As the role of the superyacht captain becomes more managerial in today’s industry, an understanding of the respective roles of a captain and a yacht manager is paramount to the smooth running of a vessel. In a preview of issue 71 of The Crew Report, we hear from four captains about how captains and managers – two types of professional who are often at loggerheads – can work better together.

How can captains and managers work better together?

Captain Stephen Edwards, S/Y Felicita West

For me, an ideal management situation is one where the professional manager acts as a safety net for both the captain and the owner. A management company should have answers to technical, legal and fiscal questions immediately to hand for the captain, to smooth the on-board admin burden and help ensure the legal requirements are met. The management should also act as a ‘sanity check’ for the owner, to ensure efficient operation and use of funds. I for one prefer to have the controlling hand in refit periods and so forth, pulling in detailed advice when needed rather than having a refit managed for me; but I suspect my previous background helps there, and that might not suit all captains.

Captain Mannie Avenia, M/Y Lady Duvera
A management company should remember that it is working for the yacht, not the other way round. If the captain and officers are spending too much time with paperwork instead of focusing on guest service, this is not support. So, how can we work better together? On one hand, companies should be more selective with who they put in a management position – the single individual can make all the difference. Communication and efficiency should be paramount for both sides – true teamwork. We should listen to each other with the true intention of understanding the problem and working together for the best solution. Experience should be valued and other points of view considered, while more logic and practicality should be put into place. The Kaizen philosophy (to continually improve) should be applied: make the yacht better and better, improve it and propose new or alternative solutions. And finally, passion and dedication should shine at the other end of the line.

Nobody should feel more important and any kind of competition should be avoided.

Captain Andrew Johnstone, M/Y Solemates
I think it is also important to recognise the relationship the owner of the vessel has with the captain and with the management company. For some owners, the job of the captain is to manage and protect their investment. In other cases, the owner relies on the management company to do that. The captain will be more familiar with the day-to-day requirements of the owner, while the management firm may have more information regarding the bigger picture. In any event, the decision-making process for the vessel should be free from the nepotism so often present in yachting. Decisions should be made with the best interests of the vessel and the owner in mind. Larger management companies should be able to help with purchasing power and existing networks, and the captain and crew should respect that yard periods in their home town may not be to the best advantage of the yacht.

Captain Roberto Beretta, M/Y Swan
Nobody should feel more important and any kind of competition should be avoided. Respect for each other and feedback are very important to grow together; nobody knows everything. Everybody has to be humble enough to understand errors and improve for next time. It is teamwork that reaches the goal: manage the yacht properly to the satisfaction of crew, guests and owners.

Find the full article with extended comments in issue 71 of The Crew Report click here to download.

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