On 19 April, a mixture of captains, shipyard representatives and key industry stakeholders met for an exclusive event at Lusben’s refit yard in Viareggio, Italy. The eighth edition of The Superyacht Captains’ Forum, which was staged by The Superyacht Group as part of the Yachting Aftersales and Refit Experience 2018 (YARE), saw delegates gather for a day of interactive workshops that aimed to generate candid discourse on a host of issues that occur before, during and after a refit. Captains, suppliers and yards all had the opportunity to air their grievances and share best practice in an off-the-record environment - working constructively towards ironing out some of the creases that occur in the midst of a refit.

Martin Redmayne, CEO of The Superyacht Group, kick-started the day’s event with a keynote speech that explored the health of the superyacht market across the full spectrum of size ranges, expounding the importance of an effective refit market that was able to meet the growing size of the fleet, both in terms of units and vessel sizes, and the increasing complexity of today’s projects. "Refit is the future because quality, professional repair and maintenance will drive this industry forward," he commented. "With 600-800 annual projects of all sizes, superyacht refit has the potential to be the economic driver of the future prosperity of the industry.”

Following the opening address, delegates were split into three groups and assigned a workshop. Over the course of three workshops throughout the day, delegates got a chance to discuss issues within the refit market with a panel of industry experts, and subjects varied from planning and project management to the role of crew during a refit. As moderator of one of the workshops, it was clear to me that the pervading issues include poor communication, a lack of information, and clashing personalities, with delegates and panelists alike joking that the process of implementing a refit would be far simpler if it was possible to guarantee that there are reasonable individuals on both sides of every project.

One of the day’s hottest topics was the process of planning a refit, with captains highlighting the perceived lack of interest that some yards show captains if a project is unlikely to turn into immediate business. Conversely, the shipyards argued that they require more comprehensive specification lists and budgets from the captain or owner’s advisory team.

Captains also queried the wildly varied quotes and estimates that they receive from yards. Both factions agreed that they could do more to be transparent and that a code of best practice may prove to be beneficial.

Over the coming months, The Superyacht Group will be working on the production of an industry white paper, informed by the candid conversations at The Superyacht Captains’ Forum, with the aim of producing a robust point of reference for refit project preparedness and delivery, based on the experiences of the attendant experts.

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