Steeped in heritage and tradition, classic yachts can attract a very different breed of owner compared to the modern superyacht. Captain Paul Goss has been captain on board 65m classic schooner Adix for 23 years, and as a result is well qualified to give opinions on the responsibilities that come with running, and owning, such a yacht. TSO catches up with Captain Goss about his experience of the classic yacht sector.

Captain Paul Goss at the helm of Adix

“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,” Captain Goss explains. “It is logical, therefore, that owners of classics and modern boats are generally different by nature, so a captain will lean towards one or the other.”

By this, Captain Goss means that an owner of a classic can look forwarded to working with like-minded captains and crew. “Crew on classics have a lot of passion for what they do,” he explains. “A modern boat skipper will probably be more performance oriented and technically inclined. Of course, it is not unusual for a contemporary skipper to gravitate to classics later on in his or her career, much the same way as people retire to the country, or develop a love of antiques or classic cars.”

“It takes a huge commitment these days for an individual to field a proper, classically styled yacht, and those owners should be applauded.”

But with the yachting industry constantly evolving, and with new technology interfering with traditional methods, a truly classic yacht is getting harder and harder to come by. “It is easy to discard traditionalism,” he adds. “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.”

Adix sailing at the 2014 Pendennis Cup, Falmouth

But does this mean the decline of traditionalism? “Certainly in modern competitive yachting, traditionalism is really unnecessary,” answers Captain Goss. “The emphasis is on new technology that makes boats faster, simpler, and easier to handle. This in turn is flowing over into large modern yacht culture.”

While the number of classic and traditional yachts may be being increasingly outnumbered by modern yachts on the water, Goss does not believe this means that the number of passionate classic owners is fading. “Even the most dismissive modern yachtsman will have admiration for a well found classic when he or she sees one on the water, even though the intricacies are probably beyond them,” he concludes. “It takes a huge commitment these days for an individual to field a proper, classically styled yacht, and those owners should be applauded.”

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