At the 2014 Monaco Yacht Show, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and Professional Yachting Association (PYA) launched the Superyacht Tender Operators course. Six months in the making, and designed specifically to tackle the knowledge gap of those crewmembers tasked with the heavy responsibility of operating tenders, the course is here. We find out how it has fared so far and point out the potential pitfalls should its place on the training map not be understood.  

“Once we started to peel back the layers of the onion, it was definitely identified that there was a lot missing,” explains Richard Falk, chief examiner at the RYA. “The industry identified on-board training wasn’t happening consistently across all vessels. What we’re looking at is people entering the industry, who literally step on board a yacht and can be handed the keys to the tender and told to go and pick up a guest.” Falk estimates that 30,000 crewmembers take Power Boat level two (PB II) every year – he believes the figure for the new Superyacht Tender Operators course will be just a few thousand, proving just how niche this is to our industry.

Credit: Cockwells

The new course, which asks for PB II as a prerequisite, covers key elements specific to driving a superyacht tender that PB II – now part of the ‘expected’ green crew package – does not. “For many years, my deckhands arrived with a Yachtmaster Certificate and a PB II. Through demand and necessity that is changing,” explains Captain Graeme Riddle of M/Y Princess Too. “Now it’s more a basic STCW package, PB II and ENG1. The Yachtmaster was always a little overkill for a deckhand; it is theoretically a command certificate after all, but it did give them suitability for longer tender runs and night navigation in the tenders. This is the main area I see as beneficial in the new RYA Superyacht Tender Operators Course, and is a real improvement from PB II which, like the Yachtmatser, was not designed for the purpose for which we have come to use it.”

But there is a catch-22. This course has come about as a result of a lack of skills surrounding tender operation, so who is going to teach it? “The instructor was very knowledgeable, but had never actually worked on a superyacht,” says Leeming, who took the course at Marine Matters in Southampton, UK. “It would have been nice to have had somebody who had worked on a superyacht to get some really hands-on experience.”

"The instructor was very knowledgeable, but had never actually worked on a superyacht."

A crewmember taking the Superyacht Tender Operators course will not have vessel-specific training. For some captains, this is enough to veto the course altogether. Captain Mike Conquest of M/Y Golden Eagle believes the answer to improved tender operations is not another course. “The chances are the crew will take this course, go on a 10m RIB of some sort and it won’t be what we have on board. We might have a limousine or a jet drive, and the crewmember won’t have achieved what is needed,” he explains. “Advanced PB would be helpful, but to actually handle and manoeuvre boats anybody who’s got some sense, done PB II and got experience on smaller boats needs to be taught on the boat they’re going to be driving. Not in some boat that just happens to be bigger, longer and more powerful.”

Find the full article in issue 73 of The Crew Report - download here.