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Captains' thoughts on sexual abuse in yachting

We hear what captains have to say following a series of articles highlighting sexual abuse in the yachting industry…

Over the course of 2022 SuperyachtNews has shared the stories of five victims of sexual abuse in yachting. The reason for doing this has been to encourage more women to come forward and to let other victims know that they are not alone. It has also been to drive conversation and hear what the rest of the market has to say about some of the darker corners of the industry. In every one of these stories, we have included a survey, which can be seen below. Through these surveys, stakeholders have been able to offer their thoughts and suggestions for an issue that is increasingly being brought to the forefront of the public domain. For this article, we have published just a fraction of the findings before releasing the full results in The Superyacht Operations Report. 

It should be noted that these findings are solely a result of The Superyacht Group survey, and do not necessarily represent the views of all the thousands of superyacht captains operating within the industry. With that being said, these findings do provide some indication of the kind of thought processes and opinions that are circulating amongst those operating at the very top of the yachts hierarchy. 

Almost all of the people who were interviewed for this series of articles confirmed that when it comes to incidents of sexual misconduct onboard ‘the buck stops with the captain’. Considering captains are usually the ones who hold the key to the bridge between on-shore and off-shore, their views on sensitive issues are of particular importance. According to our survey, 33.3 per cent of captains believe that sexual abuse is not more prevalent in yachting than it is in other industries. What's more, is that 21 per cent of captains believe that we should be looking to management companies if we want real tangible change.

Below are a collection of responses we received from captains when we asked - Who should we be looking to for real tangible change when it comes to protecting minorities in the superyacht industry?

“Just be aware and share should be enough. The problem is the false ones and a gaggle of crew will get together and exaggerate a tiny thing into a big problem that is not really there”

 

“Yachting will never change.”

 

“Education in respecting women is needed in all professions, including yachting.”

 

“All individuals, the crew are usually the first to know, captains, management and owners are responsible for safety in all aspects.”

 

“Management companies following the codes and rules to protect crew members. Training and education is the key.”

What is perhaps slightly worrying, is the fact that so many of the respondents believe that there isn't enough support from industry bodies who are responsible for protecting victims. As shown in the graph, 46 per cent of captains rated industry bodies below average with a score of 2/5 for usefulness. Not a single captain thought that industry bodies were 100% useful, although that could be because a portion of captains don’t believe it is a prevalent issue in the industry.

Perhaps if more captains were able to recognise that yachting is an industry that provides an environment where sexual abuse and professional misconduct can occur without consequence, they may have a different view on the necessary solutions. Of all the Chief Stewardesses that answered our survey, 90 per cent of them either agreed or strongly agreed that sexual abuse is more prevalent in yachting compared to other industries. This almost completely juxtaposes the captain's responses - 61 per cent are either neutral or disagreed with the same statement.

The aim of this article, as with the ones before it, has not been to simply tell one side of the story, but to present the findings of our research and conversations with key members of the industry. While some may disagree, this is a big issue in the yachting world that many people want to have a conversation about. The Superyacht Group is a company with a long and rich history of providing reportage and insight that acts as a catalyst for much-needed conversations in yachting. To find out more be sure to sign up as an Essential member in order to gain access to our full library of Superyacht Reports

 

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