Cesar Abi Akl
"This is how I
This is how I Started - Cesar Abi Akl
Longstanding Interest in BOATS
The personable Cesar Abi Akl was kind enough to sit with
BatoAutoMoto at the Sailing Plus offices in Dbaye, to speak
about his business, and his longstanding interest in boats.
The interview finished at La Marina Dbaye, as Cesar was more
than willing to give us a tour of the extremely fine boats
that Sailing Plus currently has for sale, and for charter.
1. Can you speak about how you became involved in the yacht
I did civil engineering studies at ESIB, and then I did a
PhD in Marine Engineering in Ancona, Italy. Together with
oceanic captain license and 150000 miles on my log book.
This is how I started, I did consulting in the beginning,
and then in 2001, I started this company. SAILING PLUS
s.a.r.l at first was a sailing school, a yacht club at La
Marina, and day Charter company . Then we started selling
more and more boats, today we sell motor boats and sailing
boats, we are the only company to sell sailing boats in
Lebanon, new and used. We sell sunseeker yachts and We are
dealers for Hanse moody fjord dehler and Bavaria
2. Please tell me about some the boats that you have
currently at Sailing Plus?
We have 38 Boats at the moment, 24 of them are for charter,
14 are for sale, used and new . We have new bavaria motor
yachts for sale, new Hanse sailing boats for sale, one
Sunseeker yacht for sale, and used boats for sale. In 2009
we sold one HATTERAS 114 one CRN 46m one AZIMUT 100
one PRINCESS 22m one AZIMUT 80 one AZIMUT 86s one
FAIRLINE squadron 62 one SUNSEEKER 86 one SUNSEEKER 74
one SUNSEEKER 70 12 BAVARIA motor boats 3 HANSE
sailing yachts - many cabin cruisers and speed boats .
No one can beat our prices, especially for used motoryachts
as we have offices in Florida and Athens .
For charter we have:
OMEGA 85 m superyacht in Greece .
SEITA 70 m vessel in Lebanon
AZIMUT 100 30 m megayacht in Lebanon CNATIERI DI PISA 28m megayacht in Lebanon
AZIMUT 80 26m megayacht in Lebanon
SUNSEEKER 74 24 m yacht in Lebanon
PRINCESS 22m in Lebanon
And 12 other boats for day charter ranging from 10m to 20m .These boats can be chartered for cruising, parties or big
Our most popular boat CANTIERI DI PISA can take 65 people,
with crew, fuel , drinks and snacks with music and dancing :
it will cost all together around $5,000 for a day .
We work with big hotels, Phoenicia, Royal Habtoor, Grand
, and through the hotels we receive many
clients from Europe and the Middle Eastern countries.
Prices range from $1,000 a day for a cabin cruiser 10m , up
to an Omega 85 meter boat in Greece for 400000 euros a week
. The most frequent rentals are 12m 15m boats for 1500 $
to 2500 $ all inclusive .
3. What is the boat you have for personal use, and what
is the most enjoyable trip you ever took with it?
For my personal use, I have a Hanse 63 Sailing boat . This
is a new generation of epoxy sailing boats - made in
Germany, she is a cruiser racer very fast and very
confortable. The aspect that I enjoy the most is speed
sailing. I crossed the Atlantic with a similar boat, with
the ARC rally ( atlantic rally for cruisers ) There were
200 boats, and we had the only Lebanese flag, everybody was
asking "what is this flag!?".
We went from Las Palmas - Canary Islands, to Santa Lucia in
the Caribbean, and we won in our category.
4. How has your company grown and changed in the past 10
The company has grown very fast, except when there were
political disturbances of course. Now we are 100 times
larger than in 2001. We have 42 employees, we have fourteen
cars, three offices : Lebanon, Dubai, and Athens, Greece. We
sell an average of 50 boats per year, this year we sold
about 60. The sailing boat market is growing, because of the
cost of fuel, the pollution levels, and also because of new
sailing technology that makes it easier to handle.
As for the figures of the company, this year we sold 57
motor yachts, and three sailing boats. The market is mainly
dominated by second hand motor yachts.
5. Have there been any business developments this past
year as tourism in Lebanon skyrocketed?
Yes of course. Actually, in 2008 we doubled the sales in
charter and sales, and in 2009 numbers tripled. People come
from abroad, and to charter a boat here is less expensive
than chartering the same boat for example, in Europe. Daily
rentals are growing at an incredible rate. We always charter
our boats with a skipper. The season slows down over the
winter, but in the summer, make sure to call at least
several days in advance!
We offer the service of management so we can charter boats
of our clients after they buy from us, which reduces
expenses and keeps the boat in mint condition.
7. Are fishing boats included in your business and is there
demand for them?
Demand is growing as trawling is becoming more and more
popular, we rent and sell many fishing boats. We charter
fishing boats for the day, ranging from $1,000 a day, with
skipper, sailor, crew, fishing gear, for eight people, to
$8,000 a day for 25 people, including professional fishing
gear on sportfisher yacht.
8. In terms of aesthetics, what is most important to you
when looking at a yacht and why: the shape (the exterior),
or the detailing and comfort of the interior?
Here in Lebanon we look at the lines of the boat mainly.
In America for example and some gulf countries, people often
have boats that are classic from the outside, but the inside
is very nice. In our market they look mostly at the exterior
lines, which is the European style.
9. Concerning boats in general, what do you find to be the
most important - safety and luxuriousness, or speed and
Safety first - lines , comfort and performance .
10. What is the most unique and enjoyable experience you
ever had on a yacht?
Crossing the Atlantic with the ARC, at night when we were
moored we used to do bbq and dinghy-race inside the
marinas. We had boats from around the world so we met people
from Europe, America, Australia and everybody had so much
11. If you could purchase and own any yacht in the world,
which would it be, and where would you go with it?
I would have a Perini Navi, an Italian motorsailor, and I
would take her around the world!
12. What is the cost of buying a boat, low, mid and high
The cheapest we have is Hanse 32 ft., 70,ooo Euros, and it
goes up to 1.5 million euros for a Hanse 630. A Bavaria
motor boat 28 ft. costs 80,000 Euros, up to 400,000 Euros
for Bavaria 46. Sunseeker yachts start around 200,000 Euros
and go up to around 20 Million Euros. Fjord fishing boats
start around 100,000 Euros, up to 300,000. This is the range
of the prices that exists for the kind of boats that we
We are mainly specialized in used megayachts 2-3 yrs old
,as new condition for half the price new.
13. What are the costs of maintenance, mooring, and upkeep?
The cost of upkeep and mooring varies with the size of the
Mooring costs from $200 a linear meter per year to $750 per
linear meter, per year, in Lebanon.
For mooring, the most expensive marina is Beirut marina
solidere, downtown. The second most expensive is La Marina
Dbaye and Movenpick, third is Aqua Marina, atcl , Florida
Beach, Green Beach, Halate sur mer. There are many other
small marinas around the coast, but these are the well known
ones. We heard that they will be building a marina for mega
yachts only, (over 80ft.), with dry docks.
Maintenance per year varies with the size of the boat, from
$200 a month to $2,000 a month.
14. Is there anything else that you would like to add for
What I would like to say is that people should really turn
more towards sailing boats in Lebanon. This is because there
is so much wind here on the coast, it is ideal for sailing!
Sailing boats are becoming more and more user-friendly, with
easy technology, navigation, and many options. Sailing boats
are also becoming more accessible, also because of the price
of fuel they are a more affordable option.
And there has never been better time to buy a used mega-yacht
because of the financial crisis worldwide .