Firestone Grand Prix: Superyacht Slips Available

Watching a famous auto race from the stands is one thing. Watching it from your own aft deck is quite another. This is the experience you can have at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in March. More to the point, you can enjoy it from two yacht-friendly locales. One is Port St. Pete, a megayacht-only marina. The other is the Firestone Grand Prix Yacht Club, specially created along the racecourse.

The race, from March 10 to 12, attract attracts plenty of waterborne fans. Port St. Pete already has one megayacht booked, with several other inquiries for space along its 1,200-foot-long quay, according to Walter Miller, the marina and port manager. The quay accommodate megayachts from 100 to 500 feet. (In fact, the 197-foot Podium, owned by Roger Penske of racing fame, is a frequent Grand Prix guest.) With a depth of 23 feet, both power and sailing yachts can pull alongside here. The total number of yachts varies, however, according to how long each is. On average, though, side-to, six to 10 megayachts fit.

An ISPS-compliant marina, Port St. Pete has on-site customs and immigration clearance, 24-hour security, and concierge services, among other offerings. Dockside fueling and other conveniences are available, too. While it’s not on the Firestone Grand Prix racecourse, it’s walking distance away. Furthermore, the marina staff is arranging extra benefits for captains who book slips during the event. (Details were not yet available at press time.)

As for the Firestone Grand Prix Yacht Club, it’s a set of private floating docks at turns 10 and 11 of the racecourse. It accommodates boats from 30 to 150 feet. By booking a slip, you get to see more than the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers in action. You can also see the Stadium Super Trucks, Pirelli World Challenge, and other races. To ensure you don’t miss a photo finish, slip holders get closed-circuit video feeds of all the track action. Furthermore, slip holders can use a complimentary water taxi, plus get paddock passes and pit passes. VIP parking is available, too.

Pricing and the number of passes varies according to the Firestone Grand Prix Yacht Club package purchased. Megayachts from 80 to 99 feet, with a maximum 20-foot beam, get one package. Megayachts from 100 to 150 feet, with a maximum 25-foot beam, get another. For the former, which includes 16 paddock passes and six pit passes, pricing is $9,750. The larger yachts receive 20 paddock passes and eight pit passes. Pricing is $9,500. Regardless of package, the Firestone Grand Prix Yacht Club provides electrical and freshwater connections. Furthermore, additional hospitality access and tickets are available upon request.

Asia Superyacht Rendezvous Scores Points for Phuket

Aphrodite (above) may have won the first-ever Asia Superyacht Rendezvous Winner’s Cup. But, but several other yachts, along with their owners and guests, turned the 16th-annual get-together into a weekend’s worth of revelry. What’s more, the Asia Superyacht Rendezvous, organized by Asia Pacific Superyachts, shone a light on a region gaining more popularity with superyacht cruisers.

December 16 to 18 saw power and sailing yachts gather in Thailand for the largest event of this kind held in Asian waters. The Asia Superyacht Rendezvous is also the longest-running event of its type in the region. Motoryacht attendees included After 8, Azul A, and Vie San Soucis, with Azul A also serving as the committee boat. They marked the race course where the sailing yachts competed for bragging rights. Those competitors were Aphrodite, Bliss, Dallinghoo, and Tiara.

Day one of racing kicked off with calm seas and light wind—not terribly exciting, you might think. However, three of the yachts finished within a minute of each other. The second, and last, day of racing was promising, with stiff winds—and double points earned. Capt. Simon Blundell of Aphrodite cheerfully ribbed his fellow captains and competitors in accepting the trophy cup at the gala dinner that evening. They can get back at him, though, as he pledged Aphrodite will be back for 2017’s Asia Superyacht Rendezvous.

Other events over the weekend captured the attention and imagination of owners, guests, captains, and crew, too. These included a cocktail party aboard Dunia Baru, the sailing superyacht built as traditional Indonesian two-masted sailing ship. Another activity was the annual Benetti Challenge. Crews and sponsors’ representatives formed teams to build a model boat from a simple kit. “Simple” is the key word, as organizers described the contents as being “bits and pieces of wood, fabric, plastic.” Not only did they have to build a model boat, but they also had to sail it. That required blowing with all their might into the tiny sails as the boat floated along a three-foot trough.

All of the on-land activities took place at the SALA Resort Phuket, a resort on the famous Mai Khao beach. It’s the longest beach in Phuket and remains mostly undeveloped. The resort’s general manager, Jon Ashenden, says that sponsoring the Asia Superyacht Rendezvous “was the best thing we did. It’s brought exposure to the brand, and brought great recognition to the destination on Mai Khao.”

Mark Robba, owner of Dunia Baru, agrees with the regional recognition. “The cruising grounds around Southeast Asia are a superyacht owner’s dream,” he avers. “Phuket is a wonderful place for such a prestigious global gathering of superyachts, their owners, VIP guests, and crew.” He adds, “We have wanted to join the Asia Superyacht Rendezvous for a number of years, but our schedules have never before matched. However, last year we had such positive feedback from our clients in regards to chartering in the Mergui Archipelago, we decided to come to Thailand earlier this year, lending us the opportunity to also join this prestigious event.”