While she acknowledges there are many differences between yachting and the rest of the maritime world, Captain Franco points out this does not mean the superyacht industry should isolate itself. With yachts continuing to increase in size, she believes closer ties between industry sectors actually prove beneficial. “Larger yachts have brought in different people at officer level,” she explains. “Because of increasing sizes a lot of professionals are coming in from the merchant industry for their tickets if nothing else. This has introduced the exchanging of crewmembers from the different industries, which brings in different levels of knowledge. Yachties don’t necessarily know everything and neither do the merchant guys, so it is a good exchange of ideas. I worked on a very large yacht where we had that exchange and it was very valuable.”
However progression became harder the further along the career ladder she went. “At chief officer level it became really difficult,” she recalls. “Whether it was the captain or the owner, I think some people were intimidated by my experience. But this is typical of the yachting industry – not the maritime industry. Because the rest of the maritime industry comprises big companies, these companies have to offer equal opportunities and they cannot afford to discriminate. The yachting industry is definitely more discriminating in this way. Where this discrimination is coming from I don’t know, but I think it’s at a different level. Certainly with large yachts, those 50m upwards, it can often be to do with the nationality of the owners, who don’t normally put women in positions of power or for cultural reasons would not want a female captain.”
Find the full interview in the upcoming issue 73 of The Crew Report - download here.