What brought you into the world of sailing?
Like most careers, it was a combination of accident and fluke. I started sailing in my childhood then began my career working on commercial fishing boats. While visiting a friend he steered me into engineering, which progressed into becoming Captain. During that time, my speciality was working on yachts that did long voyages, which led me to circumnavigating the globe four times. It was a rarity at the time, so often it was just my crew and a fellow captain, Martyn Walker and the crew of the Feadship Montigne running into each other in the same locations. We would be sailing into an isolated bay and I would hear his whistling come over the radio….or he would come round the corner and see our crew salute as we had got there just before. So although it could be isolating, there was a brilliant camaraderie between our two crews. After 26 years, I came ashore and started the next chapter of my career as a sales broker.
What attracted you to YPI?
Previously I ran my own business, TWW Yachts, with two co-founders. We built a very successful business over four years, but in March 2020 it became a natural point in time to move on from that business. Lionel Richard, Head of Business Development at YPI, is a great friend of mine and introduced me to the company. YPI has a long history within yachting so I was already familiar with the brand and saw the fantastic opportunity to revitalise the sales department. We’ve been building an exceptional team and between us have the connections, network and fantastic people for an exciting future.
Over the last decade we’ve seen an increase in luxury exploration vessels and large, faster and more powerful yachts. Do you see this remaining increasingly important to clients?
Yes and no. When I first came into yachting 30m was a huge boat. The yacht SOMETHING COOL II, built by Feadship for Freddie Heinken, was rebuilt in 1972 and was the largest boat of its time. In 1993 yacht ACHIEVER was 50m and then REVERIE in 2000 was the largest superyacht built by Benetti at 1,975 gross tonnage. Today DILBAR is almost 16,000 gross tonnes. As wealth and technology has increased we’re seeing a diversity of yachts that reflect the technological advances and change in how clients want to spend their free time. What we anticipate is a growth in the sweet spot of 30m-70m yachts, with more choices that will attract both existing and new clients to yachting.
What three pieces of advice would you give to clients buying their first yacht?
- Understand the cost to run the boat
- Choose wisely
- Don’t think about buying the boat. Think about selling it.
The cliche is that the two happiest days of your life are the day you buy and the day you sell, it is maybe not the whole story as there is a whole world of enjoyment between those two events; I believe that my role is to educate my client on the whole ownership journey. It’s vital to consider every aspect that comes with the yacht; how much will it cost to run? How many people are you comfortable having around you as crew? There’s also the pedigree of the manufacture and how that can impact depreciation, and whether you’re buying this as an heirloom for your grandchildren to enjoy, or an asset to enjoy and later sell.
What elements are crucial to a successful broker transaction?
Ultimately it depends upon the reactiveness and fluidity of the chain, and the open communication between all parties. It can be a complex transaction, particularly with yachts above 70m. Understandingly our clients will have their lawyers involved from the outset, but it is critical they also understand each element of the transaction. Our connections, knowledge and decades of expertise can be critical to the negotiations and for reassurance to the client.
You’ve circumnavigated the globe four times. How has it helped shape your career?
People and team management is crucial during a round-the-world cruise. Pre 2000, broadband connections were incredibly expensive and unreliable, so you often didn’t have contact back home. To leave and come back with the same crew taught me a huge amount about building a brilliant culture, looking out for each other and what it takes to manage and successfully lead a team. You also deal with high-stress situations, pulling off the impossible. One memory I have is salmon fishing in Alaska in a small motor tender, which suddenly broke down. Without paddles, we nervously watched as Kodiak bears started to circle the tender. They managed to get within 15m before the jet ski turned up to tow us away. In another incident, during a diving session in the Galapagos islands a member of the crew caught a nosebleed, just as we were swimming with hammerhead sharks. We were hauled out just in time.
What would be your dream destination?
The ice wins every time. I’ve lived in the Mediterranean for most of my life, so the ice and landscape is completely different and so special. A trip I’d love to do next is the North-West passage. I once read an article on ’50 places to go before you die’ and I have visited 49 of them, with Rio being the last one – but I’m keeping it off the bucket list in case it makes me immortal!
If I were new to yachting, I would sail from Croatia to Venice. There’s a wonderful island feeling, with controlled weather systems and world class restaurants. Croatia became very popular during the summer and remains one of the most beautiful places to sail.