A superyacht’s captain won’t always be around from the start in a new build project. In a refit, however, it is commonplace that a captain is there from the start, will aid the project significantly and see it through until its completion. So what happens when a spanner is thrown in the works and the yacht’s captain changes halfway through a refit? How does this affect the project, the shipyard team and the final result?

“It is certainly preferable that the personnel who agreed the plan and start the project are around through [to] its conclusion so there is continuity,” says James Brewer, head of business development at Derecktor Shipyards. “But,” he adds, “if there is a good plan, a change of captain hallway through the project is not really a problem.”

If the project plan – including bills of material, responsibilities, general schedule and pricing – is well developed, and done so prior to work being started, then the impact of a mid-project change in personnel is significantly lessened, explains Brewer. And, not only does it not have to be a problem; there can even be benefits. “A fresh set of eyes and ears is sometimes beneficial to a project that is experiencing challenges,” adds Brewer.

"A fresh set of eyes and ears is sometimes beneficial to a project that is experiencing challenges."
- James Brewer, business development, Derecktor Shipyards

Lürssen’s 68m motoryacht Global (ex Kismet) finished an extensive refit this year, under the project management of Hill Robinson, and the yacht’s captain, Malcolm Jacotine, joined the project halfway through. “Often you don’t have a choice [when there is a change in personnel]. Malcolm joined because he was replacing another captain who left the vessel. And if you have a big refit or project and somebody in a senior position changes halfway through, there’s always the potential for delay or change and that’s never a good thing,” Karl Hartmann, Hill Robinson project manager and on the project management team for Global’s refit, tells The Superyacht Owner.

“However, in Malcolm’s case, he became part of the team immediately. He is an open book and you build up a good relationship where the input from their side is nine out of 10 times super valuable, as with anyone in a senior position in the team,” explains Hartmann.

Captain Jacotine joined the project with a wealth of shipyard experience behind him and, with much of the work already underway and having been decided upon by the owner’s team, this meant the captain could get on with the operational planning for the yacht upon delivery. “When he joined the vessel he had to set up his own procedures, ways of working, and he needed to do a lot of work on getting his team together for the operational side. Because we took all the refit handling and managing on, which is part of our job, he had time to focus on things things and get ready for the season,” Hartmann explains.

Lürssen 68m Global after her refit

“As anyone who has been involved with a major refit knows, it is the preparatory work and ongoing management that is the key to success, and this had all been carefully handled and executed by a team from Hill Robinson,” Captian Jacotine tells The Superyacht Owner. “For me this was a great experience as it meant I could focus more time and energy on the operational and financial aspects of running the yacht, rather than being involved in the daily details of project management.”

Of course, in most cases it is preferable to undergo minimal changes in the team throughout a refit, but when the change means added experience joining an already well-founded team, it doesn’t have to be a challenging experience. For some, that fresh set of eyes and existing preparation can mean an even more successful refit.

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