It's every person's dream to turn their hobby into a job and Angus Gilmour is no exception. Having spent much of his youth out on the water, he subsequently worked on board a number of high profile superyachts before landing the job of project manager at Superyacht Tenders & Toys. Whether it's custom tenders or outfitting a yacht’s entire garage, he is responsible for seeing projects through from start to finish.
Here Angus discusses his day to day role, what’s most in demand from owners, and what's trending on the horizon.
How did you first get involved in yachting?
I was in my first year of study at Bristol University and my sister and her now husband were away working on MY Utopia. I wasn’t really enjoying my studies and they suggested maybe I give yachting a go. I decided to leave my course and head down to the South of France instead. After a couple months of dock walking I landed my first job on 90m MY Lauren L.
You worked as a deckhand on several high-profile yachts before joining SYTT, what were some of the highlights working on board?
There are so many to choose from as it was an action packed four years, but the first was my time down in Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Every day was a new beach with the guests, snorkelling with dolphins and turtles and setting up BBQs on remote islands. The second has to be doing Cannes Film Festival for two years running with my last yacht. It was the busiest 10 days of the year but the most fun and the owner always had a great guest list.
What prompted your move ashore?
Simply family! I am lucky enough to now have three nieces and one nephew, and when my first two nieces were born I wanted to spend more time in the UK with the family.
When did you join SYTT and how did it come about?
My sister owns the PR company Ocean PR in the UK, and once I had moved ashore she suggested I get in touch with SYTT. I am aware that this can sometimes be a tricky transition but I was lucky in that the office was around the corner from where I grew up and the whole team were very welcoming.
What does your role as Project Manager entail?
I work mainly in the tender department, being involved in all facets of the sale/purchase, build and after sales service that SYTT offer. This includes detailed project management of the build process itself and ensures that our clients have one point of contact from start to finish.
I also apply myself to the toy and deck department when a client is requesting a full package, helping to make the full outfitting service as smooth as possible. It certainly keeps me on my toes and ensures that I have great product knowledge across the board.
Does SYTT supply only certain brands of tenders and toys or do you source whatever a client wants?
SYTT partners with certain high-quality brands that we would certainly recommend to our clients, and we’re always happy to give our opinion on the matter. However, we do make sure that client is aware of what is on the market and we will always recommend the best product for their requirements.
The team at SYTT is known for their first-hand knowledge and hands on approach, so how important is it to have worked as crew when it comes to understanding the possibilities and limitations of a client’s wishes?
First-hand yachting experience comes into play every single day in what we do. Knowing how a crew might operate, what they might need, how and where things might fit on board and how guests generally behave is all key to being able to supply the correct equipment and help integrate it onto the yacht. This allows us to look at a GA or some measurements and visualise how something might work and whether it is suitable for that particular client.
SYTT also supplies custom tenders – does this typically involve technical or mechanical adjustments or is it mainly aesthetics?
The project management of a custom tender involves all aspects of the tender from start to finish. We offer advice to both the client and the manufacturer from the overall aesthetics of the tender to the layout of the engine bay, and even to the teak plan. All details are looked into and discussed with either the client or the manufacturer to ensure we get the best possible product at the end.
Is it a growing trend?
I do think this is a growing trend. Obviously custom tenders have been around for a very long time, however these days, when it comes to yachting, even standard production tenders need some sort of customisation. Whether this be in relation to garage fit, lifting, size etc, or whether it is in regard to the look or functionality of the tender, every client’s requirements are different and therefore every tender is custom in some respect.
Does customisation extend to yacht toys and what’s a typical request?
Of course! I think custom yacht slides with logos have been the most popular in the past, but since we have started doing custom paint and upholstery for jet skis, these have been flying off the shelves. Having the jet skis match the yacht’s colour scheme along with custom SeaBobs and a custom inflatable dock or seapool makes for an awesome swim platform set up.
Is any customisation usually conducted by the manufacturers and are there limitations in terms of their own brands?
This really depends on the brand. The likes of FunAir can do some amazing custom projects which are designed in house, along with some SYTT input, and come ready to go to the client. However, when it comes to jet ski customisation, this is all done with us giving us total control.
There are certainly some limitations over certain brands, however this is where we step in and can either offer a custom solution for the requested tender or product, or equally we may be able to recommend an alternative that is better suited to the client’s requirements.
To what extent do you have to think outside the box to fulfil clients’ wishes?
With the level of customisation we deal with on a regular basis, there is certainly an element of this. When you are starting a project I think the approach of ‘no idea is a bad idea’ is a good way to go about it. You can then work back from there. Having said that, all of this thinking is based on experience and prior knowledge, so I would say that it is not necessarily outside the box, it’s just a very large box!
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your job so far?
What’s the next big trend?
With everyone (quite rightly) being more aware of the environment, it has be electric tenders and toys. We are certainly excited to see what manufacturers are developing and are looking to be at the forefront of the latest innovation when it comes to yacht equipment.
What is your all-time favourite yacht toy?
That’s a really tricky question as my favourite toy would be a tender. The Super Air Nautique G23 Paragon is something that would be top of the list if I were an owner. I’m a wannabe wakesurfer and the wake you get off this is just awesome. I could spend all day in one! But in terms of actual toys, I think the Lift e-foil is probably my favourite thing out there.
How is COVID-19 currently impacting business and how has the team adapted on a day-to-day basis?
We have been fortunate at SYTT that it has not greatly affected us. Six weeks prior to lockdown I made a move to central London to work remotely and therefore I was well set up for isolation. However, now the whole team are working from the safety of their homes with just my colleague Phil going i to the office to ensure that we can keep the warehouse going. I think, much like everyone else, we have become experts in Zoom calls, and WhatsApp chats provide a constant commentary.
What are your thoughts on when the industry will get back to normal and do you foresee any changes in how you operate in future?
Unfortunately, it looks less and less likely that this summer season will see normal service resumed. Although people are itching to get back on board their boats, it will obviously depend on travel restrictions and how safe people feel. I think we will possibly see some regular activity towards the end of the summer and then perhaps a busy Caribbean season.
In regard to future changes, I believe we will see a rush from the industry to go back to normal, seeing a huge spike in people travelling the world again. However I think we will then see a down trend in the amount of companies travelling for face-to-face meetings or working from offices, as pressure comes on to reduce our carbon footprint. In terms of owner activity, once we have got control of the current pandemic, I think this will be largely as it was.
If you weren’t working in the superyacht industry, what would you be doing?
I would imagine playing for the England Rugby Team, or something similar...in other words, I have no idea! I think I would have ended up in the maritime industry in one way or another; it has been a huge part of my life and I can’t imagine doing anything that doesn’t involve water.
What will you be doing 10 years from now?
I don’t like to look too far ahead but prefer smaller increments of time. It is obviously important to have goals, however I think if you focus too far ahead then you miss out on what’s in front of you.
What’s your motto?
It’s more of a quote but Mike Tyson once said: “everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face.”