Sandra and Julian Chang are no strangers within the yachting circle. The Singapore Tatler Society Couple of the Year 2016 have been in the business for nearly two decades. As director and managing director of Raffles Yacht respectively, Sandra and Julian’s work revolves around selling, chartering and managing luxury yachts for leisure use within Asia, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. They also started building yachts independently in 2000.
Two out of three of their creations have won awards such as the Most Innovative Motor Yacht at the 2005 ShowBoats International Awards in Monaco and Best Motor Yacht over 75 metres at the Boat International Awards in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA.
In 2014, the couple acquired the Asian franchise of international yacht brokerage, Fraser Yachts, which now resides under parent company, Raffles Yacht. “Sandra and I have been around yachts most of our lives,” says Julian. The avid diver and fishing enthusiast later adds, “We started our own business in hope of using our experience and knowledge of yachts to help friends acquire boats that suit their needs and lifestyle.”
That same year, they participated in the Singapore Yacht Show (SYS) for the first time. The event is an impressive showcase of upmarket yachts, coupled with by-invite-only parties, and is “one of the three most important yachting events in the world,” says Sandra. “It contributes to the growth of the industry by gathering global industry players and potential clients in one location.”
The 2017 edition of the Show, which took place last week from April 6 to 9 at One15 Marina Club, Sentosa Cove, was the couple’s third time participating. Unlike previous years, where 35m-tall super yachts were showcased, this year was all about smaller luxury yachts.
“As China moves toward becoming the world’s top economic power, Asia, including Singapore, will benefit from its growth,” shares Julian. He also predicted that this will have a large impact on his industry and there will be a burgeoning interest in luxury yachts.
Besides being business owners, the couple are also involved in US-based non-profit organisation, The International SeaKeepers Society, founded in 1988 with the common belief that environmental protection is best done through marine conservation. “Our work with the society gives us the opportunity to meet like-minded groups of people,” enthuses Sandra.
So the big question is: So what should first-time buyers do? Here's some advice for from Julian: “Before you get your own yacht, charter one a few times to get to know your wants and needs before making any purchase. Spend time with friends who have yachts to understand the joys and pleasures of yachting, and see if this lifestyle is for you at all.”
True to his own words, the loving grandparents-of-one are never far from yachts, marinas or marine-related activities. In fact, the childhood sweethearts (they've been married for 39 years) practically live, work and play together. “Fortunately, we agree on most things,” shares Sandra. “More importantly, we have a deep love and great respect for each other.”