At the annual Azimut Benetti Yachtmaster collaboration of superyacht captains, it seems crew quality is the order of the day.
Speaking on stage as part of a series of interviews during the event, Captain Bruce Handyside, master of successful 50m charter vessel JO, explains that the secret to his success is the quality of the crew working for him.
While being lucky enough to work for a personable owner, who is regularly on board to encourage the team, he said the key factor was his "motivated crew." Acknowledging how tough the Mediterranean season is for a busy charter yacht, "it's important to pick your crew well", he said.
"Our crew is fantastic and they get on well off the boat. The crew is the key to our success (which equates to 80 per cent repeat business) and I put this down to the continuity of crew."
The Yachmaster event brings together captains from around the world
The subject of crew quality, which increasingly appears to be a thorn in the industry's side, continued into the afternoon 'Crew Management' workshop, led by Benetti's Alessandro Gallifuoco, alongside John Cook and Andrew Schofield. The attendant captains were asked for their preferred recruitment method in a sector plagued by short-termism. And ironically, despite the demand for greater quality, the majority opinion was that 'gut feeling' and personal interaction were still the key factors in choosing crew.
Fraser Yachts' executive chairman, Roberto Giorgi imparted his substantial experience from the commercial realm, highlighting the effectiveness of psychometric testing, "when you want to turn a number two into a number one", a view echoed by Cook. And this was an important point: the crucial consideration in this process is acquiring an individual that is motivated by a career in crewing, not just the fastest route to a master's ticket.
However, there was something of a consensus among the captains that recruitment services did not provide the same level of scrutiny as a traditional one-on-one. The feeling was that personal interaction is key to ascertaining how someone will respond in a crisis. Opinion remained divided on whether personality should win out over technical proficiency and qualifications.
It seems then, that in an industry traditionally driven by networking and relationships, the route to getting the best person for the job is still very much down to the individual captain.