Garth has been actively involved in the global yachting industry for over 34 years and has an intimate knowledge of: Yacht Design, Yacht Building, Yacht Brokerage, Yacht Chartering, Yacht Management/Asset Management, Yacht Syndication/Fractional Ownership and Currency Hedge Investments.
During the years 1989 – 2005 Garth Carstens amassed a fleet of 76 yachts (present day Net Asset Value USD85million) that operated in the Caribbean offering investors a hedge against economic and political uncertainty and specifically a hedge against the volatile South African Rand. The fleet was owned and managed under a fractional ownership model with investors purchasing a share in each vessel. At the age of 21 Carstens syndicated his first yacht, a 46’ Lavranos designed mono-hull built from steel and moored next to a yacht named “Lilly Rose”, a round-bilged beauty purchased by the infamous South African police captain turned bank robber, Andre Stander, who, eventually made his way to the United States of America where he was gunned down in Ft. Lauderdale, a part of the world where Carstens has spent much time and what many describe as, “the yachting capital of the world”. The yachting journey had begun, and it was and, still is, very colorful! Colorful indeed, as Carstens had secured a buyer for the famous M/Y Nabila, http://www.bbc.com/news/business-40180931 but even though his clients offer was higher than what the boat eventually sold for, the offer was overlooked. Lesson learnt!
During the year 1984, shortly after leaving school and after his stint at compulsory military training, Carstens formed Marine Syndicate Management Systems (MASMAS) and threw his efforts into growing his business firstly, by bringing aboard several partners, followed by an aggressive sales campaign that added boats to an existing fleet in the Caribbean. Because of a nasty divorce, MASMAS was liquidated (with Carstens being the only creditor) and the following day, Alpha Abacus Maritime was born. Carstens, an entrepreneur and pioneer by nature was the first person to introduce black equity participation in the South African yachting industry post-apartheid.
Originally as an investor in a yacht, Workers Investment Company (the Union investment arm of Unilever South Africa) were so impressed by their investment returns that they bought equity in Alpha Abacus Maritime. The company made two acquisitions by purchasing an established charter brokerage and a clearing house thereby adding a further 66 boats to the fleet and boasting 142 yachts in total. A real challenge facing South African investors was, and still is, the volatility of the South African Rand. Protecting one’s wealth against the ravages of inflation, political and economic uncertainty and the currency challenge, created an opportunity in the form of selling stainless steel tank containers to resident investors who paid for the asset using soft currency Rands and the asset was deployed into lease agreements around the world, earning hard currency returns. Carstens was instrumental in growing this industry within South Africa and then as far North as Egypt. The success of the investment prompted Carstens to sell yachts as a currency hedge investment and this bespoke product has resulted in many smiling faces who have benefitted from the investment program.
During the years 2005/2006 Carstens withdrew his interest in the yachting industry to return to South Africa with the intention to bring about positive and meaningful change specifically in the areas of poverty eradication, skills development and job creation. His philanthropic initiatives and conviction remain the cornerstone of the company’s culture and forms part of Cape Cairo Alliance’s “Corporate Social Investment” commitment.
From 2010 – 2014 Carstens accepted the position of Acting Chief Executive Officer for Dean Catamarans, the oldest multi-hull manufacturing company in the world with an impressive 33-year track record. Amongst many achievements, Dean Catamarans manufactured over 350 high end custom yachts sold to a global client base. During the year 2015, the Dean 500 (under new ownership) received top accolades at the Annapolis Boat Show, being voted boat of the year.
It was during this tenor that Carstens decided that the opportunity existed to take his decades of yachting industry experience and formed CCA to capitalize on the opportunities the market currently has to offer.