#humansofyachting – Matt Ovenden

Matt Ovenden. Photo: Helen Cathcart

#humansofyachting – Matt Ovenden

Matt Ovenden. Photo: Helen Cathcart

#humansofyachting

#humansofyachting – Matt Ovenden

The founder of Borrow a Boat on opening up yachting to the masses and sailing with his wife and four children.

By Dominique Afacan | 17 May 2018

“I was lucky, I grew up with a great family boating lifestyle and I’ve got fantastic memories of that. Our Greek sailing holidays, in particular, felt like such big adventures; open-water island-hopping under the blazing sun, with frequent breaks for swimming and snorkeling. Now that I have four young kids of my own, I want a similar lifestyle for them. After exiting my last business in 2016, I looked at buying a boat but eventually decided to launch Borrow a Boat instead, to help open up boating to the masses.

There are two big myths around yachting – one; that it’s unaffordable and two; that you have to have some complicated set of qualifications in order to do it. All of our boats are available with skippers, and we offer great value. We have everything from canal boats and catamarans to superyachts and sailing yachts. Variety is key, so we’ve got 17,000 boats available across 60 countries. And they aren’t just in the obvious destinations; we’ve got boats in the fjords of Norway, we’ve got the Pacific islands and then places like Myanmar in Asia.

#humansofyachting – Matt Ovenden
#humansofyachting – Matt Ovenden

We see ourselves as the Airbnb of yachting ¬– we cater to a generation that don’t necessarily want to own things and who value flexibility. Our mobile app allows people to land in a destination and book a boat at short notice. There’s no need to commit to a seven-day trip, one or two day trips are perfectly possible; that’s a unique selling point for our customer base who are looking for experiential travel that suits their lifestyles. It could be a group of friends wanting to add a sailing element to a hotel holiday or a family looking for something a bit different.

There’s this idea that boating with a family must be really difficult but actually, it’s easy as you have everything you need on board. If you rent a villa, you have far more to think about; a hire car, car seats, packed lunches, it’s a mission to leave the house for a day out. On a boat, you’re very mobile without any of the hassle. You can cruise along the coast very easily and have a real adventure.

#humansofyachting – Matt Ovenden
#humansofyachting – Matt Ovenden

You’ve got to be vigilant, of course, and we have rules that the kids have to wear lifejackets and clip on at all times when on deck, but they find it fun, and particularly love making dens in the cabins and playing inside the boat. When we stop, they’re the first to want to jump in and swim or jump in the dinghy with me to come and explore some ‘secret beaches’ as we call them ­– because we often have them all to ourselves.

We are off to Greece as a family in a couple of weeks and then we are all going to Sicily later in the year, which we’re quite excited about. We had our honeymoon there and it’s our ten-year anniversary so we’re going to sail back to the Aeolian Islands, visiting the likes of Lipari and Vulcano. We love Italy. The Amalfi coast is next on the list, as we haven’t done that yet by boat.”