Yacht-sharing startups vie to rule the waves

Economist 21 June 2018

Two firms, Boatsetter and Click&Boat, would like most privately owned boats to be shareable

ONE of the busiest times of the year at Arzal marina on the coast of western France is a wooden sailing-boat festival in early summer. Hundreds of enthusiasts join Breton dances on the quayside, but as usual most of the 1,000-or so yachts, catamarans, day-sailers and motor-cruisers remain tied to the pontoons.
Few boat-owners make regular use of their expensive assets. By one estimate, a French yacht slips its moorings on average for just ten days a year, and for America’s 12m recreational boats, typical annual usage is two weeks. Meanwhile, would-be sailors have had few options, beyond pricey short charters.
Marine versions of property-sharer Airbnb or ride-sharer BlaBlaCar are trying to match the two. In Europe a French firm founded in 2013 by Jeremy Bismuth and Edouard Gorioux sets the pace. Click&Boat has 70 staff crammed onto a barge, its headquarters, on the Seine in Paris. They manage bookings for a fleet of 22,000 private craft, mostly in Europe. Rental costs vary widely but can be remarkably cheap—one eight-berth yacht in Arzal is advertised for just €40 a day, for example. The firm takes a 15% commission and is profitable. Last year bookings were worth €15m.