spoke to Udo Kleinitz, recent successor to the role of Secretary General at ICOMIA. Kleinitz replaced Tony Rice, who retained the role for 13 years, in June. And although he says he is still finding his feet, plans are in motion and he is determined to continue Rice’s work.

Having worked as boatbuilder for 15 years, he worked for ICOMIA as its technical manager for five years until 2013. After two years with the British Marine Federation, heading Technical Services, he has returned as Rice's successor. 

What do you think the important issues are that ICOMIA needs to focus on?

There is the delivery of continuity to ICOMIA’s work. We are a member organisation representing the interests of marine industry associations, engine manufacturers and our sustaining members. These members are organised through a variety of committees and groups, which set the scheme for our work. Next to it, our core business is providing the only source of industry statistics, which we are constantly improving, plus representative tasks such as attending stakeholder meetings and co-organising conferences.

Looking back at the achievements of Tony, he put a lot of effort into the superyacht industry, by creating the superyacht division in ICOMIA then the Refit Group and the Applicators Group. This was followed by the challenges from legislation arising from ILO and IMO related to the Maritime Labour Convention and Tier III. This impressive work has to be continued.

We started to take out subjectivity of determining whether a paint job is 'good' or 'bad', by creating a four-pillar approach to the assessment of paint application consisting of ISO standards for the quality measurement and application of paint, determining minimum acceptance criteria and qualification of coatings inspectors.

There is also work to be done in the ICOMIA Refit Group. Our refit contract requires improvement where issues over insurance currently need to be tidied up. And of course, there is the imminent application of IMO Tier III emission limits, which is being implemented on yachts >500gt in January 2016, so we need to work with key authorities in clarifying the interpretation. For vessels above 24m and below 500gt, the rule is delayed until 2021, so we need to maintain our dialogue with the equipment suppliers to resolve the challenges this sector has in meeting the rule. This is still a huge task ahead and the meetings we are currently planning for MYS will help in further shaping this activity.

From left to right: Udo Kleinitz, ICOMIA Sec Gen; Thom Dammrich, NMMA, ICOMIA President; Andrea Razeto, UCINA, ICOMIA Vice President; Jouko Huju, Finnboat, ICOMIA Vice President; Tony Rice, ICOMIA Retired Sec Gen.

What plans do you have, personally?

What is personally of great interest are our initiatives and research we are putting into new markets - Latin America and South East Asia specifically.

Our next projects will cover a mission to Colombia and Mexico. The Colombian industry has set up an association that already joined ICOMIA, so we are going to visit them and see if ICOMIA can help in their activities such as lobbying, promoting boating and make sure the industry-supporting mechanisms are working. There is already a great degree of support from our member in the US (NMMA), but we just want to see how we can bring in ICOMIA’s pool of members and their experience into this to help establish this as a long-term market by creating the infrastructure, that keeps boaters happy. 

A different situation applies for Mexico, where a large percentage of the population can afford high-end products, but there are only few distributors who are not joined through an industry association. We believe this joining of forces helps our sector to reach its full potential. 

Similar growth expectations with similar issues exist in South East Asia, and we are just about to start research into ASEAN countries, hopefully creating a pool of data shared with stakeholders that assists the same principle - to cooperate on non-commercial issues and creating a boat industry-friendly environment. One example of benefits for the large yacht community will hopefully be the creation of cruising protocols in this area, harmonising and mutually agreeing on entry criteria that open waters for smooth operation of yachts.

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