Hugo Verlinden's journey into the superyachting world

Hugo Verlinden

Hugo Verlinden's journey into the superyachting world

Hugo Verlinden

Kinship

Hugo Verlinden's journey into the superyachting world

Hugo Verlinden, the owner of Seven Sins, looks back on his journey into the yachting world and talks about the destinations that are still on his bucket list.

By Gemma Fottles | 9 April 2019

Hugo Verlinden has enjoyed a lifelong love affair with the water. “I’ve been yachting since 1977,” says the founder and former-CEO of one of Belgium’s biggest insurance brokerage companies. “My passion led me here ­– I’ve always loved being in the water.”

Owner of the superyacht Seven Sins, Verlinden’s journey through the world of yachting has been a traditional one, slowly climbing the size classes as his success – and family – grew. One of Verlinden’s trademarks is his generosity with his boats, inviting friends, family and business associates on board at every opportunity. For Verlinden, yacht ownership is not about getting out on the water once a year, it’s about really spending time on board.

Hugo Verlinden's journey into the superyachting world

Seven Sins in the Caribbean

Hugo Verlinden's journey into the superyachting world

Seven Sins in the Caribbean

But it didn’t start with superyachts. It all began with swimming pools. While growing an insurance empire in Antwerp, Verlinden says his need to be near water was overwhelming. “I didn’t even really know that yachting existed at that time. The first thing I built in our houses were the swimming pools. It’s not necessarily the sea, but being in the water has always been my joy.”

“In 1974 I visited the south of France and realised what you could do with yachts,” he says. As business boomed, the Verlindens were able to take the first step on the ladder of yacht ownership. “In 1977 I had the opportunity to buy, so I bought a second-hand, 16.5-metre boat together with a friend. That’s how it started ­– all on the beautiful Côte d’Azur.”

Hugo Verlinden's journey into the superyachting world

Hugo with a crew member on the tender

Hugo Verlinden's journey into the superyachting world

Hugo with a crew member on the tender

Verlinden and his family wasted no time in taking advantage of their new toy, going on to build another boat in Italy, which they owned for ten years as their young family grew up. “Our children loved being in the water, water skiing and swimming in Corsica and Sardinia every summer. It was great. And I must say that for business, the yachts have been very successful. It’s a fantastic tool for building relationships.”

The 1990s saw Verlinden step into the superyacht market with the purchase of a Dutch-built boat, but it was in the early 2000s that he jumped in feet first, purchasing a 41-metre superyacht in 2005 before going on to build the 52-metre Seven Sins in 2017. “It’s a different life with this sort of yacht,” says Verlinden. “You cannot compare the yachting we did when we were younger and the yachting we do now. It’s another world.”

Hugo Verlinden's journey into the superyachting world

On board Seven Sins

Hugo Verlinden's journey into the superyachting world

On board Seven Sins

With substantially more space, a treasure-trove of water toys and an environment at the very top tier of luxury living, Seven Sins certainly is a different world. A dedicated foodie, Verlinden places much importance on his onboard chef, and life on board centres around an intricate menu of daily delights. “Our chef is fantastic, and the food is just top quality on Seven Sins. I always put on 2kg after I spend time on the boat!”

Speaking of his frequent use of the yacht, he says, “I’ve never been closed about the boat. Everybody is welcome. Business or pleasure, friends and family. For all of our grandchildren though, the boat is too small – we need a 30-metre tender to fit everyone on!”

“Over the years I have often seen people we have invited on board who didn’t know each other still in touch years later,” he continues. “The boat brings people together. You can’t get the same result after any other kind of trip. You are so close on a yacht holiday. After a couple of days, it’s not the same relationship anymore.”

Hugo Verlinden's journey into the superyachting world

Seafood BBQ lunch in the Caribbean

Hugo Verlinden's journey into the superyachting world

Seafood BBQ lunch in the Caribbean

Now retired with his son taking over the helm of the family business, Verlinden is on board more than ever. Looking back on memorable moments while cruising in the Caribbean, Verlinden pinpoints a birthday celebration in the Dominican Republic. “When I turned 65, we went to Casa de Campo,” he remembers. “The yacht was in the marina, and we rented a beautiful villa. There were 24 of us with the children and grandchildren – a big bunch of Belgians! We spent a lot of time on the water as a family, visiting the islands together. We still speak about that holiday, it was fantastic. Yachting holidays are always more memorable because it’s less about the individual and more together as a group. You’re not just doing your own thing.”

After 40 years of bringing people together and making lasting memories with family, what’s next for Verlinden and his yachting journey? Ever the curious yachtsman, Verlinden has no plans of slowing down and is dreaming of venturing off-the-beaten-track. “We went to Tahiti in 2016. It’s kind of a lost place in the world, but it’s so beautiful. And underwater? You don’t believe your eyes. I know every rock in the Caribbean – I want to do more on that side of the world: Thailand, the Chinese Sea, Australia, New Zealand. Maybe we will do it when I hit my 80s.”

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