Mike Simpson’s business is the ocean – he founded Simpson Marine, one of Asia’s premier yacht distributorships, home of brands as famous as Sanlorenzo, Bluegame, Lagoon, Aquila and Fairline Yachts – but his passion may also be found in the air. Simpson is an avid pilot and collector of vintage aircraft with an enviable collection of still-airworthy Spitfire fighter planes from the World War II era, in frequent demand at air shows and film and television studios. Here, we find out what keeps him afloat and aloft.
My big satisfaction comes from the fact that we do have an international reputation for being a serious, professional business in the yachting industry in Asia. We have helped thousands of people enjoy yachting, bringing many people to sailing and boating in general and being involved in opening up new markets. We first started back in 1984, when it was all very much in its infancy out here.
A recent memorable experience of sailing in Asia is my first sail with my new yacht, an Oceanis 46.1 from Beneteau, in beautiful weather and a strong northeast monsoon, with a bunch of good friends on board. It was an exhilarating experience and reminded me how much I have always enjoyed the sea and yachting. Back in the mid-1990s, I took up flying, which side-lined my sailing activities. But because of the COVID-19 lockdown, I have been unable to go back to Europe and go flying, so I eventually decided to buy my own yacht. That was definitely a good decision, one that I enjoy every weekend!
I must admit that I would be very glad to be able to attend a proper international boat show in 2021, finally, and I’m sure that with international travel resuming, that would be something that would excite the whole industry. Aside from that, in Hong Kong we will be organising our own Beneteau Cup in May, the first of its kind and scale, and I will be happy to enrol my own yacht into the regatta and enjoy all the fun and community of other Beneteau owners.
To me, the attraction of both sailing and flying has always been the adventure – cruising to foreign destinations on a boat and flying on rented aeroplanes to explore different locations. I have explored almost every airfield in the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand, a little bit in Thailand and many in Europe. My main passion is older vintage aircraft, and this is what keeps drawing me back to England every summer – until last year, at least.
Both sailing and flying lifestyles provide escape from routine, and the need for discipline and careful planning are common to both. Yachts are more relaxed because things tend to happen slower at sea, but while flying, preparation and concentration are particularly important as things happen quickly in the air.
I’m also very much enjoying sharing my passions with others. My passion for sailing led me to set up Simpson Marine and that has always been my main leitmotif in the development of the company. The same happens with flying, and it is very satisfying to take other people out and share my enjoyment of aviation and the thrill of being aloft in an aeroplane.
I do not have any particular sailing habits but, but a weather check is fundamental before out so I tend to spend considerable amounts of time on various weather apps, trying to determine what the weather might be like. Fortunately, during the whole of winter we had spectacular weather here in Hong Kong.
I’m in a process of acquiring another vintage aircraft from a museum in Europe that I visited some 10, 15 years ago. I was trying very hard to acquire a couple of aircraft at that time, and failed. Now the opportunity has risen again, so it has reignited my excitement of the quest for aircraft! I have previously also acquired planes in Russia, the Kuril Islands, and Burma, to name a few.