Navigator sits down with Northrop & Johnson Yacht Broker Todd Rittenhouse to discuss his experience and expertise in yachting.
Q What is your background within the yachting industry and how did you come to be a yacht broker?
A At a young age, I learned to sail from my father, who is an avid sailor and second-generation merchant mariner. When I was 19, I got a job as a deckhand on a 1928 65-foot staysail schooner. That experience got me hooked on the ocean and I decided to attend the California Maritime Academy where I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Transportation; I also received an unlimited tonnage Coast Guard license. After several years of commercial shipping, I was allowed to get back into yachting as a broker at Ardell. I spent more than 10 years with the company before joining Northrop & Johnson. I helped open Northrop & Johnson’s Newport Beach office.
Q What is your best advice to a first-time yacht buyer?
A Do your homework and take advantage of the resources available to you. In addition to all of the information available on the Internet, your broker and the surveyors that you hire have years of experience; they will be more than willing to share this knowledge with you. Use all the tools and information available to help you make the best and most informed decisions for you and your family.
Q What is the most important facet to a successful yacht sale?
A Communication. It’s crucially important that brokers establish clear lines of communication between all parties involved during the sale of a yacht. Information should be exchanged in a clear, transparent and efficient manner. When all parties are on the same page, more often than not, it ensures a smooth sale.
Q What, in your opinion, are the biggest trends happening in yacht design?
A The technological advancements in glass are dramatically changing the way superyachts look. Feadship has blazed the trail with recent projects like VENUS, MUSASHI and COMO. I expect this trend to grow as shipyards continue to learn about and develop glass technology. I think we can anticipate large pieces of glass utilized as structural elements of yachts. Lighting is another area in which innovative and creative solutions are prevalent; it is following the recent trends and technologies in land-based architecture. Specialist lighting consultants are becoming more common in large custom builds; these trends eventually also will become commonplace in semi-custom and production platforms.
Q Where, in your opinion, do you see the global yacht brokerage market going
in the next five years?
A The scarcity of late-model brokerage yachts will get a little relief as shipyards are finally building boats again. That being said, the focus of demand will continue to be concentrated on later model boats with newer designs, advanced technology and more environmentally-friendly propulsion systems. There have been some interesting refits throughout the last few years — it will be exciting when those boats eventually come to the market.
Q What makes Northrop & Johnson stand out among other brokerage companies?
A Northrop & Johnson is a unique blend of heritage, which comes with being in business for 67 years, and a willingness and ability to evolve in the dynamic landscape of the current fast-paced business environment. Our intelligence systems, marketing programs, website and support structure are among the best in the industry. With offices on four continents, Northrop & Johnson has a truly global reach. Most importantly, Northrop & Johnson has an established standard of employing professionals and providing us with the tools needed to deliver the best possible service to our clients.
Q What are your five must-have features on a yacht?
A My five must-have features aboard a yacht are easy access to the water (either a large swim step or cockpit), spacious crew quarters with excellent crew access and serviceability, ample outdoor space and room for toys!