From his forward vantage point in commercial shipping, Harry Vafias, owner of Stealth Gas as well as three superyachts, sees the rules and regulations that are starting to impact the superyacht industry from a long way off.
“It’s not surprising that the yachting industry has become more bureaucratic,” Vafias explains.
“New rules and regulations start with aviation, move to shipping and then go to the yachting industry: you can’t have a fully regulated shipping industry and not have a fully regulated yachting industry."
Vafias, whose yachts include the striking and beamy Jon Bannenberg-designed Southern Cross III and the 47m 1987 Feadship-built X, is focused on the impact of new regulations on his business.
“We have new water-ballast regulations that are not only strict but the treatment systems are very expensive to install."
Vafias explains that until very recently, all of his and his shipping family’s crew used traditional paper charts for navigation, but now must use ECDIS electronic charting systems.
“These are not simple to teach when you have crew who have worked on paper for 20 years—they don’t like it,” he says. “Then we have the emissions regulations, which means you need to either install exhaust scrubbers or use natural gas when trading in the emission control areas of northern Europe or North America."
For Vafias’ shipping concerns, which include LNG carriers, oil tankers and dry bulk cargo vessels, the regulations are a disadvantage and a costly exercise.
“But all of these regulations will also dramatically change the face of yachting,” he says. “Either people must accept that and swallow the cost and complexities and the anxieties created by these, or they can charter a yacht and leave somebody else to worry about these things!”
Vafias does however love his yachts—his reverence for Jon Bannenberg designed and Feadship built vessels is infectious. He uses Southern Cross III himself and insists her beam gives her the feeling of a yacht half again as large.
With his deep grasp of marine regulations and the responsibility of a ship and yacht owner, Vafias is in the ideal position to escape and relax when he enjoys his yacht. He spends his time yachting in his native Greek isles.
Read the full interview with Harry Vafias in the forthcoming Issue 15 of The Superyacht Owner magazine.