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MARKET UPDATE: FAR EASTERN RUSSIA Vladivostok is the capital of yachting in the far east of Russia. Photo: Seven Feet Yacht Club/Andrey Savin. Local government supports marina drive in Russia’s far east Several state-of-the-art marinas are planned along the far eastern coast of Russia in coming years as the local government is putting a lot of effort into promoting yachting tourism, writes Vladislav Vorotnykov Although Sochi is commonly believed to be the informal yachting capital of Russia, the Far East region actually has the highest number of yachts and small boats per capita in the country. For example, there are 38,000 yachts and small boats registered in Primorsky Krai alone, and the number of yachts arriving in the region from neighbouring China, Japan and South Korea has been constantly growing in past years. Given this upward trend, the lack of berths for yachts has become a big challenge. Alexander Kotenkov, president of the all-Russian Yachting Sport Federation, has stressed that in future a yachting cluster could be established in the Russian Far East. Kotenkov explained that although its remote location would mean operating in isolation from the rest of the country, this was not considered a problem because the ties with yachtsmen from Asia, specifically from China, Japan and South Korea, have been growing stronger in past years. The development of a cluster is expected to further aid momentum. Obstacles remain To date, according to estimates from the local analytical agency East Russia, there are insufficient marinas in the Russian Far East and the demand for berths exceeds supply. As a result, keeping a 40ft (12m) yacht in a marina in Vladivostok costs on average Rub35,000 to 40,000 (US0 to 0) per month. This cost is noticeably higher than in some neighbouring Asian countries and it prevents yachting from achieving mass popularity. The average wage in the Russian Far East is about Rub42,000 (US0) per month, so aside from the purchase cost itself, yacht ownership is affordable to less than 2% of local citizens. The development of the marina industry in Vladivostok is also hampered by the proximity of North Korea. Dmitry Nazarov, a local yachtsman and member of the Seven Feet Yacht Club, explained that it takes three days to travel from Vladivostok to Japan, and slightly more to South Korea, because sailors have to take circuitous routes in order not to come closer than 80 to 100 miles from the North Korean coast. Nazarov explained that he had personally had a negative experience when he and his friends were captured on their yacht by a North Korean patrol. No charges were made but they had to spend three days in custody before being released by Russian diplomats. “In spring 2016 we were coming back home from an international yachting competition in Pusan, South Korea,” Nazarov said. “North Korean customs officers basically don’t like yachtsmen and believe that apart from the official 12 miles of territorial waters they have at least an extra 50 miles. The North Korean customs services acted like pirates. According to the official explanation, they took us for a spy ship. This is an adventure I will remember for the rest of my life.” There are several other stories about yachts being captured by North Korean customs officers for no clear reason. This factor discourages yachtsmen from sailing in some parts of the region and it is especially important for those from Japan and South Korea as these countries have particularly strained relations with Kim Jong-un’s regime. Construction boom Despite some negative factors, the local government in Vladivostok - the capital of the Far East federal district - has recently adopted a comprehensive development programme for the city’s coastal territory. Under this programme the authorities plan to encourage investors to build various infrastructure, - January/February 2019 51

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