The Middle Men


Much maligned from all sides by Captains, crew or owners as incompetent, ignorant of yachting ways or just downright interfering and an unnecessary additional layer of bureaucracy, you used to need a tough skin to make it as ayacht manager. But things have changed. The industry has grown up and grown a whole lot more complicated to manage and now the yacht managers have come into their own.

So, as a sector what is going on in yacht management? What has changed? And what do yacht managers predict for their own future? What will they be confronting in the years to come? ONBOARD, checks in with the experts to find out.

Oscar Brown FCCA is a Director at Baker Tilly on the Isle of Man. He believes that as the overall size of yachts has increased more clients have realised that it is more cost effective and safer to have a centralised management function for the vessel. “It’s something that has always been necessary for the larger pleasure yachts and commercial vessels but is now seen for yachts of all sizes”, says Brown. He adds, “Clients want to enjoy their yachts whilst at the same time having a level of control; management companies provide this. They allow owners freedom to know the yachts operation is being looked after and the vessel is ready for them when they arrive, with hopefully no issues”.

Alessandro Macri CEO of Main Raise Yachting adds, Owners and Captains have many resources available to them today, that were not available in the past, but with yachts getting larger every year and more regulations correctly being brought in to the industry, the need for a yacht manager has become more vital”.

While yacht managers are not directly subject to new rules and regulations, the administration and documentation required of a yacht in areas such as crewing, VAT and commercial operations means the job has become more time-consuming and demanding. These are the factors that determine how yacht management changes says Oscar; “The large compliance distinction between pleasure and commercial effect the operation of each type of yacht. A good yacht manager will always try to stay abreast of regulation to ensure they are offering value and compliance management for the owner”.

Other factors that are changing and increasing yacht management workloads include the introduction of the MLC 2006 and the YET Scheme explains Kupfer. “With onboard safety and environmental protection remaining key priorities, we fully expect to see the continued introduction of new regulations and amendments to existing regulations for the foreseeable future”.

To re-cap quickly, MLC 2006 introduced the Large Yacht Code LY3 which has been brought up to date to include the latest technology in radio communication equipment and requirements for masts and rigging for sailing yachts. There is also new guidance concerning crew accommodation, safety, SOLAS updates, MARPOL dates, among other guidance updates. The YET (Yachts Engaged in Trade) Scheme The Yacht Engaged in Trade (YET) Scheme has been adopted by the Marshall Islands and more recently the Cayman Islands. It explains the processes to be followed for a private yacht to obtain a YET Compliance Certificate and a Temporary Certificate of Registry for YET (Temporary COR YET) authorizing the yacht to charter for up to 84 days per calendar year in EU waters (currently limited to France and Monaco). This Guideline applies to Private registered yachts of 24m or over that seek to charter in EU waters, provided that they comply fully with the requirements for commercial yachts of the relevant Large Yacht Codes (LYC), as well as all other applicable national and international requirements.

Compliance with the LYC requires all YETs to be fully commercially compliant at all times, whether engaged in trade or not. This also includes full commercial compliance with all applicable international conventions. This also means that the yacht cannot carry more than 12 passengers while engaged in trade.

Brown at Baker Tilly sees a brighter future for yacht managers where clients are becoming more sophisticated in knowing what to expect from their yacht managers He says, “I feel those who are quick to adapt and offer a transparent and value service are well positioned for change. One thing we do know is that they will change, things always do in the yachting world”. Kupfer adds, ‘“Port States will gradually enforce that crew members living and working in the EU will have to pay social charges and taxes. This is a situation which crew members, managers and owners will need to adapt to”. It’s not hard to see how the mountain of rubber stamping adds up. Brown is a glass half full kind of guy and he reckons the evolution of yacht management is moving in a good direction; with more real time reporting that will allow clients a much more effective view of the operation of their yachts. “The increased use of technology in all areas of communication will mean that clients can be involved in a way that was previously very hard to put into place. This is especially true of the modern worldwide client who has a vessel that can cross oceans and has to be ready at a moment’s notice for his or her arrival. Their access to information will be push rather than pull, they can see what is happening anywhere, anytime”.

Nuno do Ó Caeiro, Founder of Earth & Sea Elite Management mentions “we’ve seen an increasing demand from our clients to have fail-safe, practical ways to record and trace department checks and maintenance to use for auditing, we predict huge continuous developments in Superyacht Management software”.


Franc Jansen, Founder and Director of JMS Yacht Management and Crew Services has 30 yacht years industry experience and over those years has managed 150 yachts. He set up JMS three years ago and has offices in Brighton and Monaco. The greatest change that Jansen has witnessed in recent years is efficiency: “I’ve been focusing on efficiency to make sure information is held in one place and then shared with the right people so that reduces the reporting” JMS claims to be one of the few management companies with new accounting programmes and software that allows the captain and owner to have access to the yachts bank account. “So everything is accountable and in one place. That saves everyone a lot of work. In the past, the management company would be sent a bill, for example. Let’s say the bill wasn’t paid, so the supplier calls the Captain. Then the Captain calls the yacht manager and by that point you are already a few days down the line. Now the Captain can look and see it has been paid. My motto is you have everything in one place and one person does one thing only the one time”. Say Jansen receives an updated certificate or document. He sends them into to the shared folder and all the Chief Mate needs to do is remove the old certificate and replace the new one. “So I’ve already done the work for him. That’s what we are really focusing on, organising the administration so that the crew can do their jobs and get on with running the boat”.

In terms of the future, Franc foresees that flag states will place a greater focus on ISM. “As the ISM manager, you have a legal responsibility as well as a safety responsibility. If you have one bad boat (ie; non compliant) under your management, it will effect the rest of the fleet who might also not be able to cruise. If one of your boats fails Port State Control, that will be a black mark against the management company and all your fleet will be affected”.

For Franc the hardest part of yacht management is getting the crew right. “There are so many people involved”, he explains, “and to create the right atmosphere on board with good stability is very complex. Crew longevity is related to the ‘touchy-feely’ side of the Captain. You can have a highly technically minded Captain, but you need the human touch too”, JMS are currently working with Peter Vogel at Luxury Hospitality, profiling, mentoring and monitoring crew. “So far it looks very interesting”, says Jansen.

“I think yacht managers have a hard approach to interior crew that needs to change. Interior crew have the interface with the owners, so they are very important and the knowledge that they gain from that in terms should belong to the boat”.

Nuno at Earth & Sea concludes “We would definitely say that Yacht Management is a growing feature of the Superyacht industry. Ultimately, yacht owners crave value. The more pressure and increased workload that there is placed on Captain–led, sole management of a vessel (due to the ever growing size of yachts and technical advancements), the more risk there is of important regulatory and safety changes being over looked and therefore being a waste of owners time and costs. By assembling the perfect team, a marriage between Captain and the right Yacht Management Company, owners can maintain financial worth and help to create a more stress free environment”.

So now at last the tables have turned. Captains are more than happy to hand over the whole goddam caboodle over to these professionals and get on with sailing their boats.

Efficiency at sea

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