Captain Paul Bickley has a long background in the superyacht industry, but when he got the job for his current role on board Benetti’s 52.5m Latitude, he was the subject of a very interesting interview process from a first-time owner.

Many owners will bring their captain from a previous yacht onto their new boat. Some first-time owners may bring one they have met from their experience chartering while others might hire one recommended from a friend in yachting. But how does an owner completely new to the superyacht industry going about hiring his first captain for his first superyacht? Captain Bickley found himself asking this same question when he sat down with the owner of Benetti’s 52.5m Latitude.

“Once I had been short listed from other candidates, a more formal meeting was held between myself and the owner in a fine dining restaurant,” the captain explains. “It was then that I realised that this was an ideal environment in which to examine someone who will be providing a similar level of service to his guests on board their own yacht.”

It may seem like an unusual way of interviewing a superyacht captain, but for the owner, who owned racing yachts but had no experience of life on board superyachts, it was the perfect environment to examine potential candidates. “I just thought that was a great way of interviewing, because you can qualify for all the manning requirements but can you sit in a fine dining restaurant and talk about truffles and how to cut a cigar?” says Captain Bickley. “You can send me to an office in Monaco and I can sit there and talk about flags and class and tonnage and crew, but my boss actually wanted to see me hold a knife and fork in the environment that he wanted me to be in."

This is a similar method when crew hire other crew; having a qualification is not enough – it’s about fitting in with the needs of the owner, crew and guests.

“It put me on the spot,” Captain Bickley tells The Superyacht Owner. “The people that are going to be chartering the yacht are going to be accustomed to this type of experience, and the boss wanted to see me deal with it. He just wanted to see if I knew about that sort of setting, because that’s the level of experience he wanted his boat to provide.”

What is your preferred method of interview for a new captain? Is the way that they handle themselves in sophisticated social situations as important to you as their knowledge and experience as a captain? The Superyacht Owner would love to hear your thoughts:

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