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Interview: Superyacht Scholarship Winner James Benning

James Benning profile

James Benning was the winner of the Exterior Department in the Superyacht Scholarship Competition launched earlier this year by Alison Rentoul, The Crew Coach. Just a few months on and James has already landed his first job as Deckhand onboard 55m MY Netanya 8.

From an early age, James has sailed extensively onboard two family vessels based in Torrevieja and Cartagena in Spain. Over the summer months they would cruise around Torrevieja, Ibiza and Mallorca, and also crossed the straits of Gibraltar down to to Ceuta, Morroco, usually with up to six guests and three crew.

With all this experience and a passon for the sea, it's no surprise that James beat a path to the superyacht industry, following in the footsteps of his grandfather with the ambition to become a captain. We recently caught up with James to find out more.

Starting out in the superyacht industry, which transferable skills do you think will be most relevant or useful?

As a Yachtmaster, I think the skills and knowledge I have gained over the years will be very useful. I also spent seven years at boarding school living and growing up with people of various ages and cultures, so I think being able to get along with a wide array of people will be helpful. 

In terms of practical skills, I've also had experience of provisioning, general system troubleshooting and keeping the vessel meticulously maintained, so lots of washdowns, polishing chrome and cleaning windows! I've also done itinerary and passage planning, navigation and chart reading. Over winter maintenance periods there were the decks to take care of, varnishing and sanding, engine maintenance and of course anti-fouling. 

Which courses have you already taken and do you have any other qualifications?

I've completed my STCW, Powerboat Level 2 and Personal Water Craft courses and I also have an ACCA Accountancy (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), equivalent to a Masters Degree, London School of Business and Finance, London.

What makes yachting such an appealing career?

I love being on the water. I also love to travel. I think the yachting industry will combine this perfectly.

James Benning 2

What does winning this scholarship mean for you?

I was extremely proud of myself when I heard I'd won the scholarship. As it's such a competitive industry to get into, the scholarship provides all the necessary qualifications to get the perfect head start. It really does follow The Crew Coach motto of “Gain the Edge”.

Do you keep abreast of the industry, i.e. through the media, etc? What do you find particularly interesting about it?

To be honest, since winning the scholarship I've been so focused on creating a great CV and completing the necessary courses, and now I have a job, so I've not had a chance to keep up to date with what's going on in the media!

James Benning 3Who has inspired you in your work or life?

My Grandfather was a captain and now it's my goal to be a captain in the superyacht industry.

What are you most looking forward to about working in yachting?

I am really looking forward to providing a high level of service so that the clients are always happy. I'm also looking forward to meeting new people.  

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

I'm a passionate sailor and I also enjoy jet skiing and scuba diving. I also like playing golf, fishing, photography, cooking and going to the gym, and just relaxing with friends! 

Which three objects would you take to your desert island?

Leatherman, fire starting kit, fishing rod.

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What is your motto?

I don’t really have a motto, but I do live by the quote:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

About The Superyacht Scholarship Competition:

Each of the four scholarships includes training courses, uniforms, crew accommodation (in Antibes), free travel insurance, a CV and career guidance package, a personal mentor, yachting association membership, and dedicated crew agency support in finding a position, valued at more than €2,800 each.

The scholarships were awarded in four categories: Interior, Exterior, Galley & Engineering and the winners were selected from a pool of more than 260 applicants from all around the globe. 

After the overwhelming response ths year, and the success of several winners landing jobs already, no doubt the Superyacht Scholarship will launch again later this year – keep an eye on The Crew Coach so you don’t miss out!

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