Meet The Team – James McNeil


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.

In this instalment, we talk to Grabau International UK’s – James McNeil.

1.) What is your position within the business?

As a member of the brokerage and new yacht sales team, I specialise in the listing and sale of sailing and motor yachts in the UK and also internationally. I am based in Grabau International’s HQ town of Lymington and cover a variety of listings in the immediate area. You can also often find me at European and United States boat shows assisting our friends at Hylas Yachts and Rizzardi Yachts.

2.) When did you first get into boating?

I am told that my first sail took place near to Lymington, at the age of 3 months aboard a 15’ Albacore dinghy. When I was old enough, I progressed to membership of the Salterns Sailing Club which has produced more than its fair share of Olympic gold medalists, world champions and America’s Cup sailors, myself sadly not included! Throughout my childhood, I was also lucky to enjoy extensive family cruising aboard various family-owned yachts, mainly in and around the central South Coast of the UK and across to France and the Channel Islands.

3.) Your favourite yachting moment?

That’s a difficult one as there are so many. I have enjoyed the last few seasons of competitive Solent club racing aboard the Grabau International team boat where I am usually in control of anything involving a winch handle! Attending various boat shows in Europe and the United States has also brought many fantastic opportunities to try out some pretty awesome new sailing yachts and powerboats. Navigating the fantastic Hylas M44 Euro from Chichester to Central London, beneath Tower Bridge must surely rank as one the best!

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

Having enjoyed a successful 20yr career in high-end real estate in and around the New Forest, I wanted to combine my love of face-to-face sales & marketing with my lifelong passion for yachting. Having known Grabau International MD Alex Grabau for many years (I sold his first property for him and advised on other subsequent ones!), when the opportunity presented itself to join the rapidly growing brokerage team, it was an easy decision to make. Having attended the world-renowned Association of Brokers & Yacht Agents (ABYA) Broker’s Course, I was able to settle into my new role very quickly and, enjoying a number of notable sales shortly afterwards.

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

Having already spent so many years in the residential property sales market this is, of course, the obvious choice, but when recently bumping into an old family friend, I was reminded that when as a young child I would spend many hours drawing in great detail the particularly special boats I would see on The Solent, so I wonder whether a career in Naval Architecture may have been an alternative calling? I shall have to dig out my wax crayons and have a go!

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

Aside from enjoying the club racing in the Solent, I am also lucky enough to spend some quality time sailing with my father aboard the family C-Yacht 11.00 berthed here in Lymington.

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

In addition to loving boats, I am a lifelong car enthusiast, particularly classic, vintage and modern classic cars. I am a regular visitor to the Le Mans 24 race as well as at Goodwood where I can usually be found attending the early season Member’s Meeting as well as the Goodwood Revival (when it doesn’t clash with the Autumn boat shows). Living in the heart of the New Forest, I am also blessed with some of the best walking in the South of the UK. On the subject of walking, I have also been known to complete the occasional round of golf although my handicap is nothing to write home about!

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

Having spent so much time with the beautifully-crafted Hylas range of yachts, I am a big fan of their new Dixon-designed H57 which I think would make for the most wonderful world-cruising boat. Having said that, I am a total sucker for beautiful timeless designs, so the Spirit Yachts 60DH ‘SPIRIT OF RANI’ would sit very high on the list. Otherwise, for something a bit more manageable, I think for a genuinely very comfortable and well-designed liveaboard, a Fantasi 44 such as ‘ROSE SALTER’ would fit the bill extremely well indeed.

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

With so many fantastic boats now listed by Grabau International these days, that is actually quite difficult…..what a lovely problem to have!  As I have already said, loving the classic style, the Spirit 60 DH ‘SPIRIT OF RANI’ is not surprisingly on my short-list, she is just beautiful from stem to stern.  I think with the undoubted growing importance of the multihull sector to the boat market, I would have to also add the beautiful OQS-built Ocean Explorer 60 catamaran ‘CYGNUS CYGNUS’ along with the very highly engineered Truetlein Young 65’ Custom catamaran ‘EOS’, which looks to be a pretty fabulous boat for the aficionado wanting a fast one-off but comfortable cruising catamaran.  For those wanting some proper offshore speed, but in a manageable and affordable package, the Class 40 ‘MUEYU’ represents fantastic value in the current market.  Last but certainly not least, the Baltic Yachts 65 Custom ‘CASTIGO’ does look to be very special indeed but I would definitely have to remember to raise her telescopic keel before coming into Lymington!

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

With Covid-19 shaping the current global environment, I think it is vitally important that we all follow our respective Government guidelines to help safeguard as many lives as possible. Until then, the unrelenting flow of enquiries from both buyers remains encouraging and a reminder to all that there will be an end to this current situation. I for one am looking forward to getting back out on the water and enjoying the freedom of the seas.

If you would like to discuss your yacht sale or purchase plans, in the UK or internationally, James would be delighted to hear from you. He can be contacted at or tel +44(0)7979 907210.



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