Image copyright: Justin Ratcliffe

Following the first ever Superyacht Captains' Forum in April 2013, a constant comment heard was the complete lack of communication between the captain or project manager and the refit team. Whilst not limited to refits in Italy, the focus of the event was weighted to the Italian market and as such, has brought a number of local issues to the fore. Following up at the 2014 edition on 4 February in Viareggio, captains were making similar statements, however, it appears all is not lost and we have made some headway in the past year.

Owner's Representative, Albert McIlroy recently commented that he still enjoys working in Italy and has found "that working here, it's easy for the blame to be shifted in another direction, or on to someone else, which can sometimes be frustrating, but if managed correctly and positively, they can produce better results. I am very fortunate to have experienced this personally". As Captain Dario Savino and board member of Italianyachtmasters discussed whilst moderating breakout sessions on communication and project management: "the contract signed should be clear, with the movement towards a standard refit contract. There should be no fine print, no misleading words, or cheating on the delivery times". Thus it is insufficient to simply say that the lines of communication are open simply because you have a signed contract. Within that contract could be a myriad of loopholes and grey areas.

Captains and industry experts tackle the issues at
the Superyacht Captains' Forum

While not only limited to time spent in the yard, many captains would appreciate more details and explanations when it comes to simply arriving in the country and the different rules and regulations they will need to abide by. Captain Clive Carrington-Wood explained that "if our hosts - agents, port authorities and shipyards communicate with us clearly, providing clear instructions and information on the procedures and practises that will be expected of us, rather than assuming that we can sort everything out after our arrival, will make our arrival and stay in Italy a far more rewarding and far less frustrating experience."

Ultimately, these small steps can make or break the success of a refit, no matter the country. As Savino cautioned, hearing about and seeing the poor etiquette exercised by some yards and suppliers "can be really discouraging for the captain and of course, the owner". Why would you want to go through that process again? By simply putting in the ground work ahead of time, and maintaining a professional relationship with plenty of open communication, everyone involved could avoid a number of headaches and hard lessons learnt.

Dario Savino (centre) leads one of the breakout sessions
at the Superyacht Captains' Forum