Meet The Team – Alex Grabau


Over the coming days and weeks, we thought it would be nice to introduce ourselves in a little more detail. The Grabau International team is a close-knit group with many decades of experience between us. We all have an interesting story to tell about how we got here and what we get up to away from the office, so we have put 10 questions to each of the team.

We start with Grabau International founder and Managing Director – Alex Grabau.

1.) What is your position within the business?

I am the founder and managing director of Grabau International. Like the rest of my team, I also look after brokerage of both sailing and motor yachts with a focus towards international sales. I am based at our Lymington headquarters, but can often be found at various boat shows around the world checking out all that is new and innovative in the industry. As a long-standing member of the ABYA (Association of Brokers & Yachts Agents) committee, I also have a keen interest in promoting professional standards within the industry and supporting those who are coming into this ‘hard to crack’ business.

2.) When did you first get into boating?

Like many, I started in sailing dinghies. I was blessed to have a ‘Swallows & Amazons’ upbringing in the and around the UK’s Norfolk Broads and took ownership of my first boat at the tender age of 8. I later progressed towards yachts, often spending summers sailing on the Southern Baltic with family.

3.) Your favourite yachting moment?

Can I pick two? The first was sailing into Warnemünde in the former East Germany just a few short months after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was quite a surreal experience as the town was started to adjust to its new-found freedoms. The second was taking part in the World Cruising Club’s 2010 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) aboard the former Global Challenge 72 ‘BIG SPIRIT’. It was true ‘busman’s holiday’ and a great experience from start to finish.

4.) How did you get into the yacht brokerage industry?

Having fallen completely in love with the world of boating, after leaving school, I went on to study Naval Architecture and then Marine Management in Southampton. To help fund my university studies, I worked part-time for a large UK-based brokerage house in their brokerage and new yachts departments. Combining the two, my final year degree study was researching the psychology of why people buy yachts. Following graduation, I went on to spend an enjoyable 15yrs building upon my brokerage education with one of Europe’s largest independent brokerage houses before founding Grabau International in 2015. The rest, as they say, is history.

5.) What would you do if you weren’t a yacht broker?

A really tough question as I can’t imagine doing anything else. My original plan was to become a naval architect. I’m not sure that my lack of grasp of calculating the righting moment of a semi-submerged submarine in saltwater would place me in good stead. Fortunately, we have our fair share of qualified naval architects within the Grabau International community so submariners are likely to be safe for the time being.

6.) What sailing/boating are you doing at the moment?

With the arrival of my son a few years ago, my much-loved Simon Rogers designed Whitbread 27 (water-ballasted flying machine) made way for a Beneteau First 38s5. I grew up lusting after this generation of boats from Beneteau’s heyday as they are beautifully built and feature glorious Philippe Starck interiors. I have slowly updated and optimised her for competitive club racing. As an active member of the Lymington Town Sailing Club, I enjoy taking part in both summer and autumn racing series and have been very proud to provide support as a sponsor to the LTSC’s autumn Solent Circuit and also supporting their excellent youth sailing initiatives with the recent purchase of a fleet of Laser Pico dinghies.

7.) What do you get up to away from the office?

Yacht Brokerage is a 7 days a week business, but when I do manage to get away from the office and the water, I enjoy cycling, trail walking, and travelling. My wife is originally from Madeira, so we also split our time between Lymington and the island which has become the perfect place to unwind with good food, friends, family and stunning scenery. A self-confessed car nut, I have recently fallen into classic Italian car ownership, which will most likely bankrupt me, so while the airline industry begins to implode, I am planning an ‘essential business’ road trip to visit our Florence office in the near future!

8.) If you were to ‘sell up and sail away’, what boat would you choose?

An almost impossible question as different boats would suit different situations. My dream has always been to buy an old Sparkman & Stephens Swan 55 Yawl and head off across the Atlantic. If I could find a press gang a few extra crew, the Swan 65 Ketch ‘FORCE 9’ would be hard to ignore. My wife would probably prefer the space of a catamaran, so I guess there needs to be a discussion somewhere along the line! Perhaps the Ocean Explorer 60 from OQS would be the ideal solution!

9.) Pick five of your favourite current GI listings and tell us why?

All of our 200+ brokerage listings are my favourites! If I was forced to pick five, I guess I would pick the Hylas 66 ‘KEEP KOOL’ on account that she was custom and hand-built regardless of cost by the master craftsman at Hylas incorporating the best possible engineering and design practices available. Next, I would pick the Spirit 60 DH ‘SPIRIT OF RANI’ as she is quite simply stunning from every angle and has been beautifully maintained by her obsessive owner. Next, no shortlist is complete without the radical Marc Lombard designed Black Pepper Code 2 ‘ARARA’ which following a recent refit has become one of the fastest and most exhilarating ways to cross oceans in comfort and still prove super-competitive on the racecourse. On the subject of the racecourse, there can only be one ‘SUPERNIKKA’; the 2015-launched Vismara V62 RC Mills which has won the Maxi Worlds no less than four times in just five seasons or racing including the most recent 2019 regatta. Lastly, and switching across the motor yachts, I am totally besotted by the Egemar Liberty 48 Offshore ‘ADA’. If I could have her sitting alongside ‘SPIRIT OF RANI’, I would be a very happy man.

10.) What is your plan for the rest of 2020.

To stay safe, respect and support the government’s efforts to tackle the COVID-19 crisis and to keep listing and selling boats!

If you would like to discuss your 2020 and beyond yachting plans, Alex would be delighted to hear from you. He can be contacted at or tel +44(0)1590 673715.

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