With a growing fleet and increased media exposure, the superyacht industry has never been so globally recognised. This has led to a new generation of crew coming into the industry that have different expectations and, in some cases, attitudes towards their career. In a preview of issue 68 of The Crew Report, we speak to Captain Ian Westman of 42m motoryacht Sofia about the trends he is experiencing with entry-level crew.

Sofia. Credit: Moonen

 “The thing with crew now – and we have probably felt this for the past three years – is the sheer number of green crew coming into the industry,” contemplates Captain Ian Westman, who adds that this is making his job as captain all the more difficult. “It is hard to discern between them because they are all coming in with exactly the same qualifications,” he explains. “We had to advertise for a deckhand and we received one-hundred CVs in two days that all said exactly the same thing. How do you filter one-hundred people, all with exactly the same CV? You just can’t.”

The past decade has seen the superyacht industry undergo enormous growth and evolution. This growth, driving demand and exposure, has meant an influx of a new generation of crew. However, it is not just the quantity that is troubling Captain Westman, as he identifies that one noticeable difference is the quality of the incoming crew.

“When I started in the industry, I came from a life spent on the water,” he says. “But a lot of these candidates are coming with nothing – one person even applied who had never been on a boat before. If you are going to be a mariner, you should really have been on a boat.” And this lack of relevant experience is not the only concern for Captain Westman; he is witnessing an emerging trend among the new generation of crew. “Crew are coming in with a sense of entitlement from the beginning,” he observes. “One of the first things they ask about is money, salary, leave, ‘What do I get?’ and ‘What do I give to get?’ So when I hear those questions from the beginning, they are not the crewmember for me.

"Crew are coming in with a sense of entitlement from the beginning."

This type of mentality is something that Captain Westman ensures is not brought on board Sofia: “I don’t know if some captains let it go, but I don’t take it on this boat at all. My crew are young – the average age is about twenty-three – but they are a really switched-on bunch and they are keen. I took a long time to pick them because our boss is really very interactive with the crew. The owner wants the same faces and he will sit and talk with a crewmember happily for three hours on the main deck and ask them about their lives. So it took a long time to really look at personalities and licensing because we are very selective.”

The superyacht industry has gained a vast amount of exposure in recent years and this has led to many crew coming in with a false impression of what they can expect. If one of the first things crew are now asking about in a job interview is money, this is a mentality that needs to be addressed. We need to create a culture of crew focusing less on the high salaries and extended time off and make knowledge and experience the main priority on board. With captains at the forefront of instilling this attitude, as Captain Westman is doing on board Sofia, the industry will be able to increase its professional reputation and attract crew for the right reasons, who will be responsible for its growth in the future.

Find the full article in issue 68 of The Crew Reportclick here to download.