While a multitude of external factors affect our industry’s augmentation, a prosperous captain-owner relationship is absolutely invaluable to keeping our owners happy and crew longevity figures up, and as such is a lucrative asset for our industry. But a relationship isn’t created the moment captain and owner shake hands; it is nurtured and established over time. We speak to Captain Mike Conquest, captain of Golden Eagle, about the benefits of this partnership.

“First, it is important to realise that trusting relationships take some time to develop, and this is the case with owners and captains, as well as with life’s other more intimate relationships,” explains Captain Conquest, who has been on board Golden Eagle for coming up to four years. “Second, I believe there are two types of owners: one for whom the yacht is just another toy or facility; and the other for whom the yacht is his pride and joy.”

The benefits of a strong owner-captain relationship, for the owner, are endless, particularly when he meets the requirements of this second category of owner. “An owner develops a trust in his captain to look after the yacht, his significant investment, as if it were his own. He – the owner – has the knowledge, rather than the hope, that all his spend on the yacht, his pride and joy and certainly one of his major investments, is being looked after and not wasted,” Captain Conquest explains.

“He knows when he arrives that everything on board will be according to his own tastes and preferences. And this knowledge of an owner’s preferences, likes and dislikes is of great importance in helping the captain look after and prepare the yacht and its cruising programme to maximise the owner’s enjoyment on board, in the specific way he wants. Not all owners are after the same type of experience on board their yacht and this is where the relationship enables both to enjoy the experience to the maximum. And in time this knowledge is naturally passed on to the rest of the crew, who also get to know what is needed on board. Wastefulness and unnecessary acquisitions can be avoided.”

"It is so sad to see yachts being run by people who have little or no contact with the owners."

A captain’s hierarchal position at the top of the mast finds itself greatly strengthened with the support of a successful relationship with an owner, adds Captain Conquest. “This relationship is also a very powerful tool for the captain’s own relationship with the crew, as hopefully he has, with his owner’s backing, full responsibility for the yacht, including the hiring and firing of crew. A well-run yacht is a good team effort and a good team needs to know and trust the leader, which should start with the captain. His relationship with the owner really helps the crew understand the hierarchy on board and the way the yacht will be run.”

But in recent years as yachts have been getting bigger, captains have had to become accustomed to the support of a third party, which has often created a ‘three’s a crowd’ scenario that can hinder the progression of a captain-owner relationship. “Management companies certainly have a very important role to play; I am not against management companies at all and I do miss the support, especially on the technical and regulatory side, but there are both good practices and bad when it comes to management and it is so sad to see yachts being run by people who have little or no contact with the owners.”

Find the full interview in issue 66 of The Crew Report.