HOOFDDORP – From the outset of Russia’s onslaught on Ukraine, media reports have turned Russian-owned superyachts into icons of Vladimir Putin’s callousness. How big an issue is this?

Industry data shows Russian-owned mega yachts account for 7 to 10% of the global fleet, which Amsterdam-based Superyacht Times puts at 8,754 vessels.

Dutch superyacht yards have made yachts for Russian clients. Still, their number can be easily overstated, says Farouk Nefzi, chief marketing officer of Feadship, a premier Dutch maker of highly customized yachts.

“Of the 590 yachts we have delivered since 1949,” Nefzi tells this newsletter. “Eight were for Russian clients. That’s less than 1 %. The majority of our clients – i.e., 99% — comes from the United States and Europe, without Russia.”

Nefzi says the Ukraine war and the economic sanctions it triggered have had no impact on Feadship’s operations. “I think the impact is more in the sense that it’s quite easy to target the superyacht industry,” he adds. “It will impact our image in the short term, but we have nothing to hide.”

Nefzi declined to elaborate on Feadship’s clients.

“We take the privacy of our clients very seriously and do not communicate publicly about them,” he said. Historically, however, Feadship’s focus has always been on serving the US market first.”

Damen Shipyards Group of the Netherlands, whose Damen Yachting unit has made vessels for rich Russians, has halted all work on Russia-bound ships. The company said the move will have a substantial impact on the company.

These days, the Dutch superyacht sector is assessing the way forward as unprecedented sanctions slam the government in Moscow and rich Russians who nurture cozy relations with it.

Across the Dutch superyacht industry –a dozen or so yards – there is a sense the Ukraine war will upend years of good growth. In 2020, the Holland Yachting Group of superyacht builders and their suppliers won orders of €2.15bn, double that of 2019. The value of 2020 order books was €5.38bn.