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22 Mar 2016

The standard bearer

Guest author

In the issue 167 of The Superyacht Report on refitting 30-45m production yachts, Mr. Franco Cattai of Amico Loano Shipyard mentions how owners of yachts in this size-range are split into two categories: those who have had yachts of this size for many years and those who are first-time buyers. The latter often purchase a yacht as a status symbol rather than being passionate about yachting.

Mr. Cattai goes further and states that, “it is clear that the shipyard's task has a psychological aspect because we have to encourage the owner to invest in the fundamentals and basic maintenance that are often sidelined in favour of aesthetic/decorative requests...”

I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Cattai. However, I would like to add that it should be the entire yachting industry’s task to provide not only the encouragement he mentions, but also the adequate support and education, so a buyer/owner can assure their wants and needs are most suited to their budget, both short- and long-term.

A yacht's expenses often exceed those of small businesses. Chartering, if anything, only aids in reducing such costs.  If a buyer is not properly aware of this, then the lack of information is frequently the catalyst for a slippery slope to a bad yachting experience.

We’ve all heard stories of bad experiences - some quite horrifying - where crew are to blame, where a broker ‘sells’ the yachting experience at a fraction of its actual cost, or the yacht management company abuses its power and position. And while I am sure there will always be such stories, I think it would be nice to be able to reduce their number.

Sunseeker 155 SportYacht The Sunseeker 155 Sport Yacht. The very best production yards have already implemented the standards of their custom counterparts.

Referring back to Mr. Cattai’s comments, it is my opinion that when it comes time for a yacht to head back to shipyards like his, it would be far easier for we as an industry to apply further risk management principles; in essence, an industry-wide goal of self-improvement and self-regulation.

Among other things, productivity and quality would be influenced. The enhancement of safety standards would come more naturally as a bi-product of these processes. Cost effectiveness would increase with an ultimately savings to the owner, probably also better margins for all those in the industry.

 The Oyster 118.

Part of this improvement, of course, is the [relatively] new application of the ISM code and similar laws and regulations. However, the problem with all new regulations is the animosity towards them. People don’t like change. And the regulations don’t always apply to everyone.The ISM Code for example, does not apply to the size range of yachts Mr. Cattai talks about. But if we look at the influence the code has had on those yachts required to follow it, it has been a positive one.

The production hall at Nautor Swan.

The down-side is that the code has also been considered rather tedious to implement, adding a sometimes unnecessary workload to all considering its commercial application. But despite the tedium, “the ISM code is nothing more than the application of common sense”, a valuable sentence I once found in the notes of an ISM/DPA course I completed a while back.

I think it is agreeable that the code has increased not only the safety bar, but the level of professionalism across the large[r] yacht board. If we do nothing more than apply that ‘common sense’ notion and some risk management principles for smaller yachts, we will ‘up’ the professionalism ante and, most importantly, safety will be enhanced.

If the above can be achieved, yachting dreams, whether ownership- or career-oriented will be both positive and fulfilling and the passion that Mr. Cattai talks about will grow.


Profile links

Amico & Co s.r.l

Sunseeker International Ltd

Oyster Marine Ltd

Nautor Holding Srl

Ruya Marine Support

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