Mike Dicondina was looking at the numbers. As president of Hargrave Custom Yachts, he knew that the builder’s 100-footers did well on the charter market. “But I noticed on our 125 that we were able to get double the amount of money, about $85,000 a week versus $45,000,” he says. “That’s a big difference.”
He started talking with a charter-savvy owner who had already built three yachts with Hargrave, all in the 100-foot range. DiCondina told the owner about the income disparity on charter bookings, as well as the build-quality success that Hargrave had found with the 114-foot Donna Marie II, which launched in 2013 on a newly designed hull by noted naval architect Jack Sarin.
“We’re moving into the next niche in the market, and he has always been a forefront leader for us,” DiCondina says of the owner. “I said, ‘For the future, down the road, why don’t we try to make a five-stateroom boat with the on-deck master?’”
That’s how the idea was born for the 116-foot Hargrave Renaissance. She made her world debut this past February at the Yachts Miami Beach show, and by early June, DiCondina says, she already had four charters booked at the $85,000-a-week rate.
DiCondina says the clients are responding not only to the yacht’s size, but more specifically to her performance and layout. The owner of Renaissance plans to move the yacht seasonally between New England and the Bahamas, where her shallow, 6-foot draft is key for charter clients who want to get close to the beaches. With a cruising speed of 20 knots and a top speed of 23 knots, DiCondina says, Renaissance is also plenty fast for charter clients who want itineraries with more than just a handful of islands or ports along the way.
“We were shooting for 24 knots,” he says. “We hit 23. But for us, I’m impressed. Normally, a Hargrave tops out at 21 knots.”
DiCondina says that many charter clients are also responding to the accommodations layout aboard Renaissance. Each of the five guest staterooms has either a permanent king-size berth or a set of twins that can convert to kings.
“It’s huge for charter,” he says. “That’s one of the things, when we were designing the boat, we really honed in on. We wanted to set it up so that you had four or five couples. We didn’t want anybody feeling slighted. You can split the cost.”
Fit and finish aboard Renaissance are the same high quality for which Hargrave has long been known. The owner chose sapele mahogany with neutral fabrics, which he also had aboard his previous Hargrave (he found that the decor created a traditional ambience most charter clients liked).
The owner also worked with Hargrave to ensure that the builder maximized volume for guest enjoyment. Originally, the build was going to be 112 feet length overall. At the final 116-foot LOA, more possibilities presented themselves.
“When you go up to the flybridge, you have a large, expansive area,” DiCondina says. “Ten people on the boat are not going to be tight. You have the four lounge chairs aft, three separated seating areas, seating across from the bar. Space-wise, it’s really well done for a group of people to be together and not be on top of each other.”
Renaissance is chartering under the command of longtime Capt. Doug Meier, who has stocked her with countless water toys, including a remote-operated vehicle with the same kind of technology used to find the Titanic (see “Play a Whole New Way,” March 2016). As the captain and owner continue to perfect the charter program, might an even larger Hargrave be in the owner’s future?
“This is probably his last,” DiCondina says, “but his wife is a little younger, and she said to me, ‘Don’t worry, I’m not out.’”