Yas Marina to increase berths ahead of Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix

Yas Marina is set to increase the number of berths it offers as demand for boat space peaks ahead of the busy Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix weekend.

In the run up to the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix, Yas Marina is creating an additional 32 berths on top of its current capacity of 143. Delores Johnson / The National
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Yas Marina is set to increase its size by 20 per cent as sinking berth prices have dramatically buoyed demand this year.

The marina, which cut its berth fees at the end of last year to stimulate demand, has more than doubled its annual members in the past year as demand for berths among small-boat owners has swelled.

In the run up to the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix, the marina is creating an additional 32 berths on top of its current capacity of 143 to cater for the growing number of boat owners seeking space for their vessels.

"People are a bit more confident now and started spending a bit more money," said Cedric Le Rest, the general manager at Yas Marina. "We really saw strong demand from [smaller boats]."

The marina has been managed by Camper & Nicholsons Marinas, a global yachting company, since July last year.

"The addition of these 32 new berths is in response to the growing demand for annual berths for the 8 metre to 10 metre category over the past 15 months, as well as higher than expected interest in this year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix," said Mr Le Rest.

The marina is still not 100 per cent full but Mr Le Rest expects it to be at full capacity for the racing weekend and said it could extend its volume above capacity to squeeze in more vessels for the weekend.

Berths for yachts up to 150 metres are still available for the Grand Prix weekend, including some with trackside views. "The demand is as expected, we will have more boats than last year," said Mr Le Rest. "We have less berths available because we have so many annual tenants. We can always find a corner for an additional boat."

Yas Marina was charging annual rates starting from Dh68,850 (US$18,744) for a 15 metre berth but slashed these prices at the end of the year.

Emirates Palace also began offering rates at a third off at the end of last year after opening in May.

At Yas Marina, one-year berths now start at Dh16,455 for an 8 metre boat, which includes space at the F1 weekend. Prices go up to Dh491,400 for a berth that for a 120 metre yacht.

Mr Le Rest said more people had been buying smaller boats this year for recreational use and the industry was looking more positive.

"Hopefully, you start with a smaller one and in a few years you get another and add a few more metres to your boat," he said.

Earlier this year, Seawings, a seaplane operator based in Dubai, said it had partnered Yas Marina to run aerial sightseeing flights from Dubai to Abu Dhabi.