporated into both an adult and child’s version of a theoretical charter lunch or dinner serving, with the theme “luxurious comfort.”
The winner of it all was TCB’s Chef Alex Flannery (Tampa, Fla.). He created a high-end surf-and-turf “Taco Tuesday” entry, and the judges – Bruce Newbury, "The Food Dude” - WADK and syndicated radio host and columnist; Kitty McGowan, president of US Superyacht Association and former yacht chef; and Shoreside Support’s New England Manager of Client Relations Cole Bettony – loved his concept and the way he tied together the adult tacos and child’s quesadilla, using all but one of the ingredients in the basket to cater differently to both palates.
“Both dishes were super delicious, looked beautiful, and his was the only entry to use pickled elements (rhubarb and florentino), said Bettony. “Any charter guest – and the kids – would light up when served this. Chef Alex understood the assignment and he executed very well.”
Chef Alex jumped into a charter chef life after working in fine dining restaurants and as a pastry chef for 15 years. He has also cooked for royal families on Belle Island and celebrities on Over Yonder and David Copperfield’s Musha Cay. “I enjoyed the intensity of the competition and the opportunity to be creative and improvise. I chose a lunch dish because it’s casually comfortable, yet you can achieve so much with it.” Despite his laid-back demeanor, Chef Alex admitted that he felt pressed for time due to a busy schedule preparing food for the crew as well as for broker luncheons and other gatherings.
“We all know that what makes yacht chartering work is the people: the brokers, the yacht managers, suppliers, shipyard/marina staff and especially captains and crew,” said Winifred “Winnie” DeCoster, a long-time charter yacht provision specialist who organized the Chef’s challenge and emceed the closing awards. “Part of the charm of the Newport Charter show is the intimate, friendly vibe, where people arrive at set-up only connected with their boat and boat mates and leave with a dock full of friends that they will see all over New England during their summer season.”