Instead of a gang of black-suited goons clearing a path to the champagne bar, what the best security companies in the market offer is an extra layer of thinking and preparation. In many ways, the best superyacht security should be rebranded ‘safety and forward planning’. Don Hoyt Gorman spoke to Andy Young of SPS Security about what the best security teams keep in mind.
Driver training is key
Car accidents are the number one source of safety and security issues for wealthy westerners when travelling abroad. “Having a well-trained driver, schooled in defensive driving and knowledgeable about the local roads is one of the best things you can do to make sure your day trip is all about the scenery,” says Young, whose clients include high-profile celebrities and billionaires whose travels take them all around the world.
“In a lot of the places our clients go, we can’t be armed,” Young says. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Reliance on guns, even if they are concealed, can lead to a false sense of security. What’s more important, Young says, is keeping a small footprint, which isn’t always easy if you’re travelling with a yacht’s worth of guests and crew accompaniment. “Our job is to help the client and the family have a really nice time by feeling relaxed,” says Young. “If they can see us scanning rooftops for threats, it can be upsetting, and it also alerts the locals.”
Proper prior planning
With more superyacht clients choosing to venture out of the usual stomping grounds of the Med and Caribbean, the need for a deep understanding of the options and risks ahead of time are increasing as well. The trick is knowing how to handle the situation at the first instance. Typical scenarios – unusual requests for money, detainment, and disputes – if not handled properly, can spiral out of control.
Give yourself options
Most of SPS’s work is facilitation. That’s not code for paying people off, but instead describes the process of making sure the client’s itinerary works out as it was planned, without any hitches. Where there are hitches, they know ahead of time what those are likely to be, and they have a plan. Young explains that if a yacht is moving around a lot, one of the team will go out ahead of the yacht to each destination and make sure they get the best berth and have dedicated cars with top trained drivers for example. Having a dedicated forward-thinking team on hand ensures the whole trip comes off looking almost effortless.
Let the captain focus on the yacht
“The captain’s primary function is to take care of the yacht,” states Young. “But when the client’s activities are land based, which tends to be where most of the risk is, obviously that’s where we come in.” By virtue of their often close relationship with the owner, and their executive role, captains may not want to admit that they don’t have all the answers and can even resist the use of a specialised security team, worried that it might undermine their role or experience or position in the eyes of the owner. “I just always tell captains, ‘Our job is to make you look good,’” explains Young.
The full article appears in Issue 11 of The Superyacht Owner. To subscribe and receive the magazine, click here.
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