Skip to content

Billionaire Lifestyle: Champagne and Caviar With Your Yachting?

We’re occasionally happy to see sailing covered in the general media. We’re more often disappointed. Sailors everywhere know they are often perceived as rich yachtsmen suffering the billionaire lifestyle. The reality is far different. Knowing you sail and also knowing you are not a billionaire does nothing to the impression so often portrayed in the general media.

Billionaire yachting
The life “they” think we all enjoy. Is it even desired? Are sailors even jealous?
© 2024 Deposit Photos

We feel compelled to highlight moments when sailing is being misrepresented, such as the recent article in the Marin IJ about possible date night options, which included “Dining on a Yacht,” saying, “You might not be a billionaire, but you can treat your loved one to a billionaire’s lifestyle thanks to a private chef service aboard a yacht.”

The world has become wealthier and sailboats/yachts far more upscale and comfortable. But do most sailors even have any desire for the billionaire lifestyle? The style where you sit and write checks for everyone else to do the sailing for you? It’s always nice to have a good meal on a boat, but is that why we have sailboats? There are about 800 billionaires in the US (maybe a handful of them sail) and there are three million sailors. So why the misperception?

Billionaire Lifestyle
Midwinter billionaire-lifestyle sailing.
© 2024 Peter Lyons

Most sailors we know simply love the feel of their hand on the tiller or the wheel, the challenge of getting to a destination, being immersed in nature, the subtlety of trimming sails, and the camaraderie of the crew. Do people sail for champagne and caviar? We don’t begrudge anyone their success or their pleasures, but the pleasure of sailing for most has nothing to do with luxury. If you want luxury, why not go to a hotel?

Randall Reeves
Randall Reeves’ 40,000-mile “billionaire lifestyle” tour of the globe is the kind of sailing we admire.
© 2024 Randall Reeves

The stories that captivate us are those of Webb Chiles sailing around the world in a Moore 24, kids learning to sail in a community sailing program, sailing doublehanded to Hawaii, or piecing together the puzzle that is the Three Bridge Fiasco. Billionaire yachting? Yawn. Luxury yachting? Ho hum.

Billionaire yacht maintenance
Yacht maintenance is enjoyed by billionaires everywhere.
© 2024 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Stories like this do give us the opportunity to again point out you can become a sailor/yachtsman and go “yachting” every day for three months for $120 when you join the Cal Sailing Club in Berkeley. You can sail for free if you put your name on the Latitude 38 Crew List and find a crew to join or attend the a crew party at Berkeley Yacht Club. Of course, from there the sky is the limit. You could start an online bookstore and save up for 30 years and buy a $500 million 417-ft yacht like Jeff Bezos’ Koru. How many people consider that an interesting or desirable way to sail? Boring.

Youth Saililng
Future billionaires always start here. Do billionaires have any more fun than this?
© 2024 Joerg Bashir

The Marin IJ story did give a nice shout-out to other inexpensive sailing options by suggesting you jump aboard Bay Area charter boats like the Adventure Cat in San Francisco or the Freda B in Sausalito. They’re good, solid sailing experiences with wind in your face and spray in the air.

There are rich yachtsmen, but there are also rich baseball players and golfers. There are the elite in any activity, but the label sticks with “yachting.” Maybe it all started with the mustard commercial? The most common caption submission in our monthly caption contest is, “Please pass the Grey Poupon.”

Delta Ditch Run
The Delta Ditch Run adventures are the life and stories we enjoy.
© 2024 Lyn Hines

Dinner on a yacht may be a great date, though an even better date is a sunset sail with some beer and pretzels or wine and cheese, or an evening beer can race around the Bay.

Wylie Wabbit
Billionaires on the wire.
© 2024 Chris

The truth is you can do a lot of “yachting” for less than the price of a couple of Taylor Swift concert tickets, treating your family to a couple of baseball games, or taking your family skiing, where the cost of an all-day private lesson is as high as $1400!

Our yachting life. Do you have FOMO?
© 2024 Deposit Photos

People say, “Perception is reality,” and the perception of elite yachting is often what keeps people away from sailing, or prevents funding for public-access docks and launch facilities for youth sailing. People can spend a lot of money on just about anything, but it’s a choice, not a requirement. In our Good Jibes podcast we ask many of our guests what their “dream boat” would be. No one has ever answered megayacht. Often the answer is a small, easy-to-sail cruiser or racer.

What most likely prevents people from being able to sail is spending money foolishly trying to mimic the billionaire lifestyle. It would be much cheaper and more fun to just go sailing.

You can sell your boat by listing it in our Classy Classifieds here


  1. Bill Crowley 2 months ago

    To me, sailing is (mostly) relaxing time spent with family and friends. It doesn’t matter where (or how far) we go – it’s simply time on the water, away from the traffic tension we get on our roadways.

  2. Joshua Wheeler 2 months ago

    Nice John. The Resourceful Sailor is picking up what your laying down. Having the smallest boat in EVERY anchorage isn’t because it’s comfortable and high style. Here in Mexico, the pangas are bigger than a Flicka 20. I can only laugh at people’s misconception, invite them to try it, and takes bets on how quickly they want off.

  3. Tim Collins 2 months ago

    All are welcome to come rub elbows with the elites at the BYC crew party March 8th!

Leave a Comment

Sponsored Post
We're seeking a Parts Administrator for our Richmond location.