Superyachts are an optional, luxury asset – there is no doubt about that. So as an industry, to keep owners interested and keep the industry afloat, it is imperative we minimise the barriers to ownership.

One barrier that has been ever-present in the industry, and one that a number of captains are getting more vocal about today, is that of captains’ nationalities and the relevant level of input owners, managers and recruiters should have in the recruitment process. Interestingly, speaking to the industry, captains are divided as to whether an owner should be able to dictate the nationality of a yacht’s captain.


Credit: Alexis Andrews

“We constantly hear that captains, managers, owners or crew agencies want professional crew but they do not show any evidence of professionalism themselves. They select crew based on their nationality and not their competency,” explains Captain Stève Pondart. However, it seems the line between nationality-based discrimination and owner preference is becoming blurred.

The danger is, for captains to accuse owners, managers or recruitment agents of discrimination is to add a negative atmosphere to an integral facet of yachting life. We must keep in mind that superyacht owners are investing their own money into these luxury and non-essential assets, hence surely he or she should have the choice to determine – within reason – anything he or she wishes on board? This is the view held by Captain Massimo Marras of Vulcan 46: “For an owner, a yacht is something very personal that reflects his or her personality and taste. The owner is investing lots of economic resources in a yacht and of course he or she can decide how the boat should be. There is nothing to argue about discrimination if the owner prefers crew with specific characteristics, and this may certainly include nationality.”


“For an owner, a yacht is something very personal that reflects his or her personality and taste. There is nothing to argue about discrimination if the owner prefers crew with specific characteristics, and this may certainly include nationality.”
- Captain Massimo Marras, Vulcan 46


And Captain Marras touches upon a good point – the very nature of yachting and ownership, something Simon Harvey, principle director at Neurons 2 People Skills also believes must be considered. “In reality [yachting] is not much of a commercial activity, nor does it offer owners huge profits. Rather, it is a place where owners can chew through large amounts of funds. If there are more regulations and hoops to jump through for owners, are we not as an industry biting the hand that feeds us?”

In this increasingly regulated industry it is important that owners understand the line between discrimination and owner preference.