Vrit Yongsakul On His Seaborne Pride
It all started with the one person who would have a profound influence on the path Vrit Yongsakul would take in life. “My father has always been mad about sailing. It is his passion and ever since I can remember I would go out with him on boats and jet skis,” he recalls. At the age of eight, Vrit was sent to study in England. As a university student, he earned a master’s degree in civil engineering at Imperial College London before returning to Thailand in 2004. He immediately joined the family business, taking on a variety of roles within the company to learn as much as he could.
Today, Vrit serves as the managing director of Boat Lagoon Yachting, a family business based in Phuket that he has helped to become one of Southeast Asia’s most successful yacht importation and distribution companies. Representing world-class brands such as Princess, Jeanneau and Prestige, the business operates in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Maldives and boasts premium yacht sales and top-notch after-sales services to aspiring leisure craft owners. “Some of our clients have bought 15 boats from us within the last 10 years,” he says with pride. “I believe that’s testament to the quality of our services.”
But how did it all get going? “In 1993 my father went to the UK for a boat show and instantly fell in love with the Princess 66, a 68-foot yacht. So much so that he partnered up with the boat builder to become its first distributor in Southeast Asia. Despite Thailand lacking a market for such a business he persevered through sheer enthusiasm and perhaps singlehandedly made yachting a recognised leisure activity here. I’m always amazed by what he accomplished and the challenge for me is to build on the platform he created and grow the business in what has become a fully fledged local industry,” the executive says.
To emphasise the point Vrit adds that originally 90 per cent of Boat Lagoon’s clientele were European, whereas today Thais constitute 30 per cent of its customers. “It is important for us to understand their needs and the needs of the industry. We must ensure our capabilities match the standards and quality of the products we represent.”
That he is enamoured of his job is obvious when he is asked what his favourite aspects of the business are. “I love being on boats! Especially cruising the waters around the islands between Phuket and Krabi. The company has always been a family affair. I have a wife and three children [two daughters and a son all under eight years of age] and on a personal level it is a joy to share what I do with them in the same way my father involved me,” he smiles. “I’m lucky that they have a great understanding of what I do for a living and, like me, they love being out on the water.”
Would he like his children to follow in his footsteps? “For sure,” he laughs. “I don’t think it will be a hard choice for them—they enjoy boating with family and friends. I’m happy because sailing and being by the sea are very beneficial. It keeps older generations fit and active, it teaches youngsters practical skills and confidence and in general it promotes a healthy state of mind. That said, whether the kids do get on board or not will be up to them. They’re all quite young and there’s plenty of time yet.”