While the summer season remains a mystery as to whether or not it will happen, there is an emerging opportunity for shipyards and subcontractors to carry out work outside of the usual refit season for the vessels that are not currently out at sea.

SuperyachtNews spoke to exclusively to Kevin Viles, Commercial Director at Finishing De Luxe, for updates from the perspective of the paint applicators as the suspension of work at many shipyards begins to be lifted.

“Fortunately, we have been able to remain productive, particularly with our projects in Holland. We’ve been able to maintain production while honouring social distancing requirements,” began Viles.

Finishing De Luxe has done this by dividing its workforce into two teams – a night shift and a day shift. “We have also had a lot less personnel in the yards that we are working within, and many of our teams are in shared housing so we have tried to keep those households together,” Viles added.

“Within our industry, we are the ‘PPE kings’ somewhat! Every day is a case of putting on facemasks, gloves, and some of the most industrial PPE because of the polyurethanes and fumes in the materials we work with,” explained Viles, which is one of the reasons why the company has been fortunate enough to be able to maintain production.

General Manager of Finishing De Luxe, Moustafa Ichtiar, was well-prepared to adapt to the new conditions and regulations facing workplaces at present. “[Moustafa] had worked through the SARS epidemic before, which was a similar situation. He was therefore prepared for the adaption process needed due to coronavirus, and made sure that we had everything we needed supply wise,” said Viles.

“We’ve been very lucky compared to some others. We have a project in France that we did have to stop in March due to COVID-19, but this will pick up again soon as the shipyard reopens for contractors. We’ll pick up where we left off and everyone has been understanding of the necessary delays,” Viles continued.

"If owners are suddenly able to enjoy a small bit of the summer season, yards will be under pressure from these owners and will, therefore, put this pressure onto the contractors..." - Kevin Viles, Commercial Director - Finishing De Luxe

“We are lucky to have a mutual understanding with the supply chain. You’ve got to be understanding as it’s still a growing situation and there’s no secret as to why there are delays for clients. It should be self-explanatory, but there may well be pressure if owners are suddenly able to enjoy a small bit of the summer season, yards will be under pressure from these owners and will, therefore, put this pressure onto the contractors,” said Viles, adding that for the most part, people have been accepting of delays.

Technically speaking, superyacht paint jobs are broken down into sub-sections, then that section goes through various stages until the final top coat, so, according to Viles, there have not been any situations where the paint applicators have had to stop mid-work. “In France, we were at the 545-primer stage, so we’d left it in a coat of primer and that’s now suitable to go back to, to start the glossing process. It’s a sealed surface so you don’t have to worry about contaminants while away from the job,” he explained. 

When asked whether Viles foresees a harsher inspection from paint surveyors to ensure the highest quality of work has been completed over this period of a staggered workforce, Viles explained that he does not believe this will be the case, due to how closely Finishing De Luxe works with inspection companies and pain surveyors, combined with their own strict quality control systems.  

“This has a positive effect in some ways, as we could have quite a busy period outside of the refit season when the boats would usually be sailing..."

Other than the suspension of some shipyards, resulting in the rescheduling of a few projects, Viles explained that potentially some projects will be brought forward. “This has a positive effect in some ways, as we could have quite a busy period outside of the refit season when the boats would usually be sailing,” said Viles. “We’ve had positive noises from different management companies that we work with on a daily basis, so we’ve just got to be cautious… Be prepared for the worst and hope for the best! 

“We’re all having to diversify a lot in our approaches to work, in terms of conference calls. This has been great as the more people are desk-bound, the more time there is for in-depth conversations about projects with key decision-makers, and planning for the future,” concluded Viles.

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