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TSF Live 2021 - Captains Edition panel highlighted pressing issues

YARE 2021 provided the perfect platform for some of the superyacht industry's brightest to get to work on solutions…

The Superyacht Forum Live – Captains Edition took place during the 11th edition of the Yachting Aftersales and Refit Experience (YARE) from 20-22 October 2021 in Viareggio. The three days in Tuscany provided a dynamic venue for discussion, debate, and vitally, solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing the superyacht industry. In a fascinating opening discussion, the foundation was laid for some of the industry's most experienced stakeholders to develop ideas beyond the conference hall discussions. 

Thursday 21st October saw The Superyacht Group's Chairman Martin Redmayne joined by Feargus Bryan, director of Watermark Yacht Management. Ken Hickling of Sherpa 63, John Leonida, consulting superyacht industry advisor, Captain Malcolm Jacotine,  and Alberto Perrone da Zara, sales director of yacht service and refit at Lürssen.

Predictably, sustainability was a common topic, but as highlighted by Bryan, all too often, the industry's approach is noble but disconnected. "We, as an industry, are making very good but disjointed inroads into how to deal with the sustainability issue for yachts. We need to start looking at yachting as an ecosystem in itself." And as Bryan continued, with environmental issues pressing, the time for idle conversation is over, and action is needed. "How do we actually do this? Do we, like every other industry and every other government, set up a series of target dates that we're going to achieve to get to a certain level of sustainability?"

Left to right: Captain Malcolm Jacotine, Alberto Perrone da Zara and Feargus Bryan

"The industry is going through a boom period at the moment; shipyards are getting filled up very, very quickly", commented Perrone da Zara, continuing, "what can we do to make the pre-arrival process for refit better? None of us has time anymore. The owners want the boats back quickly. The shipyards are full. The supply chain is creaking on all the material supply. How do we make this better?" Perrone de Zara's words, especially regarding supply chains, become all the more prescient by the day. As was discussed across many meals and meetings in the subsequent days, despite how busy the order books may be, the industry's resilience is being tested once again.

There were some words of warning from these esteemed panellists that we do not forget the lessons of the past. As was mentioned at the time, nobody expected to be discussing Karl Marx at a superyacht industry event…but as Leonida quoted the eponymous German political theorist and philosopher, "when history repeats itself for the first time, it is a tragedy for the second time. It is a farce" the implication was clear: Let us not get too carried away with the reports of a booming industry, we may be seeing some of the danger signs once again.

John Leonida 

In a sentiment that Perrone da Zara echoed, Leonida surmised that yachting is "No longer in our DNA" With Perrone da Zara continuing, "Unfortunately, we have a problem that cannot be resolved quickly. We need the next generation of people with passion because this is not like the car industry. Somebody needs to love the marble that makes up the tabletop, the wood that makes the furniture. An air conditioning unit may not sound like something that is sexy, but if it's done creatively, it will last a long time, run silently and ultimately make the owner very happy."

Perrone da Zara's analogy about the importance of the air conditioning unit raised a vital point; are we forgetting the nature of the yacht's purpose? And who are we trying to please? As Hickling said, "Superyachting is not boating; privacy, security and comfort. - that's what you get from a Superyacht. But it's not a boat, and we have to stop thinking of it as a boat and understand the real mission."

 Ken Hickling

Refocusing on the owner, and the specific experience for the end-user, was a common theme, and an inextricable part of that experience is the crew. As the conduit between the superyacht and the owner, Perrone da Zara implores us to give them the best possible vessel-specific training. "We deliver these dreams that have been assembled with intelligent skill, with love. And we put them in the hands of a bunch of passionate people, but that cause damages without knowing it because nobody taught them the specific skills the vessel needs."

 Looking across the maritime sector more broadly, Jacotine identified a potential call to action. "Maersk made a very interesting statement, and originally they committed to be carbon neutral by 2050, and their new commitment is to be carbon neutral ASAP. And they backed that up by saying that shipping is not hard to abate industry. The technology is there. We just need to get going and do it."

Jacotine further reinforced the point, imploring the superyacht sector to be more forward-thinking. "At the moment, we are reactionary, and I don't think that that serves the future of our industry. And I'd like to challenge the industry to do more because I think it is. It is essential to the sustainability of the superyacht industry that we start getting to grips with the challenges and coming up with solutions, and they are out there."

As the discussion expanded across the forum, Ico Vergouwe,  head of refit sales at Feadship Refit & Services, raised the valuable point, of who tells the owner to change? - "Who will advise on reduced performances to become greener? Who will tell an owner to reduce the maximum speed, to reduce the range if it's not required? Are we willing to instruct the owner to reduce the air conditioning, for instance, because it's always freezing cold on these bloody boats!" 

Ico Vergouwe

A shortlist was then drawn that formed the basis of the following days' workshops in a unique format that let the attendees guide the conversation. In the coming days, SuperyachtNews will further analyse the conclusions and discussions from the Superyacht Forum Live – Captain Edition. Likewise, the full YARE 2021 edition of The Superyacht Forum Live film will follow, continuing our live series on the road to Amsterdam.

All of our panellists and the majority of attendees at YARE will be at The Superyacht Forum, taking place in Amsterdam from 15-17 November. The theme of this year's event centres on defining the building blocks for a more stable, sustainable and robust market by 2030. To be part of this important dialogue, become an Executive Member of The Superyacht Group  Community by clicking here.

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TSF Live - Captains Edition panel highlights pressing issues

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