Happy crew make for happy cruising – Antibes Yacht Show seminar reveals

A packed seminar on Managing Relationships in the Superyacht Industry,  held at April’s Antibes Yacht Show 2013, revealed interesting ways of motivating superyacht captains and crew – which didn’t merely involve ‘throwing money at the problem’, a popular industry solution.

The seminar on April 18th was sponsored by The Crew Report, chaired by Don Hoyt Gorman of The Superyacht Group and featured guest speakers including Alison Rentoul (The Crew Coach), Fabien Roche (International Yacht Collection) and Rubert Connor (Luxury Yacht Group).

Alison Rentoul, managing director at The Crew Coach training academy, said, “If you don’t have great crew, you don’t have yachting – and it all comes down to communication at the end of the day. If the only tool you have in your toolbox is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail!

“You can bring in management techniques from the outside world to use in a superyacht setting, but you need to understand the industry fully to be able to apply them properly which is where organisations like mine come into play.”

Alison advocates collaboration rather than everyone trying to push their own agenda, alongside working to build trusting and open relationships to benefit the wider aim, namely: the owner’s best interests.

Rupert Connor from the Luxury Yacht Group agrees. He said, “I’ve heard life onboard described as a ‘psychologically abusive environment’. As an industry we need to address the human needs of captains and crew, maintaining mutually beneficial relationships between captains, yacht managers and owners so that what happens aboard is what the owner understands to be happening aboard.”

Fabien Roche, International Yacht Collection, stressed the importance of training and of rising through the ranks to the position of captain slowly, rather than carrying out minimal time in each post simply in order to move on.

He said, “The more time people spend climbing the ranks, the better their people skills become. Using minimum sea time before moving up a rank can produce less experienced crew.”

Rupert Connor agrees. He said, “Captains are generally very charismatic people, and have to grow from being great entertainers with superb concierge skills, to approachable people managers.”

Rupert described how millionaire owners often throw money at communication problems aboard their superyachts, saying, “It’s added a ton of corruption and muddled the industry in a horrible way.” When there are communication problems aboard, team building activities designed to build trust and mutual respect, can be far more beneficial than a hard cash bonus.

Sarah Diggle-Whitlock, owner of Big Fish Adventures in Antibes, says, “In addition to straightforward brilliant days out for crew, we are often approached by troubled captains  and heads of department who want a more structured team day. This can involve team building and taking crew away from yachting and back to normal life, to address issues among their crew.

“An adrenaline-fuelled day away from the boat –  spa days, canyoning, sky diving or white-water rafting – can really help break down barriers and diffuse tensions to help captains begin the process of getting to the root of any problems.”

To investigate training or away days for superyacht captains and crew, browse Yachtingpages.com for training and related organisations like Big Fish Adventure Antibes; Warsash Superyacht Academy;  OMT Maritime Training; The Crew Coach; and Bluewater Crew.

For further information about Yachting Pages, visit www.yachting-pages.com.

For further information about Big Fish Adventures Antibes, visit: www.bigfishadventures.co.uk

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