Aboard the Preference 19 with owner Douglas Rastello
4 weeks ago
After a lifetime of competitive sailing, it is somewhat surprising that it was a motor yacht that attracted this owner to superyacht ownership. He says Sophie Wilson why 36 meters Preference 19 was the best impulse buy he ever made
“The whole experience was a great adventure, I had no intention of buying a boat,” says American Doug Rastello aboard the 36.4-meter Preference 19. A last-minute “fun” trip to the Yachting Festival in Cannes, after taking part in the Marathon du Médoc, led him to fall for the typically sleek yacht built by Tansu. “We were walking down the docks and seeing the same kind of style boat and there was Preference 19, which was totally different,” he recalls. “The interior was not heavy and sophisticated marble, it was a modern look with teak floors, teak ceilings, white walls and black doors. Exactly what we love. We were completely intrigued by it and somehow we ended up buying it.
The Rastellos were taken by Preference 19The sleek appearance and modern interior of
A highly competitive sailor who has competed in three America’s Cups and currently runs a successful J/70 program, Rastello is no stranger to boats. He previously owned a sailboat Moody54, on which he sailed in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, but Preference 19 was “quite a step forward”. Although the Covid-19 pandemic set in soon after the purchase was finalized, he wasted no time getting to know her. “It really didn’t slow us down,” he says. “The boat was locked up for a while, but as soon as she was released from the Covid prison, she went straight to Croatia, and we used her a lot. The hardest part was getting flights from the US, but if you took a plane it was fine.
Preference 19 is offered for rent with YPI
The other challenge Rastello faced after the purchase was changing Preference 19 from private use to a commercial vessel for charter. “We learned things about superyachts,” he says. “When I bought it, it was sold to us because ‘trading isn’t that bad, it’s not that hard’. Well, it’s so hard, and it’s a big deal To help with Preference 19of the transition to a charter yacht, Rastello assembled a new crew, led by Captain James Box, and made changes throughout. “We were starting from scratch,” Rastello explains. “It wasn’t that the quality of what the previous owner had was bad, it just wasn’t up to a proper charter business. We had to buy silverware, plates, linens, towels and uniforms plus new tenders and water toys Just all those things you take for granted we had to change.
With Preference 19 now equipped, the yacht’s “floating beach club” offer has been a resounding success with charter customers. The new challenge is to find the right balance between the use of the charter and the time spent on board. “We don’t expect to be cash flow positive, but we thought we needed a number of charters just to make it affordable enough,” Rastello says. “For us in July and August we won’t be using the boat, so it’s perfect for chartering. Where we come into conflict is the last two weeks of June and the first two weeks of September. This is where you have to maneuver.”
Along with getting to grips with being a superyacht owner, Rastello, who splits her time on land between properties in Lake Tahoe and Newport Beach, built her reputation in the J/70 World Championship. “We have a complete program, we have a boat in the United States and we have one in Europe,” he explains. “Two years ago I didn’t know what a J/70 looked like, but now I do. We have failed a lot but we have come a long way. It’s kind of exciting in a way, because we started low, and now we’re a top team. Rastello is now focused on the J/70 World Championships in Monaco in October, which if all goes as planned he intends to attend with Preference 19.
Preference 19 comes with a host of toys, including Seabobs and Waverunners
Rastello got into sailing as a kid in Long Beach, California when his father’s partner suggested it. “My father bought us a boat,” he says. “There were three brothers and a boat. I just liked sailing, so I hung on to that. From the age of 12, it was my sport and I have been practicing it ever since. This has notably been part of three America’s Cup teams – Eagle Challenge in Perth, Australia in 1987, Dennis Connor’s Stars & Stripes in 2002/3 in Auckland and BMW Oracle in 2006/7 in Spain.
Rastello was in his 50s when he last appeared in the Cup, and he has seen the sport evolve again since his last appearance. “I try not to see it from an old-school perspective, but it’s hard not to,” he says. “I was on boats, where we had 11 people and every maneuver was just a monumental struggle. It took years of training to be able to do the maneuver. The sails were huge and it was a contest physical. It’s just such a different game now. Although he only likes ‘parts’ of modern America’s Cup development, Rastello is delighted to see it return to Spanish waters in 2024.” I was in Spain last time and every day 800 spectator yachts came to the start line. For the match itself, there were probably 200,000 people in port. It was just amazing,” he recalls.
Preference 19 has three double cabins, two twin cabins and can comfortably accommodate 10 people
Away from his sailing exploits, Rastello focused on building his real estate business. “I’ve been in real estate for a long time,” he says. “I bought my first apartment complex in 1990. We really accelerated after the financial crisis in 2008 because it was a good time to buy. We have grown into a good-sized business. The business now includes a portfolio of apartment complexes across the American Southwest and Rastello handed over the reins to his children. “My son started working for me in 2013 and it was a natural transition during that time,” says Rastello’s son, James, is now in charge of running and growing the business, while his daughter Natalie oversees the West Division. squared and I’m proud of them because they’ve outdone themselves and they’re doing a great job,” he says. “I’m the beneficiary because I can do the J/70 program, hang out on the boat and answer phone calls when I need to, but I don’t have the burden of operations. ons daily.”
One of Rastello’s biggest surprises as a yacht owner was how much he and his wife enjoyed their time on the boat. “A few times now, we’ve been on the boat for a month, and I’ve been like, ‘This is going to be way too long for me’, but it wasn’t. It’s just fun to be on board, it’s a fun life. Part of Rastello’s enjoyment of being on board is staying active with numerous water sports and working out under the watchful eye of Grant, his deckhand and personal trainer. “Every other day we have a full fitness circuit,” he says. “One of the benefits of having a big backyard is that we can have workout stations and music. Everyone participates and it’s kind of fun.
This autumn, Preference 19 will be heading to the Caribbean for Rastello’s first winter season on board, and then their plans remain open. “I considered taking a big trip, leaving the Mediterranean and going to Asia. I would love to do something like that, but we’re not there yet. It takes a lot of planning,” he says “Right now, I have no plans but to enjoy the Caribbean. When it snows in Lake Tahoe, I can go warm up, which sounds pretty good to me.”
No matter where Preference 19 ends up sailing, Rastello does not regret his impulse purchase. “It was worth it,” he says. “I would say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I am totally happy.
Preference 19 is available for charter with Yachting Partners International from €105,000 per week.
First published in the September 2022 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine delivered straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue