Author: Category: Entertainment

Interview With the Editor of the Magazine „Optimist” and Yachtsman Yuris Ailis

1In the last few years yacht and speedboat infrastructure is getting a dynamic development in Latvia. There are new piers created nearby the biggest reservoirs in Riga region, as well as other activities carried out for infrastructure development.

Yachtsmen in Latvia (owners of sailing yachts and speedboats) can be grouped into two categories: recreation and sports. People who are attributed to the first category are generally purchasing speedboat, motor boat or a small sailing yacht with the purpose „to set out to the sea” during weekends, for a pleasurable pastime with their friends or families. The second category of people regard sailing as sports, and „to go out into the sea” is most often being a hobby;normally these people are participating in Regattas and races, besides they are paying much more attention to their boat and its technical maintenance. It is worth mentioning that the people who regard sailing as sports would most often perform technical maintenance themselves, as for instance, together with their sailing team, whereas the people who view sailing as a pastime activity would normally use the services of the company providing service and maintenance works. If some time ago every captain would perform maintenance of his boat every spring and autumn with his team, then now when sailing has turned into an expensive and prestigious pastime activity, boat owners are mainly prosperous businessmen who are entrusting their „ship’s” maintenance to the professionals.

Notwithstanding the fact that the biggest sailing yacht and speedboat dealers are offering technical maintenance works, there are quite few experts in Latvia performing sailing yacht and speedboat maintenance works, furthermore, they are overloaded with work. Under contemporary conditions in Latvia, the owners of sailing yachts and speedboats are looking for the specialists performing sailing yacht and speedboat maintenance works through their friends, and are not addressing the companies providing the same service directly, as generally they are not capable of providing qualitative and quick service. If only 5-10 years ago people would be purchasing used models of 70-80s, or would be giving preference to the models of Polish origin, then the contemporary customers are convinced in the fact that there is no use in saving on purchasing old yacht or speedboat of a little known brand, as afterwards serious problems may appear with searches for spare parts and technical maintenance, and thereby there is a probability that the boat would not be able to sail anymore, and consequently the only opportunity will be left – to „cut” it into scrap metal, thus, only providing reimbursement for crane and transport. Thereby, the contemporary customers are well-informed people, who are making their choice in favour of famous brands-manufacturers of sailing yachts, as there is always an opportunity to find practically all the needed spare parts and equipment through catalogues. There are still no big service centres and water vehicle maintenance centres in Latvia, compared to Scandinavian countries and Estonia, where this industry is strongly developed. At the same time it is worth mentioning that repairing and maintenance service of water transport in Latvia is slower and less available compared to other business directions. According to the yachtsman Yuris Ailis, “The sea does not forgive technical flaws!!”

Small harbours and piers have to be mentioned in connection with water transport infrastructure, as they are being an essential element both for the local seafarers and for the foreign yachtsmen and tourists, who are using the speedboat as a transport vehicle. For instance, in Estonia – in Tartu, Tallinn and the island of Saaremaa practically all the small harbours and piers have new pontoons, there is a berth, a person on duty, sauna and shower available;at the same time nearby the harbours there are lodging places, as well as pubs (catering places). These are main requirements which are satisfactory for every yachtsman and that are attracting the tourists to the port and to the city;these are the preconditions for small business development. At the same time small harbours are not developed in Latvia, and notwithstanding the fact that there are many local enthusiasts, there is not witnessed practically any support on the part of self-governments, whereas the attraction of finances from the EU is a time-consuming and red-tape process. Devoid of any material interests, the local enthusiasts would be happy to participate in development of small harbours, however, this is quite hard to realize.

If in Finland, Tallinn, Sweden and other Baltic Sea countries, the sailing yacht and speedboat infrastructure is getting developed because its development is aided by the state, local governments, local entrepreneurs, different national foundations and even statesmen who are being the active yachtsmen themselves, then in Latvia the sailing yacht and speedboat infrastructure is getting developed in leaps, and for drastic turn towards development a „shock therapy” is needed. For example, before holding the International Regatta “Cutty Stark” in Riga in 2002, there had been a reconstruction of the central port performed, as well as new pontoons were constructed in the port “Andrejosta”;after numerous reports of the round-the-world voyage of Maris Gailis, many businessmen by their houses nearby reservoirs like the river Daugava, the river Lielupe, the lake Kishezers and others started to develop private piers for their speedboats, and after successful exhibition “Riga Boatshow” that has been held this year there is witnessed a considerable increase in the new sailing yacht and boat realization and similar activity. 

The editor of the magazine “Optimist” Yuris Ailis was asked about the sailing yacht and speedboat sale, as well as about contemporary trends in the Latvian market. According to Yuris, a wide range of choice is available, and the selection is very individual;however, “there is no need to be mean”, and at the same time “there is no need to go too far”. For family trips in the inland waters a boat of 12-th meters and longer is needed, which can be purchased for about one hundred thousand Lats, whereas for those who would like to set out to the open sea to Scandinavia or Central European countries it is futile to purchase a 5-8th meter long boat. The Latvian dealers (brokers) are competent enough and will give accurate and objective information to the customer when he will be choosing the water vehicle. The dealers’ prices are practically equal all over Europe, and among the leading brands there is witnessed an equal price policy. Many Latvian yachtsmen are bringing water vehicles from abroad. For example, Zeta-3 is a popular model, which is brought from the USA, as well as lately there is witnessed a trend to bring used water vehicles from Sweden and Finland. According to Yuris Ailis, it is quite possible to purchase a used water vehicle in good condition for 10 000EUR;however, the range of selection and opportunities „on an increasing price scale” is really wide;however it should be mentioned that there are few new sailing yachts that are arriving in the Latvian market – normally when a new water vehicle is purchased it is a speedboat. The Latvian fleet of small-sized water vehicles is mainly made up by the models of the 80s, intended for family trips;however, when a person is facing a choice whether to buy a big according to its size but used sailing yacht, or smaller... not always the choice is made in favour of new models.

According to the information provided to the portal by the editor of the magazine „Optimist” Yuris Ailis, there is a wrong belief in Latvia about the fact that sailing is a privilege of chosen ones and that it is available only to very well-off people. Generally those people who are interested in sailing and those who have a desire to „set out to the sea” have vast opportunities, and they are not always related to big financial expenses. It is not that hard to become a member of an average sailing team, as there are quite few loyal young yachtsmen in Latvia, and a lot of sailing yachts are lacking in team members. When becoming a part of a sailing team, one has to be geared up for hard work related to sailing yacht maintenance, its cleaning and maintaining in proper technical condition. Hard work will continue on the deck as well – exercises, races and Regattas, and they do not have anything in common with the scenes we sometimes can see in the films –for example, champagne on the shining deck of a glamorous speedboat – oasis of the Caribbean Sea. For example, the teams of the sporting yachts like “Spaniel” are made up by the well coordinated staff, which is engaged in maintaining proper technical condition of the sailing yacht, participates in races, and in the same way the sailing yacht is the property of every member of the team.

It has to be mentioned that in order to set out to the sea and start practicing sailing... – „money is not needed”;however, to make sailing a „prestigious pastime activity” – „a tight-filled purse” will be needed.


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