24 May 2012
American Superyacht Forum 2012: Day Two
The second day of the American Superyacht Forum saw speakers and delegates undertake a SWOT analysis for the country’s superyacht industry, and tackle a range of in-depth issues that it faces, from design and technical challenges through to quality control in supply and services.
The first session of the day and the fourth of the conference addressed America’s Technical Challenges and Opportunities. Superyacht designer Luiz de Basto opened the discussions from the stage by commenting that US architecture is very strong; seven out of the 10 biggest and most technically complex skyscrapers are designed by Americans, which is testament to the skill base in the country and the ability to envisage the sort of design solutions needed for highly complex yacht projects. Interestingly, de Basto said that he is seeing trends in interior design where the formal office and formal dining room is becoming less and less popular, and although a minimal approach to a yacht interior is still popular, owner requests also include another level of design, such as Chinese ethnic style. He added that there are some very unusual requests he sees from clients in today’s marketplace, including one project where the owner wants a laboratory and schoolroom on board for his children, who will be travelling on the yacht with the rest of the family for a number of years of extensive world cruising.
De Basto’s suggestion to US superyacht builders was to come up with exciting concepts to bring in new interest: “Design can help, design can be exciting but nobody really takes the risk to propose exciting concepts. US yards could take more risks to attract foreign clients. US yards should propose new ideas based on the particular strengths of the yards to attract serious clients. Don’t be vague.”
He added that the US doesn’t share information as much as in Europe, which holds it back. “It’s a confusion that it is better for the individual companies but it holds back the industry and they need to look further into the future,” he concluded.
Naval architect Bill Blount, also sitting on the panel, said that although engineering in the US is on a par with anywhere in the world, five to 10 years ago the perception of the US technological abilities was stronger. “There are some very technologically advanced projects currently being built in the US but many have NDAs and are under the radar. Eventually the news will get out, but it can take a few years for the world to view the projects. People should know that there is the capability in the US.
“One area of interest for many of my clients is transport efficiency,” continued Blount. “Clients often want to know if their needs for using their yacht are met by the design in terms of efficiency, cost and political awareness of fuel consumption. Though some clients still want high performance and high speed of up to 40kn – some enquiries for these sorts of projects coming back at the lower end of the superyacht market, such as high-speed sportsfishers of 80-105ft reaching 40 knots. This is exciting and not common, and is good that the market is showing signs of recovery.”
Rick Thomas, vice president of sales at Nautical Structures Industries, commented that for many, predictable projects are considered passé: “Our business is in the unique, niche, specialty projects. This causes you to take a different view with regards to quotation and front-end engineering, coming to the client with a more professional estimate of the work needed and the cost. We are currently working on some of the biggest projects we have ever worked on, but there are fewer projects around.”
It was suggested that the geographical size of America might be a contributing factor to making it difficult to unify its superyacht shipyards, compared with countries in Europe. “It’s the history of yachtbuilding, the geographical distance between the yards so it’s harder for them to come together, and the cultural difference between the distinct countries in Europe that encourages cooperation,” answered Ed Roberts of Hodgdon Yachts from the panel. “It’s the US nature that many Americans are competitive and independent, which historically has been against the industry. Florida’s industry is one example of a region in the US that has done well to come together as an entity.”
Redmayne concluded the session by commenting that understanding the difference between American yards is a problem and also looking at the fleets of the different yards, the projects actually built are perhaps too similar. The challenge of the community is to re-engage the American potential.
Next up in the programme were the Technical Innovation Presentations, or TIPs, which gave a range of companies with interesting and innovative solutions for the yachting market.
Lasersec presented its nonlethal laser the SeaLase II that can be used for a range of security concerns, from piracy to paparazzi. The visual deterrent temporarily flashblinds potential threats but does not harm civilians if they are hit by mistake, unlike firearms.
Maretron presented its vessel monitoring system in the second of the TIPs, explaining how this makes use of cloud computing, with remote alerts for all the on board systems that can be accessed remotely by the captain, engineer, owner or yacht manager. The system can also present video from around the vessel, in the engine room or for particular valves, for example, which saves on time and human resources as it means that it saves one of the crew going to check.
The biocide-free, heavy metal-free Megasil silicon-based coating was presented to the audience by Mega Marine Group, which explained how the four-layer coating system can give various savings in time, maintenance, fuel consumption and reductions in temperature through related efficiencies.
Megafend Mooring Products explained how the company has been developing new systems as a reaction to the growth in the size of the yachts, including carbonfibre filling for the fender hooks. The company noted how transom fenders are particularly helpful for guest embarkation and disembarkation. The company will be bringing out a ball fender towards the end of the year.
Cobham Marine SeaTel presented the 4012 GX, the antenna that futureproofs vessels for Inmarsat’s impending new communications system, which is effectively “an upgrade kit for the purchase that you have made today” commented SeaTel.
UMT International showcased its full range of products and services, from davits and tender consultancy to custom lifting and chock systems as well as custom metal fabrication and mobile installation throughout south Florida. The company will be launching a new range of carbon fibre stairs at the Fort Lauderdale show this year. “A lot of our clients think we just build chocks, but actually we have a wide range of products and services,” added UMT.
Lastly, SpecTec presented its range of software to assist both DPAs and crew with keeping track of a range of paperwork on board, from crew qualifications and accounts to planned maintenance and inventory. The programs can be used for both keeping track of single vessels’ paperwork or for a fleet.
During the lunch break there was an informative workshop, What you need to know about ECDIS, provided by Mark Thiessen of Telemar Yachting and Justin Mann from Bluewater Books & Charts, with additional information provided by Amy Beavers of Maritime Professional Training. An detailed account of the workshop will be available on SuperyachtNews.com soon.
The third session of the day was entitled The Quality Control Conundrum – Achieving Better Service and Support Focus.The first panel speaker, Graeme Lord from Fairport Yacht Support, highlighted two areas where he has faced superyacht owners leaving yachting because of what they perceived to be lack of transparent or good service. The first was with a client who felt that they had been misled by the level of insurance provided while shipping their yacht to Singapore, resulting in $2 million of damage to the yacht’s interior. In the second example, an owner found a bill for €600 for a taxi journey to and from a restaurant five minutes from their docked yacht in St Barths, which he felt had resulted in poor communication from the captain about the fact the taxi would wait outside while he dined; the trust had gone between the owner and the captain and so the owner decided to leave yachting from this bad experience.
Dean du Toit of National Marine Suppliers concurred that he has heard directly from superyacht owners that they decided to sell their vessels and leave yachting as a result of what was perceived to be irresponsible levels of spending from their crew. Du Toit emphasised that this is often a result of poor planning from the crew, who will incur much higher service charges, passed on to the owner, for their lack of planning ahead. “In 2007 and 2008, crew buying was much less value-focused and more about just getting the products as soon as possible,” said du Toit, whose company supplies items for operational vessels as well as new builds. “Holding crew more accountable is a way to improve the process, and making them as efficient as possible. Earlier orders through better timekeeping will reduce the shipping and last-minute fees – not sitting in Ft Lauderdale for three months and then ordering all your supplies the week before leaving. There are some phenomenal captains who run their yachts brilliantly, but there are some crew who need to understand how to run the vessel like a business.
“We are also seeing that crew are going to multiple companies to ask for quotes, which results in us spending a lot of our time pricing for work that we often will not be given, which drives our costs up. We have had times when the actual manufacturers are being asked quotes from four or more companies for the same end client; this is inefficient, takes a lot of time and results in the owner paying more in the long run, as it costs us time and therefore money to be putting together quotes that go nowhere. We are having to teach a lot of crew how to place an order, which should be coming from the captain and feeding down,” said du Toit.
He continued by commenting that over his years in the industry, he has seen that many vessels are not carrying enough spare parts due to financial pressures, but when this results in the owner’s only two weeks off for the year for their yacht holiday being ruined as the vessel has broken down, it causes them to question the value of owning a yacht at all.
“The spectrum of the quality of the crew going into the refit yard is incredible,” said George Whitehouse, longstanding superyacht captain and VP of Rybovich refit and repair shipyard. “Many crew can be standoffish or aggressive to the yard workers to the extent that they feel that the yard is against them. A lot of crew or captains are not taking advice from companies to their owner because of communication issues.”
There was also much agreement in the room that crew can find it hard to feel that they have job security because of a growing trend in short-term employment agreements and the fact that their yachts are on the market, which can result in them feeling less appreciated by the owner, which can affect areas like communication. The area that needs to be explored is that there is joined up thinking from the owner to the deckhand, all talking a common language that needs to be defined to give our guidelines and education.
Using The Lessons We Have Learned in the USA To Build a Better Future was the aim of the last session of this year’s ASF. There should a focus on companies looking to improve their service through best practice management and professionalism in yachting, as well as not overfishing the same pool of customers when it comes to looking for new business, said panelists John Mann, chairman of the USSA and owner of Bluewater Books and Charts, and Ken Hickling, president of the ISS.
Some commented that there is no “unifying image” of what an American superyacht is, unlike other countries such as Italy or Holland. This can be a problem for when trying to get a potential owner to imagine what their American boat would be like.
The panel and audience were led by The Superyacht Group’s Chairman Martin H Redmayne to perform a SWOT analysis of the US-built superyachts. The strengths put forward were that the variety of yachts provides a broad choice for different tastes, there is also a very high standard or technology in the country, as well as a great talent pool for all levels of jobs from welders to computer scientists. The weaknesses included a fear of failure due to the lack of experience at building very large superyachts or the volume of smaller yachts compared with countries like Italy; the perceived quality of a US built yacht is lower than competitors in other parts of the world, whether this has foundation or not; and the industry appears segmented between the yacht builders and the suppliers who also supply to across the globe. The opportunities lie in the fact that the perceived lower quality can be disproved through yacht projects; the potential client base of yacht owners is probably the largest in the world when it comes to level of UHNWIs; and there is an opportunity to change the minds of those who have a misconception of the US industry through education. Finally, the threats lie in poor marketing of the US industry as a whole, and that the perception of the regulatory environment is that it is hard to enter, travel or flag with the US, though this can often be falsely negative.
There was talk of the upcoming changes to the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show this year, which is owned by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida. Carlos Vidueira, president of the Association, said that there is a lot of work going into making sure that the show is professional this year and ensures visitors have a positive experience [more to come on this on SuperaychtNews.com soon].
“There needs to be a focus from everyone on improving themselves rather than hoping that others should improve. We need to work out how we can improve each of our products to continually improve and make it better year on year,” concluded Vidueira.
“We are in a marketplace with so much potential, great cruising opportunities along the biggest coast in the world and the only way to get owners to come into the business is to encourage trials in order to encourage new business from new clients. We should be looking at innovative ways to bring in people to love the experience,” summised Redmayne.
With much discussion on how to improve the US superyachting industry over the two days of this tenth anniversary of the American Superyacht Forum, Redmayne gave his closing words to the audience as a rallying call to seize opportunities and rebuild the industry from its great potential as one of the largest potential pools of superyacht owners in the world and not to focus on the negatives.
The day's sessions were followed by an indoor barbecue (due to weather issues) and drinks at the Bimini Boatyard hosted by Intellisea. The next day, the delegates headed out to the ocean for some friendly competition at fishing, sponsored by Chelsea Clock, Goldring & Goldring, ISS GMT and Medaire, with ships' clocks prizes provided by Chelsea Clock. Athough there was not a huge number of fish eager to be caught that morning, kudos to JK Nicholas of Chelsea Clock who caught a 25lb black fin tuna that provided some sustenance for all who were there.
ASF 2012 is sponsored by AwlGrip, MTN Communications, MTU and Palladium.
The ASF Sport Fishing Tournament is sponsored by Goldring & Goldring, Chelsea Clock, ISS GMT and MedAire.
Merchandise sponsors are Hodgon Yachts and Pacific Bound Yachts.
ASF 2012 is supported by:
Come Sea U.S.
The Florida Yacht Brokers Association (FYBA)
The International Superyacht Society
Marine Industries Association of South Florida (MIASF)
National Marine Suppliers
United States Superyacht Association
American Superyacht Forum
ASF 2012 Day One - what was said?
Add a comment
Other Events News
Organisers of the four day regatta held from 19-22 June have announced sponsors as well as the provisional line up of 19 sailing superyachts. More
On day two delegates split into four workshop groups so they could dissect specific areas of the industry in order to map out an intelligent road to change. The machinery group concluded that the industry may be over-complicating engineering process More
The second day of the American Superyacht Forum 2013 divided delegates into four workshop groups so that they could dissect specific areas of the industry and identify the problems in order to map out an intelligent road to change. In this marketing More
The second day of the American Superyacht Forum 2013 divided delegates into four workshop groups so that they could dissect specific areas of the industry and identify the problems in order to map out an intelligent road to change. More
Superyacht Intelligence Data
Most Recent Comments
Bond TM is an independent consultancy company for AV, IT, communication, navigation and security systems. We manage new builds and refits projects for the most advanced super yachts and provide to the industry the best 24/7 IT support.
Reckmann Yacht Equipment GmbH
Reckmann Yacht Equipment GmbH is a specialist company for reefing systems, masts and hydraulics and will celebrate the 120th anniversary in 2012. Today, the company is one of the leading producers and traders of headsail reefing equipment and is a synonym for quality, continuity and innovation.
ASEA POWER SYSTEMS
ASEA POWER SYSTEMS is the Marine Industry Leader for Shore Power Conversion equipment ranging in power from 8kVA - 1000kVa.
Helkama Bica Oy
Helkama is specializing in development and production of marine and offshore cables. Our experience in this field goes back more than thirty years. We produce only halogen free cables and the cable range include both flame-retardant and fire resistant cables. Helkama marine cables are approved by all major classification societies.
For 40 years Pantaenius has been providing yacht insurance to yacht owners all over the world.
Nautic Crew International, Inc.
Nautic Crew Intl is a Crew placement company started by yachting professionals that truly care about your future crew because we understand the dynamics of life onboard. When it comes to hiring new crew or looking for a position, Experience the Difference!!