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When September rolls around on the Med, boating enthusiasts eagerly plot a course for the Riviera to get a glimpse of the latest nautical toys on exhibit at the industry’s leading trade shows. But in the wake of the financial crisis, yacht builders and aspiring buyers have had to navigate some rough seas.

Bankers’ bonuses are under attack and the fortunes of property tycoons and Russian entrepreneurs, whose appetite for luxury yachts sustained growth in the past decade, have taken a dive. Particularly stung were companies in continental Europe,…

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