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Little compares to the incredible sense of achievement from yacht ownership, but it must be remembered that following a successful newbuild, an acquisition or perhaps a refit, running a yacht can undoubtedly be a complex process. With multiple considerations for implementing safety and maintenance systems, insurance and tax, regulatory compliance not to mention crew and human resources, this can create a veritable minefield of decisions and responsibility. Therefore appointing a specialist yacht management team pays huge dividends for yacht owners and where the experts in their field can truly prove their worth.
Building a new yacht or refitting an existing model is a long and complex process, where extensive knowledge and experience are needed ensure a smooth journey. A yacht management company appointed to carry out supervision of this process should have excellent and established relationships with a host of global luxury yacht builders plus yards, designers and naval architects. Working alongside a senior project manager, who becomes a dedicated point of contact from inception to launch, each phase of construction will be managed, monitoring technical and financial performance, arranging surveys, classification, flag and technical regulatory paperwork, they will eventually launch and deliver the yacht itself. For this to be an enjoyable, exciting and stress-free process that is well-controlled and managed, engaging the services of a yacht management company will reap rewards. Once delivery is made and ownership taken, this is when the intricate – yet fun – journey really starts.
Outlining the fundamental parameters to consider, Christopher Hilfer from the yacht management division at Ocean Independence recommends, “Each yacht is unique and has its own specific requirements, therefore management needs to be tailored to match this” he states. “It is important that an owner is not paying for services that are superfluous, or indeed losing out on a critical provision to operational success. This is where a knowledgeable and cohesive team will identify and implement an effective strategy”.
Once ownership is taken, a bespoke solution tailored to individual requirements will safeguard the owner’s interests whilst at the same time supporting yacht captains, which means management requirements are widespread. From setting up an ownership structure for a new yacht and all future aspects of day-to-day operation, to overseeing luxury yacht builders at a shipyard whilst tendering for a yacht refit and negotiating crew contracts, the role of a yacht management company is diverse and indispensable. They should be efficient, meticulous and display first-class levels of proficiency so that an owner feels their yacht is in the safest hands possible. With the ultimate goal to provide comprehensive and full management services, this in turn will relieve an owner of any stress, enabling them to enjoy their yachting experience to the fullest. Ensuring that the owner’s investment is protected and looked after will equally enable both captain and crew to focus on the provision of exemplary service without concern.
From an owners’ perspective, when engaging the services of a yacht management company, it is important to choose wisely and perform a deep dive into the solid experience, industry contacts and overall qualifications on offer. The chosen company should provide a comprehensive, end-to-end service to deliver a smooth and enjoyable experience of yacht ownership. Ideally, they should have a global presence with proven team expertise, working alongside well-established third-party relationships with luxury yacht builders, lawyers and tax specialists, whilst the team provides 24-hour shoreside support, 365 days per year.
Certain criteria are essential, for instance will a dedicated and qualified yacht manager be appointed to take care of the yacht, and are they supported by a team of experts? Can they be available on a continuous basis and able to coordinate all activities relating to the yacht to ensure ongoing and effective operations are carried out on a long-term basis. Do they have ongoing relationships with luxury yacht builders, shipyards and design teams? When representing an owner, the advice provided by a yacht management company needs to be clear and practical, including full reporting on all developments with complete transparency.
As mentioned, support is vital for the captain, so a yacht management team will assist with crew recruitment, whilst defining the onboard duties and standards. An owner needs to be confident that a yacht manager is there to guide and assist their captain in all daily actions and, where appropriate, to share responsibility. Crew need to be fully certified according to required standards and these certifications need to be constantly monitored.
When entrusting a yacht manager with active control, budget is naturally a primary aspect. An owner should ask if the manager will look to optimize the yacht’s budget by monitoring expenses, securing the best prices and bringing a benefit through industry connections with all major manufacturers. Moreover, can the yacht management company deliver contractual experience with a set of aligned corporate service providers, insurance companies, officials and authorities in order to ensure that the client always benefits?
All yachts, private or commercial, have to comply with a set of rules and regulations set by different organisations, ports and flag states. It is down to the appointed yacht management company to ensure that all protocols applicable are adhered to, for example ISM, ISPS, MLC. In addition, is the company certified by the flag states that control more than 90% of the worldwide yachting fleet and hold associated Documents of Compliance? This would mean that any new yacht joining the fleet could be certified instantly, which is an ideal situation to give peace of mind to yacht buyers when looking to choose their service providers. The office undergoes an annual audit by maritime administrators to check that safety and security documentation is up to date and these regulatory updates need to be integrated into documentation supplied to the fleet. Equally yacht owners should seek out a company with a DPA (Designated Person Ashore) and a CSO (Company Security Officer), who should hold extensive maritime qualifications with the firm backing of a multi-disciplinary team, as well as the support of a crisis management team in the event of any unforeseen incidents. Summing up, Christopher Hilfer is clear in his advice, “A yacht manager will offer peace of mind, making sure that besides a very competent crew on board, there is an additional team of highly qualified professionals supporting both client and yacht” he says. “An ‘a la carte’ approach allows an owner to choose from the extensive array of services that fit their needs. When choosing a management company key points to look for are certainly longevity in the industry, qualifications within the team, plus seafaring experience, together with a range of services bolstered by back-office support. In terms of costs, these will be scaled, tailored and of course entirely transparent to ensure an owner knows exactly what he will be receiving”. Wise words from an experienced professional that will act as an excellent guide for superyacht owners.
– MP –