Over past years the public eye’s interest in the superyacht industry has increased alongside the growing use of social media and the ability to receive information almost instantly thanks to social media and the web. The superyacht industry, however, is home to some very high-profile individuals, whether owners or charter clients, and with a progressively aggressive paparazzi, the demands on and frustrations of captains, managers and owners are on the rise.

For Fraser Yachts charter broker Gina Robertson, the paparazzi can go a long way to disturbing brokers’ efforts to preserve their clients’ privacy. “It is frustrating when we strive to maintain our client’s privacy only to have the paparazzi step in and broadcast news of the client’s getaway,” Robertson explains, who has had to deal with this on one particular occasion. “The crew and I were required to sign confidentiality agreements. In the end, it was the entourage of the client’s girlfriend who gave away my client’s whereabouts to the paparazzi.”

The 147m Topaz has recently been on the list of yachts in the public eye due to some high-profile clients

However the paparazzi won’t always wait for a tip-off; in some cases they approach the captains themselves. “You get paparazzi offering huge amounts of money to take a photo. They give you a menu of what they want a photo of someone doing. It’s ruthless, absolutely ruthless, but it’s the tabloids,” explains the captain of a charter yacht popular with some of today’s high-profile figures. “You’ve got a camera coming up on the end of the broomstick, here at anchor, with someone on a jetski. It’s like, what are you doing? All they want is the dirt,” adds the captain.

"It’s ruthless, absolutely ruthless, but it’s the tabloids."
- superyacht captain

An immediate response for many is to blame a yacht’s crew for announcing their latest VIP guest through social media. However even when crew adhere to the strictest of rules, the paparazzi often still get what they’re after and this is something this particular captain’s recently crew discovered. “One of the crew came up to me and told me about a headline they had seen and the headline was, ‘[Anonymous VIP]’s yacht crew tired of [VIP’s] partying’. I was trying to find out where this came from and there was a company in London that somebody had told me about that was like cyber detectives. I called them and gave them the name of the boat and they said, ‘Have you got this crewmember on board?’ and I said yes, and they said, ‘Did she work on the late shift?’ and I said I thought she had done the set-up for breakfast, and they said, ‘Yeah, that’s where your problem is.’ She had made a comment just before six-o’clock in the morning on Facebook to her sister saying, ‘Just going to bed, had a late night, speak tomorrow’. Her Facebook had been hacked; they got that snippet of information and wrote this headline. It was an innocent comment saying, ‘Goodnight, I’m going to bed, it’s been a long day’. But how the media get in and tap our Facebook accounts, and having [anonymous VIP] on board every year, it’s unbelievable the lengths they’ll go to,” says the captain.

Robertson adds, however, “There is really nothing much we can do to keep our client’s information private after the paparazzi get a hold of it. Of course the interest in certain clients has grown along with their popularity. For example, Leonardo di Caprio was recently shown on a rented or leased yacht in Brazil, where it is not legal to charter. Subsequently, the media went on to speculate that perhaps he just ‘borrowed’ the yacht from its owner.”

The superyacht industry is growing in popularity and, with these vessels hard to miss, it is likely we will see more and more of them in the mainstream media. It is important, therefore, that all those involved – crew, brokers and the clients themselves – understand how they can best protect a yacht’s privacy.

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