Specifically yacht managers need to undertake due diligence when assessing the suitability of a shipyard for refits and surveys
Daniel Küpfer at Ocean Management tells us, “We evaluate shipyards on the basis of the quality and motivation of their workforce, track record, financial stability, commitment towards the client, social responsibility and environmental awareness.”
Y.CO undertakes includes extensive research on everything from the shipyard ownership structure and financial stability, its experience and track record – including reference checks from previous refit projects of a similar size and scope of work; and of course, its resources – the skill set on offer, its availability, capacity, and suitability for the project. The company’s Director of Yacht Management says, “We also look at the type of contract that is proposed (with the standard ICOMIA template favoured), their liability insurance policy, third-party contractor policy and commercial terms and their warranty and aftersales support. We also carry out a full on-site assessment of their facilities: ensuring the yard is secure, the machinery is well-maintained, there is adequate storage and parking and of course that the crew facilities, the canteen, and recreational areas, are up to standard.”
Damian Martin says, “We rely on the experience within the Edmiston Management Team, which has over 200 years of combined experience in yachting. If one of our Technical Managers has a good reason for going to a particular yard, or otherwise, we listen, absorb, and analyse and then make our recommendations.”
Captains Little Helper
With Captains constantly citing the shortage of time as being the criteria that defines their job and sets it aside from others who sail as crew in superyachts the question is how does a yacht manager help the Captain do his job better?
Daniel Küpfer at Ocean Management tells us We believe that yacht Captains and yacht managers have a different role in the client relationship. The yacht manager should support the Captain in his role onboard, so that the Captain can focus on creating the ultimate yachting experience of the owner and the guests onboard.
At Edmiston, Damian Martin believes, “The Captain has more access to the Owner, the manager more access to the Captain and the broker more access to the manager, so it should be a symbiotic relationship. The Captain is the one ‘on the front line’, while us managers are working behind the scenes and therefore can be best placed to assist. Captains and managers should work together to achieve the same aim – to provide the best possible experience for the Owner.”
It is not the yacht managers job to hire crew or choose crew uniforms. Most crew believe those decisions should that be left to the Captain but Damian Martin believes, “This depends on the yacht, its schedule and size. An inexperienced Captain might rely more on the manager for help and support, even if it’s as simple as being directed to the right place. The Captain needs to build a team and will therefore play a key role in the hiring process, but managers might know the candidates and be able to offer guidance.”
Daniel Küpfer at Ocean Management suggests, “I wouldn’t consider myself sufficiently competent as far as the selection of crew uniforms is concerned. In regard to the recruitment of the staff onboard, it is always the Captain who is held responsible by the owner for the performance of the team onboard. It wouldn’t be fair to expect the Captain to fulfil this role successfully, if he would not have the final say when it comes to the selection of his crew.”
Mark Patterson at Y.CO agrees saying, “It is the Manager and Captain’s responsibility to ensure the yacht and crew are safe and able to consistently provide the owner with an outstanding and memorable experience every time he/ she steps on board. All other sub-tasks of this main objective, including crew recruitment and uniform selection, must be completed as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible, so can be left to the onboard team, with guidance from the management company if required.”
Crew placement is about truly understanding every aspect of the vacant position so we can find you specific individuals with the right set of qualifications, personality, and experience.
Maxime Bregeon, Safety and Crew Manager, says “The professional team of recruitment consultants at our sister company, The Crew Network, is well versed in finding skilled crew to operate any yacht to the highest standards. Our Crew Department work closely with a Captain or Owners Team if they put forward CVs or candidates directly for interviews and vetting. Depending on the setup required by the Owner, we usually think it is beneficial that Fraser, the Captain and Owner work together in order to find qualified and harmonious team.
The key to a successful yacht operation from a manager’s perspective has to be keeping the owner happy. It must rely on trust, expertise and transparent communication between the owner, Captain and manager. The Captain and manager have to happily work hand in hand to satisfy the owner’s requirements and maintain a safe and efficient onboard operation.
Owning and managing a luxury yacht is an increasingly elaborate business. The role of a yacht managers is to offer support and advice to yacht owners and their captains to ensure that the yacht is being maintained, crewed, administered, and operated to the highest standards, and is compliant with flag and class requirements. Frasers work with the Captain and the owners team to make sure that the yacht is operated safely and efficiently, giving the owner the opportunity to enjoy the yacht. Maxime Bregeon, the company’s Safety and Crew Manager says, “The complexity and the size of today’s yachts require daily support from an onshore management team. This is proven especially in case of emergency where our team can mobilise a tug, medical support, or anything else around the clock and coordinate all parties such as insurances, Coast Guard, next of kin, etc in order to give the Captain full capacity to focus on any onboard emergency.”
The role has become so very much more complicated now but how has it affected the workload of the manager. Daniel Küpfer at Ocean Management tells us, “We have seen the industry becoming much more regulatory over the last two decades and the complexity on yacht management has significantly increased.”
“The fundamental services typically provided by a Yacht Manager have not changed in the last 5-10 years,” says Mark Patterson at Y.CO. “However,” he continues, “The yachts have become bigger and more complex, legislation and compliance has increased, crew numbers have grown and we’re working with a new generation of yacht owner, one that wants to travel extensively and use their yachts as platforms for adventure. These are factors that have reshaped the way the typical yacht management services are provided and have diversified the type of tasks that a yacht manager is required to do. That said, technology continues to advance and provide all of us with solutions to increase efficiency and maintain a sustainable work load, whilst still delivering a consistent high-quality service.”
Damian Martin believes, the basic role of a manager is the same as it has always been: to assist the Owner, Captain and crew with the safe and efficient running of the vessel. He says, “Owners have grown to understand the need for managers more, as yachts have grown larger, more expensive and the industry has become more professional. While the role has grown, so has the size of the team. We now have specialists working in support of yacht managers to ensure they have everything covered. The manager can’t know everything all the time – I think the secret is to know where to find the answers.”
Yacht managers live in a commercial environment crowded with healthy competition. They strive to set themselves apart from others who carry out the same service each highlighting their ‘elevator pitch’ or unique selling points. While many yacht management companies started life as spin off departments of brokerage houses one stands out as having reversed that trend. Hill Robinson came into existence when Nick Hill and Niall Robinson specifically created a company in 2001 to manage the complexities of large yachts, bringing owners the technical solutions they were asking for. When they were created some twenty years ago the company’s elevator pitch was their complete and utter independence from the pressures of sales brokerage dealings. They sought solely to handle safety, security, operational, accounts, crew, maintenance, and environmental concerns. While the brand has stayed true to that ethos as it has grown to operates 12 offices employing over 200 worldwide, the waters have become slightly muddied by its very close cooperation with the brokerage house Moravia Yachting, a brand they rescued from obscurity.
Daniel Küpfer at Ocean Management says, “Our USP is that we see ourselves as Co-Managers of the yacht. It is often forgotten that the Manager onboard is the Captain. This understanding is of paramount importance for those ashore supposed to support Yacht Captains successfully.