Robb Read: Are We On a Private Flight To Climate Hell?

Private aviation’s booming. Critics say flying’s wrecking the planet, but what are the facts?

By Mark Ellwood 23/05/2022

There’s never been a busier time for private aviation. Vista Global Holdings, for example, reported a 64 percent rise year on year in 2021 for its VistaJet and XO brands, and fractional behemoth NetJets reported a 30 per cent rise vs pre-pandemic levels. That boom, of course, was powered mostly by the switch to private flying as a result of Covid-19, but it’s likely to continue even as we move out of the pandemic phase: 92 per cent of the members of Private Jet Card Comparisons said they would fly the same or more in 2022 versus last year. Another 95 per cent said they would renew their card or program memberships.

But should we be getting on planes at all—let alone flying private? Are the environmental costs too great? Are carbon offsets just a way to relieve guilt and greenwash airline travel?

As the world’s attention on climate change intensifies, anti-take-off efforts are, well, taking off. Take the concept of flygskam, or flight shame. This Swedish-birthed anti-aviation campaign leverages social pressure to keep folks grounded: Cut out flights, flygskam-ers posit, and you’re making major sacrifices to offset climate change. Nothing’s worse in the sector than private aviation, with its let-them-eat-cake-at-60,000-feet reputation: Per one study, flying private can produce eight times more emissions per person than comparable jaunts on commercial carriers. So with a surge in private flying, and that sense of impending, aviation-induced doom, are we on the flightpath to hell?

Flightpath to Hell Climate Change

Worldwide flights produced 915 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2019, or 3.5 per cent of total output, while private aviation accounted for 37.1 million tons. Courtesy AP

The facts, of course, are a little more complicated. First, some data: Worldwide flights produced 915 million tons of CO2 in 2019, though the entire human output of that pollution was 43 billion tons total in the same year. By most estimates, per data from 2018, flying produces around 2.5 percent of global CO2 emissions, or 3.5 percent of what’s known as “effective radiative forcing”—think of that as its overall impact. Another study says that business aviation contributes just 2 per cent to overall aviation emissions, but that on a per-person basis, its emissions are much more damaging on a per-person basis.  One study of private aviation’s annual contribution to greenhouse gas emissions pegged it at 37.1 million tons.

On the flip side, the Air Transport Action Group, an industry-funded body, touts that aviation overall would rank 17th in the world if its economic activity is compared with individual countries, or around the same as the Netherlands.

“Aircraft are tools of global trade—they can’t fly on fairy dust and neither can the global economy,” says Hong Kong-based Paul Jebely, head of asset finance at law firm Withers Worldwide; he works with UHNW folks across the world every day to buy and finance private planes. “There are lots of armchair Captain Planets who willfully overlook, or fail to recognize, the second- or third-order consequences of their flight shaming. That iPhone permanently glued to their hands has a bigger footprint to get into someone’s hand thanks to shipping, logistics and mining. But let’s go ahead and replace the aviation component with carrier pigeons on a gluten-free diet and, somehow, it’ll all be better.”

Portrait of Paul Jebely, head of asset finance at law firm Withers Worldwide

Paul Jebely Withers Worldwide

Jebely’s numbers are off: per one estimate, the lifetime carbon footprint of an iPhone is around 168 lbs of CO2-e (carbon dioxide or equivalent greenhouse gas); Apple’s own data shows that the environmental footprint of an iPhone 13Pro varies from 69kg- 111kg of CO2-e, depending on storage memory capacity. It’s hard to quantify the average carbon footprint of private jet travel, given variations in plane capacity and fuel efficiency, but by one estimate, the per person environmental impact of flying private is around 631 lbs of CO2-e per hour. The BBC Reality Check team’s own calculations produced a figure of 430kg per person for the same period.

Still, the truth is that there’s still good reason to make efforts to minimise the climate impact of every private flight.  Sustainability in this sector is in its infancy, but many leaders are making worthwhile strides. It’s responsible and responsive; corporations, too, are increasingly setting goals that include targets around CO2 emissions related to their business, including jet flights. The nimbleness of this sector, as well as the higher margins compared with commercial operation, mean that innovation should ignite more readily here. “Everyone in the entire aviation industry is well aware of the necessity of reducing aviation’s climate impact while also being aware of the fact that we’re bearing a heavier burden than other industries because of the public pressure,” Jebely continues. “But private aviation can and must and will do better.”

Jebely points, for example, to efforts by OEMs like Bombardier and Gulfstream to improve the footprint of their production processes. Fractional and charter firms, of course, are keen to tout their commitments to climate—NetJets, for example, now includes carbon offsets in all proposals, and has committed to buying 450 million litresof sustainable fuel from WasteFuel. Sustainable aviation fuel, which still has extremely limited distribution around the world, can cut aircraft emissions by 80 percent. No firm, though, goes as far as London-based Victor.

Flightpath to Hell Climate Change

Earlier this month, Bremen airport in Germany offered the airport’s first fueling with sustainable aviation fuel. Courtesy AP

The firm has established a program in which it pays for 200 per cent of every flight its clients charter. The money comes from Victor’s own bottom line, rather than as an add-on to its clients’ invoices. Last year, for instance, the company organized flights totalling 2.7 million nautical miles, which created 27,906 tons of emissions. Victor purchased 60,128 carbon credits that were invested in forest restoration and wind-power projects in Borneo, Cambodia and Turkey. The company bought 93 per cent of the credits, while its clients contributed 7 per cent. “My personal gold standard is to avoid flying whenever possible and the middle ground is to reduce how much we can fly,” says Victor Chairman Clive Jackson, who launched the program. “To mitigate means that if you have to fly then at least have the good grace to clean up after yourself.”  Translation: Buy carbon offsets or use sustainable aviation fuel.

Jackson says he brokers around 5,000 flights for clients per year, versus the 300,000 or so that, for instance, industry giant NetJets handles.

Carbon offsetting isn’t endorsed as a practice by all climate-change experts. “It has a long history of not lowering carbon levels,” says Greenpeace UK’s Charlie Kronick, who notes that his own organization doesn’t buy them as they don’t actually reduce the amount of carbon dioxide discharged into the atmosphere, the key metric for Greenpeace. “They are too often based on exaggerated claims of emissions reductions,” he says, “A one-off payment for a carbon credit does not assure the growth of trees, nor protection of forests from fires or industrial pressures.“

Clive Jackson, CEO of Victor

Clive Jackson, CEO of Victor Victor

While carbon offsetting is important, it’s much less sexy than another option touted as a solution to flying private, guilt-free: eVTOLs, (Electric Vehicle Take Off and Landing aircraft). Those Tony Stark-like concept planes rely on climate-friendly fuel for propulsion and take off and land much like helicopters. No wonder, then, that the real-life Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr, has invested in Whisper Aero, one of the startups aiming to pioneer this technology. The commitment has been attention-grabbing enough that it’s persuaded several celebrities to invest in different firms, including the J-Lo-backed Archer, and Larry Page’s Wisk, which have been embroiled in legal tussles.

The eVTOL segment, which has attracted serious financial investors for a half-dozen brands, expects to see it first electric aircraft certified in 2024 and 2025, with widespread adoption expected closer to 2030. Besides their emissions-free credentials, they will also offer new ways to commute within cities and regions., though eVTOL aircraft are likely to come into service as cargo carriers before being adopted for passenger transport.

Mike Hirschberg, the executive director of the Vertical Flight Society, the leading  eVTOL association, says battery technology will need to progress to increase range for the aircraft before there is widespread commercial use. Hirschberg adds that it’s vital that work on an infrastructure for eVTOLs starts sooner than later, and forecasts it will be at least a decade before eVTOLs are mainstream.

A wisk Aerotaxi in flight

A wisk Aerotaxi in flight

In the meantime, the industry is looking at piecemeal solutions. Kennedy Ricci, whose family owns Directional Aviation,  just launched 4Air, which offers a certification program that aims to be the eco equivalent of the safety ratings produced by industry-standards firm Argus. The start-up doesn’t handle flights, either as an operator or a broker, but instead works with companies that do to both improve their sustainability efforts and certify their actions to reassure clients. CSG targets at corporations are key drivers for his business growth, but Ricci tells Robb Report that there’s another audience that’s critical: “We see it’s a lot about employees—companies wanting to retain good talent who want to work for a more sustainable firm. They want to show their employees they’re trying to be better stewards.

The cost of partnering with 4Air on a flight program is minimal, per Ricci—a few hundred dollars at most per hour of flying for its most intensive certification. 4Air offers four tiers in its program, ranging from simple carbon neutrality in level 1, or Bronze, to a commitment to sustainable fuels in Gold or level 3—that’s a commitment to not just offset but also reduce emissions. The fourth tier, Platinum, is the company’s most ambitious: It involves a commitment to underwriting innovation in aviation via a contribution to the 4Air-helmed nonprofit Aviation Climate Fund. It focuses on research and development, working with innovators around the world, including the team at the Whittle Laboratory at Britain’s University of Cambridge. That lab is named after the jet engine inventor who graduated from the same university, and Professor Rob Miller is one of its current team.

Contrails from a jet airliner

Contrails from a jet airliner Adobe Stock

SAF and eVTOLs are, of course, potential solutions to the climate crisis when it comes to private flying, Miller says, but there are other, more unexpected ways that private aviation can lead the reduction in CO2. Take condensation trails, or contrails, for example. These remain in the upper atmosphere for far less time than carbon dioxide—hours versus years. “But nitrous oxide produced when you burn nitrogen in an aircraft, that’s a greenhouse gas, and soot is going into the atmosphere, too. The contrails can form cirrus clouds, too, and that has a global-warming effect,” he says, “When you add all those together, you find that CO2 is only really half the problem.”

Reducing contrails, then, should be a focus for aviation innovation, he says, citing work on hydrogen fuel-cell aircraft. “The hydrogen that reacts in the fuel cell is closer to the environmental temperature outside, so it doesn’t produce nitrous oxide or soot. And we don’t know for sure, but you may also be able to condense out some of the water.” Miller also points to routings of planes as an easy way to improve sustainability: Aircraft flying in the Gulf Stream across the Atlantic, for example, are more fuel efficient. “Right now, you have to be at a certain distance from each other because air traffic control is not good enough to allow them to be closer.” Aircraft manufacturers have changed their avionics to fly more efficient routes, resulting in an estimated five to ten percent reduction in emissions. All of these tweaks are more readily adopted by nimbler private flying firms, of course, than any large, commercial airliner.

Miller’s insights highlight easier wins that the aviation industry has overlooked. Congested air traffic control or ATC systems, for example, contribute hugely to emissions: Operational planes spend 15 percent of their time on the ground rather than in the air, burning fuel all the while. One fix touted by Paul Jebely is TSAS, a NASA-championed program from 2017 that promises to streamline ATCs. “The most important advancement aviation can make, globally right now, whether commercial or private, is making ATC systems way more efficient,” he says, “This is basically like a super software update to air navigation and ground control systems and is available right now. If it had been adopted two years ago, it would already have had an impact.” (Singapore’s Changi airport is currently trialing these systems.)

NASA TSAS air traffic management software simulation

NASA TSAS air traffic management software simulation NASA

It’s a reminder that there isn’t a single area where charter user and private aircraft owners should focus their sustainability efforts—carbon offsets might be box-ticking, but they’re still important. Wealthy fliers, though, can apply financial support or pressure in less familiar areas to perhaps greater effect. “People fixate on planes flying around the sky, and that’s a misplaced focus,” says Jebely. “The damage is done not just when they’re flying around but [when they’re built], and by them sitting on the ground.”

While there’s no easy solution to erasing aviation’s environmental impact, the solutions are being adopted—albeit slowly—by the leaders, and even some of the smaller firms in private aviation. Victor’s 200 percent offset program is a start, but the fact that only seven percent of its clients are willing to pay for offsets gives a sense that the change may have to come from top-down legislation or a more concerted industrywide effort to make SAF and electric aircraft more common.

Are we on the flightpath to hell with private aviation?

Many private aviation companies have launched carbon offset programs, but it’s not clear how effective they are in actually reducing carbon emissions. Courtesy AP

“We need a higher level of transparency,” says Victor’s Jackson. “I would like to see all flight movements published—was the flight a carbon-offset or not? I want it to be verified. Follow the money. We have to think about the claims that individuals and companies make as they aim to promote and differentiate themselves.

“Right now,” he continues. “There are no regulations or obligations to prove whether or not the claims companies are making are true. We need independent monitoring by region, industry and country. What goes into the atmosphere is important, but we also need to find out what we’re missing and whether our actions are working.”

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Escape from the Ordinary

Ponant, the luxury cruise line known for its meticulously planned itineraries and high-end service, ups the ante on their upcoming European Journeys that promise an unrivalled exploration of the Mediterranean.

By Robb Report Team 19/02/2024

Not all cruises are created equally. Ponant, the luxury cruise line known for its meticulously planned itineraries and high-end service, ups the ante on their upcoming European Journeys that promise an unrivalled exploration of the Mediterranean. From the stunning Amalfi Coast to the pristine Greek Islands, the narrow Corinth Canal to the picturesque Dalmatian coast, historic Istanbul and beguiling Malaga, each destination is a unique adventure waiting to be unravelled. With Ponant, these aren’t just locations on a map; they’re experiences that come alive with the intimate knowledge and insight that their expert guides provide.

Ponant’s luxury cruises are renowned for their individuality, with no two journeys the same. This is not by chance. Itineraries are scrupulously designed to ensure that each passenger is left with a feeling of having embarked on a journey unlike any other.

Athens-Venise. Photograph by N.Matheus. ©PONANT

In 2025, their fleet will set sail for a combined 56 departures from March to October, exploring the dreamy locales of Greece and the Greek Islands, Malta, Italy (including Venice and Sicily), Croatia, France, Turkey, Spain and Portugal. These European Journeys offer an intimate encounter with the Mediterranean, its people and culture. As you cruise in luxury, you’ll dive deep into the heart of each destination, exploring historic sites, engaging with locals, sampling scrumptious cuisine and soaking in the vibrant atmospheres.

The company’s small, sustainable ships, which can accommodate from as few as 32 to 264 guests, have the exclusive ability to sail into ports inaccessible to larger cruise liners, affording privileged entry into some of the world’s most treasured alcoves. Picture sailing under London’s iconic Tower Bridge, crossing the Corinth Canal, or disembarking directly onto the sidewalk during ports of call in culturally rich cities like Lisbon, Barcelona, Nice and Venice, among others.

Photo by Tamar Sarkissian. ©PONANT

This singular closeness is further enriched by destination experts who unravel the tapestry of each locale’s history and traditions.

Onboard their luxurious ships, every guest is a VIP and treated to refined service and amenities akin to sailing on a private yacht. Whether at sea or ashore, their destination experts guarantee a fascinating experience, immersing you in the rich cultural and historical diversity of each region.

Indulge in the finest gastronomy at sea, inspired by none other than gastronomic virtuoso and Ponant partner, Alain Ducasse. Each voyage offers an expertly crafted dining experience, from a-la-carte meals with perfectly matched wines by the onboard Sommelier at dinner and lunch, to a French-inspired buffet breakfast, featuring all the favourite pastries, fresh bread and quality produce.

Chef Mickael Legrand. Photograph by NickRains. ©PONANT

For a more intimate discovery, consider Le Ponant, with its 16 high-class staterooms and suites—perfect for private charter—sailing eight exclusive routes between Greece and Croatia, offering guests unparalleled experiences both onboard and ashore. Ponant’s commitment to crafting unforgettable experiences extends beyond itineraries. Aboard their ships, the luxury is in every detail. Unwind in opulent cabins and suites, each offering private balconies and breathtaking views of the azure water and destinations beyond.

Ponant’s upcoming European Journeys are more than just cruises—they’re your passport to a world of cultural immersion, historical exploration, and unrivalled luxury. Don’t miss this opportunity to embark on the voyage of a lifetime: the Mediterranean is calling.

To book European 2025 sailings visit au.ponant.com; call 1300 737 178 (AU) or 0800 767 018 (NZ) or contact your preferred travel agent.

 

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Saint Laurent Just Opened a New Bookstore in Paris. Here’s a Look Inside.

The chic new outpost is located on the city’s arty Left Bank.

By Rachel Cormack 14/02/2024

Saint Laurent is taking over even more of Paris.

The French fashion house, which only just opened an epic new flagship on Champs-Élysées, has launched a chic new bookstore on the Left Bank. Located in the 7th arrondissement, Saint Laurent Babylone is a mecca of art, music, literature, and, of course, fashion.

The new outpost is a tribute to the connection that Yves Saint Laurent and partner Pierre Bergé had to the Rue Babylone, according to Women’s Wear Daily. (In 1970, the pair moved to a 6,500-square-foot duplex on the street.) It is also inspired by the house’s original ready-to-wear boutique, Saint Laurent Rive Guache, which opened in the 6th arrondissement in 1966.

The exposed concrete in contrasted by sleek marble accents. SAINT LAURENT

With a minimalist, art gallery-like aesthetic, the space is anchored by a hefty marble bench and large black shelves. The raw, textured concrete on the walls is juxtaposed by a soft blue and white rug, a wooden Pierre Jeanneret desk, and sleek Donald Judd stools.

The wares within Saint Laurent Babylone are the most important part, of course. Curated by Saint Laurent’s creative director Anthony Vaccarello, the collection includes everything from photos by British artist Rose Finn-Kelcey to books published by Saint Laurent itself. Some tomes on offer are so rare that white gloves are required for handling.

The store also offers an enviable selection of records that are no longer being pressed. Highlights include Sade’s Promise, Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love, and the debut studio album of electronic band Kraftwerk.

Other notable items on the shelves include Leica cameras, chocolates made in collaboration with pastry chef François Daubinet, prints by Juergen Teller, and brass skull sculptures. You’ll also find an assortment of YSL merch, including pens, lighters, and cups.

To top it off, Saint Laurent Babylone will double as an event space, hosting live music sessions, DJ sets, book readings, and author signings over the coming months.

Saint Laurent’s latest endeavor isn’t exactly surprising. With Vaccarello at the helm, the Kering-owned fashion house has entered new cultural realms. Only last year, the label established a film production company and debuted its first movie at Cannes.

The space is fitted with a Pierre Jeanneret desk and Donald Judd stools.
SAINT LAURENT

Perhaps Saint Laurent film reels and movie posters will soon be available at Babylone, too.

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The Best Watches at the Grammys, From Maluma’s Jacob & Co. to Jon Batiste’s Vacheron Constantin

Music’s biggest names sported some outstanding watches on Sunday evening.

By Rachel Mccormack 08/02/2024

Weird yet wonderful watches punctuated this year’s Grammys.

The woman of the moment, Taylor Swift, who made history by winning Album of the Year for an unprecedented fourth time, wore an unconventional Lorraine Schwartz choker watch to the annual awards ceremony on Sunday night. That was just the tip of the horological iceberg, though.

Colombian singer-songwriter Maluma elevated a classic Dolce & Gabbana suit with a dazzling Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon and a pair of custom, diamond-encrusted Bose earbuds, while American musician Jon Batiste topped off a stylish Versace ensemble with a sleek Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon. Not to be outdone, rapper Busta Rhymes busted out a rare Audemars Piguet Royal Oak for the occasion.

There was more understated wrist candy on display, too, such as Jack Antonoff’s Cartier Tank LC and Noah Kahan’s Panerai Luminor Quaranta BiTempo.

For the rest of the best watches we saw on the Grammys 2024 red carpet, read on.

Maluma: Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon

Maluma busted out some truly spectacular bling for this year’s Grammys. The Colombian singer-songwriter paired a classic Dolce & Gabbana suit with a dazzling Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon and a pair of custom, diamond-encrusted Bose earbuds. The sculptural wrist candy sees a four-arm movement floating in front of a breathtaking dial adorned with no less than 257 rubies. For added pizzaz, the lugs of the 18-karat rose-gold case are invisibly set with 80 baguette-cut white diamonds. Limited to just nine examples, the rarity is priced at $1.5 million.

Asake: Hublot Big Bang Essential Grey

Nigerian singer-songwriter Asake may not have won the Grammy for Best African Music Performance for “Amapiano,” but did wear a winning Hublot Big Bang at Sunday’s proceedings. Released in 2023, the Essential Grey model is made purely of titanium for a sleek, uniform feel. The 42 mm timepiece was limited to just 100 pieces and cost $37,000 a pop.

John Legend: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding

Multihyphenate John Legend wore a legendary Audemars Piguet with silky Saint Laurent on Sunday evening. The self-winding Royal Oak in question features a 34 mm black ceramic case, a black grande tapisserie dial, and striking pink gold accents. The watchmaker’s signature is also displayed in gold under the sapphire crystal. The piece will set you back $81,000.

Jon Batiste: Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon

American musician Jon Batiste received four nominations but no wins at this year’s Grammys. The “Butterfly” singer can take solace in the fact that he looked ultra-sharp in Versace and Vacheron Constantin. A tribute to the spirit of travel, the Overseas Tourbillon features a 42.5 mm white-gold case, a bezel set with 60 baguette-cut diamonds, and a blue dial featuring a dazzling tourbillon cage inspired by the Maltese cross. Price upon request, naturally.

Fireboy DML: Cartier Santos

Fireboy DML’s outfit was straight fire on Sunday night. The Nigerian singer paired an MCM wool jacket with a Van Cleef & Arpels bracelet, several iced-out rings, and a sleek Cartier Santos. The timepiece features a steel case, a graduated blue dial with steel sword-shaped hands, and a seven-sided crown with synthetic faceted blue spinel.

Noah Kahan: Panerai Luminor Quaranta BiTempo

Best New Artist nominee Noah Kahan wore one of Panerai’s best new watches to Sunday’s festivities. The Luminor Quaranta BiTempo features a 40 mm polished steel case and a black dial with luminous numerals and hour markers, a date display at 3 o’clock, and a small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock. The timepiece can be yours for $14,000.

Busta Rhymes: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore

Legendary rapper Busta Rhymes busted out a chic Audemars Piguet for this year’s Grammys. The Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph in question is distinguished by a 42 mm rose-gold case and a matching pink méga tapisserie dial with an outer flange for the tachymeter scale. The face is fitted with three black subdials, large black numerals, and a black date display at 3 o’clock. You can expect to pay around $61,200 for the chronograph on the secondary market.

Jack Antonoff: Cartier Tank Louis Cartier

Producer of the year Jack Antonoff took to the red carpet with a stylish Cartier on his wrist. The Tank Louis Cartier in question appears to be a large 33.7 mm example that features an 18-carat rose-gold case, a silvered dial with black Roman numerals and blued steel hands, a beaded crown set with a sapphire cabochon, and a brown alligator strap. It’ll set you back $19,900.

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This 44-Foot Carbon-Fiber Speedboat Can Rocket to 177 KMPH

The new Mayla GT is available with a range of different powertrains, too.

By Rachel Cormack 03/02/2024

We knew the Mayla GT would be one of the most exciting boats at Boot Düsseldorf, but a deep dive into the specs shows it could be downright revolutionary.

The brainchild of German start-up Mayla, the 44-footer brings you the blistering performance of a speedboat and the luxe amenities of a motor yacht in one neat carbon-fiber package.

Inspired by the go-fast boats of the 1970s and ‘80s, the GT sports an angular, retro-futuristic body and the sleek lines of a rocket ship. Tipping the scales at just 4500 kilograms, the lightweight design features a deep-V hull with twin transversal steps and patented Petestep deflectors that help it slice through the waves with ease. In fact, Mayla says the deflectors decrease energy usage by up to 35 percent while ensuring a more efficient planing.

The range-topping GT can reach 185 kph. MAYLA

The GT is also capable of soaring at breakneck speeds, with the option of a gas, diesel, electric, or hybrid powertrain. The range-topping GTR-R model packs dual gas-powered engines that can churn out 3,100 hp for a top speed of more than 100 knots (185 kph). At the other, more sustainable end of the spectrum, the E-GT is fitted with an electric powertrain that can produce 2,200 horses for a max speed of 50 knots. The hybrid E-GTR pairs that same electric powertrain with a 294 kilowatt diesel engine for a top speed of 60 knots (111 km/h/69 mph). (The GT in the water at Boot sported two entry-level V8s good for 650 hp and a top speed of over 70 knots.)

The GT is suitable for more than just high-speed jaunts, of course. The multipurpose cockpit, which can accommodate up to eight passengers, features a sundeck with sliding loungers, a wet bar and BBQ, and a foldaway dining table for alfresco entertaining. Further toward the stern, a beach club sits atop a garage with an electric transom door.

The garage has an electric transom door. MAYLA

The GT is even fit for overnight stays. Below deck lies a cabin with a double bed, sofa, wardrobe, vanity, and en suite. You can also expect a high-tech entertainment system with TVs and premium audio.

As for price, the GT with the entry-level powertrain will cost between $2.7 million and $2.9, depending on the final configuration. (You can fine-tune the layout, hull color, and interiors, naturally.) Interested buyers can set up a sea trial with Mayla, with test-drives set to begin this spring in Europe.

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Red Centre

First Nations artist Shaun Daniel Allen joins forces with Chopard to create a timepiece inspired by the Australian landscape.

By Horacio Silva 29/01/2024

Shaun Daniel Allen does not look like your typical collaborator on a prestige watch. For one, Shal, as he prefers to be known (“There are many Shauns but only one Shal,” he explains), is more heavily tattooed than your average roadie. His youthful appearance, bad-boy ink and all, belies his 38 years and leads to a disconnect. 

He recounts being recognised on the street recently by a journalist, who, unable to remember his name, shouted out, “Chopard!” “I was with a friend,” Shal says, holding court in his apartment in Sydney’s inner city, “and he’s, like, ‘What the hell? Does that happen to you often?’”

Perhaps because of his body art, he reasons, “People don’t put me and Chopard together.” It’s not hard to understand the confusion, Shal adds; even he was taken aback when Chopard reached out to him about a potential collaboration a little more than a year ago. “When I first went in to see them, I was, like, I don’t know if I’m your guy. I’m not used to being in those rooms and having those conversations.”

He’ll have to adapt quickly to his new reality. Last month Chopard released Shal’s interpretation of the Swiss brand’s storied Alpine Eagle model, which in itself was a redo of the St. Moritz, the first watch creation by Karl-Friedrich Scheufele (now Co-President of Chopard) in the late 1970s. 

Previewed at Sydney’s About Time watch fair in September, to not insignificant interest, and officially known as the Alpine Eagle Sunburnt, the exclusive timepiece—issued in a limited edition of 20—arrives as a stainless steel 41 mm with a 60-hour power reserve and a burnt red dial that brings to mind the searing Outback sun. Its see-through caseback features one of Shal’s artworks painted on sapphire glass.

When the reputable Swiss luxury brand approached Shal, they already had the red dial—a nod to the rich ochre hues of the Australian soil at different times of the day and gradated so that the shades become darker around the edges—locked in as a lure for Australian customers.

Shal was charged with designing an artful caseback and collectible hand-painted sustainable wooden case. After presenting a handful of paintings, each with his signature abstract motifs that pertain to indigenous emblems, tattoos and music, both parties landed on a serpentine image that evoked the coursing of rivers. “I have been painting a lot of water in this last body of work and the image we chose refers to the rivers at home,” he says, alluding to formative years spent at his grandfather’s, just outside of Casino.

It says a lot about Chopard, Shal points out, that they wanted to donate to a charity of his choosing. “Like everything else on this project,” he explains, “they were open to listening and taking new ideas on board and it actually felt like a collaboration, like they weren’t steering me into any corner.”

In another nice touch, a portion of the proceeds from sales of the watch will go to funding programs of the Ngunya Jarjum Aboriginal Corporation—an organisation, established in 1995 by Bundjalung elders, whose work Shal saw firsthand after the 2022 eastern Australia flood disasters ravaged their area. “Seeing Ngunya Jarjum suffer from the floods,” he says, “and knowing how much they do for the community on Bundjalung Country was heartbreaking. I want to see Bundjalung families thriving and supported.”

So what’s it been like for this booster of Australian waterways to be swimming in the luxury end of the pool? “I’ve done a few things with brands,” he offers, referring to the Louis Vuitton project earlier this year at an art gallery in Brisbane, “but nothing on this scale. It’s definitely fancier than I’m used to but I’m not complaining.” Neither are watch aficionados.

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