The History of Greece, the Yachting Capital of the World

Bill Lefakinis, a Greek-born and United States-bred businessman, had a vision in 1969. It has now become reality: Greece is the Yachting Capital of the World.

Bill left Greece when he was only 13 years old to find a better future and life for his family and himself. Bill was awarded full scholarships to attend the Hackley School, The University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business and serve in the US Army as well as the Greek Air Force. Bill returned to Greece, where he founded Valef Yachts, in 1969, after having traveled and worked extensively as the Chief Executive Officer at Filtrine International Co. Read more now on boat sales mallorca

There were only 30 yachts and 20 were private. Greece’s wealth was not recognized by the nation. The uniqueness of its history, culture, hospitality, and 4,000 islands, along with 13,000 miles of coastline (double that of the USA, where only 18% of the seashore is yacht-friendly, as opposed to Greece’s 99%), made it ideal for yacht chartering. Bill realized the enormous potential of Greek yachting and immediately began to apply his knowledge gained from his Greek business experience. Bill convinced four friends to let them charter their yachts. After almost forty years of constant marketing, public relation, and pressure on the Greek Governments, Bill’s commitment finally paid off. Greece now has more than 20,000 yachts available for charter or private use and 50 marinas. Valef Yachts has grown to be a trusted and successful company, with offices both in the US and Greece. Bill founded his company in 1969 and created, alone, a vision for the yachting industry in Greece. His motto was “Discover the Yachting World Of Greece.”

Bill, along with Panos Tsafos founded the Professional Yacht Owners Association. He also became the Secretary General of Hellenic Yacht Brokers Association & Consultants Association. The Association of Greek Yacht Crews was formed to coordinate efforts in improving yacht chartering throughout Greece. Bill also launched a magazine, “Sea and Yachting”, to educate Greeks on the beauty and potential of their islands and the importance of seawater sports. He wrote a series of caustic articles to the Greek government about their indifference to improving conditions and laws that govern professionally professional yachting. Bill became co-publisher of “Athens Mirror” in 1971. He also joined the Foreign Press Association and the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce.

Bill’s efforts to promote Greece abroad included bringing the Miss Universe Contest to Greece (it was the very first time that the contest had been held overseas), movies James Bond (1980 & 1983) and The Greek Tycoon, TV series The Love Boat (in 1980), Heart to Heart, The Life Styles of the Rich and Famous (with Robin Leach), The Evening Magazine, The Arthur Frommer show, Eyes on LA (which featured Greece throughout a whole week), The Arthur Frommer show, Eyes on LA (Cana Bill brought internationally renowned personalities to Greece to promote yachting. Bill brought in a number of international celebrities to Greece, including Hugh Hefner, Christina Onassis and Baron Hans Heinrich von Thyssen.

Claude Arpels – Van Cleef and Arpels Jewellers

Garavani Valentino is a fashion designer. Max Fisher, John Clinton, Ernest Gallo (Chairman, Dunhill and Rothman Group), Giovanni-Yanelli, Henry Ford II, Richard Fon Weizsacker (ex-German President), internationally acclaimed cellist Rostropovich and Bruce Springsteen are also on the list. He was a consultant to the Greek National Tourist Organization and the Greek Ministry of the Merchant Marine. He also served as a member of the Greek government’s Advisory Council for the Development of Greece.

Bill founded “PAKOE”, the Panhellenic Ecological Research Foundation, in 1978 with a group scientists and doctors. Bill was the Secretary General for the organization. He chartered helicopters and airplanes for University and Government scientists to collect hundreds of samples of air around the Acropolis in Athens. Reporters from abroad were also included. The Government’s scientific laboratories and independent centers confirmed all evidence. All media were informed of the high level of pollution through articles and photos. The Greek authorities, including the Prime Minister, President and all members in the Parliament, also received full reports. In fact, the topic of the election the following year was pollution. According to findings by the European Union, the Greek Seas now have the cleanest waters in Europe. Air pollution has also dropped significantly. The Parthenon was protected and a number of laws were passed to protect the environment.

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