Local tech executive Michael Saylor’s 154-foot luxury motor yacht is called USHER.

No, the name has nothing to do with the R&B singer — though the vessel’s Polynesian and Art Deco interior does give it flair.

For Glen Allen, who oversees Saylor’s boats — yes, he owns several — the story of USHER and the other megayachts at this year’s Miami Yacht Show is not another wealthy Miami-area resident with a large ship.

Rather, it’s the story of how these ships comprise an essential part of the Miami-area economy. And USHER, the largest locally owned boat in this year’s show, which opens Thursday, is a textbook example, he says.

USHER was commissioned in 2007 by Seattle-based Delta Marine — “one of the last quality American large yacht builders left in the U.S.,” Allen says. Its first owner, Jerry Herbst, had built up a series of gas stations and casinos under the Terrible Herbst brand, and decided to christen it “Mr. Terrible.”

Its eventual fate in Herbst’s hands was indeed unfortunate. Herbst was forced to sell the vessel in 2009 shortly after his company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as the global financial crisis hit. The ship went without a new owner until 2013, when Saylor purchased it after catching sight of it at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. The biggest reason for the purchase was also the simplest, Allen says: With just a 7 1/2-foot draft, it would fit in the dock behind Saylor’s Miami Beach residence on Indian Creek. The name USHER comes from the name of a software product sold by Saylor’s company, MicroStrategy.

The vessel’s cruisings over the years have taken it up to the Washington, D.C., area, where MicroStrategy is based, as well as to the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and New England. Saylor entertains corporate clients in addition to friends and family, Allen says. It also plays host to scientific research projects as part of the The International SeaKeepers Society.

Given the multi-hour effort it takes to get the boat out of Indian Creek and into open water, the yacht show will represent one of the rare occasions where a local can catch a glimpse of the vessel up close.

Allen says the boat should not just be viewed as a local attraction — its impact is much wider.

“We’re supporting the local economy through vendors that service the yacht,” he said. “It really is a commerce-producing platform for the local economy.”

These vessels also create or support jobs; in USHER’s case, 12 directly, Allen says. And when one considers how many boats like USHER are docked in the Miami area, Allen says, it becomes clear how these yachts perform a vital function in the local economy.

“I’ve heard people say, ‘Well, there’s that big rich guy with that big fancy yacht — why spend so much money on that?’ They don’t realize how much goes into that boat, and goes to support the local economy.”

According to Informa, the 32,000 visitors expected at the five-day yacht show will have a statewide economic impact of $486 million, including 3,576 jobs supported. In 2018, total estimated sales by Florida companies during the show reached $252.6 million; Miami-Dade companies contributed more than $64.9 million in estimated sales of marine products. In 2018, the total excise and sales taxes generated within Florida from the show came to an estimated $31.8 million.

The Miami Yacht Show is being held concurrently with the Miami International Boat Show, which features a wider variety of boat products geared toward more mainstream buyers. Together, the two shows will feature more than 2,000 boats on display, representing the largest marine showcase in the world.

Vessels featured at this year’s yacht show include:

  • The U.S. debut of SilverYachts’ 278-foot BOLD
  • The world debut of Hatteras Yacht’s GT65 (65 feet)
  • The world debut of Monte Carlo Yachts’ MCY 70 Skylounge (70 feet), the first model of the new MCY Collection

Azimut Yachts will also showcase 18 yachts, including three U.S. debuts: The Azimut 78 (78 feet), Azimut S8 (80 feet), and Azimut Grande 32 Metri (105 feet). The show will also serve as the world premier of the Azimut Verve 47 (47 feet).

Meanwhile, the boat show will feature:

  • The Scarab 285 ID from Benteau, billed as the largest recreation jet boat on the market, topping out at 54 miles-per-hour and zooming from 0 to 30 miles per hour in less than five seconds.
  • Lexus’ LY 650, a 65-foot yacht from the luxury carmaker.
  • The world debut of Nautitech’s 47 Power Cat catamaran, which reaches a top speed of 25 miles per hour thanks to two Volvo 300hp engines.