Steeped in heritage and tradition, classic yachts can involve very different duties of care compared with a modern yacht and require a special work ethic from their crew. TCR speaks to Captain Paul Goss, who has been captain on board 65m Adix for 23 years, about what it takes to work on board and the responsibility to preserve traditionalism that comes with it.

Captain Paul Goss at the helm of Adix during the Pendennis Cup 2014

TCR: Are there differences between how a classic yacht and how a modern yacht should be run? 

Captain Goss: As managers, captains of both classic and modern boats share the same responsibilities and duty of care, but that is where the similarities 
probably end. On any boat the style of management is driven by the expectations of the owner, so the skipper becomes the owner’s agent, so to
 speak. It is logical that owners of classics and modern boats are generally different by nature, so a captain will lean towards one or the other.

"As managers, captains of both classic and modern boats share the same responsibilities and duty of care, but that is where the similarities 
probably end."

TCR: What are the differences between crew working on a classic yacht and a modern yacht?

Captain Goss: It would have to be the level of work, particularly on a day-to-day 
basis. A classics' maintenance is far beyond that of a modern boat, and it's block-and-tackle compared to push-button. Anyone bent on an easy ride in yachting would definitely look for a modern berth. It is also a place where 
traditionalism is not a prerequisite these days.

TCR: Is there more of an expectation to keep up with traditional seamanship on 
board a classic yacht?

Captain Goss: Being traditional, and using traditional methods are inherent with 
classic yachting. In the modern world, there is a sense that it is passé. It is like the current tendency to 'dumb down' things in the belief that it is 
a waste of time, and doesn't contribute to the running of a boat in any case. Discarding traditionalism is also a quick and easy way to establish a level basis for newcomers into the industry.

65m S/Y Adix sailing during the Pendennis Cup 2014. Credit: Nick Bailey

TCR: Do you try and keep up with tradition on board Adix?  

Captain Goss: We do try to maintain tradition aboard Adix. Failing to do so is a little like not worrying about English and maths at school. It is the basis of learning our craft, and it is the foundation that yachting extends from. It is not easy though: it hurts to hear a youngster use expressions like 'up the front', 'downstairs', 'a piece of string', etc. There is correct
 terminology for everything, and they need to be reminded. If it is a chore for them, they are probably better off looking somewhere else.

It's not just terminology though; things like using the right knot for certain applications, and how to handle tasks in the proper fashion are important to us. Uniformity and cohesion are important when dealing with a situation as a
 crew. It has been the difference between good sailors and bad for 

"Even the most dismissive modern yachtsman will have admiration for a well found classic when he or she sees one on the water."

TCR: With the superyacht industry growing and developing so much, do you think 
that it is getting increasingly difficult to continue with traditional yachting?

Captain Goss: The short answer is that it is easy to discard traditionalism. It
 could be argued that the so-called 'superyacht' industry is growing so fast
 that there aren't enough traditionally capable people to go around. If we think of yachting in the grand old days of the 1920s and 30s we think classic, but they were in fact state-of-the-art at the time and most of their crew were drawn from a rich source of seamen and fishermen steeped in
tradition. We don't have that continuity today.

Read Captain Goss’ comments in full, and further opinions from classic yacht captains on ‘Keeping up with tradition’, in issue 70 of The Crew Report here.

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