As interest in the region continues to grow, Scott Walker, a co-founder of Asia Pacific Superyachts and Managing Director of APS Singapore, gives an insight into his role and the support services available to yachts visiting South East Asia.
How did you come to work in the yachting industry?
I grew up on a dairy farm in upstate New York during the ‘60’s & '70’s and left in 1984. I attended the state university of New York at Cobleskill, finishing with a degree in agricultural engineering. I first got involved in yachting in 1983 and started doing bare boat deliveries - with a man I met at a boat show - from Camden main to Antigua. We did several of these trips and I got off on St Thomas and then sailed on to Singapore.
I sailed with this vessel for over six years from St Thomas through the lesser Antilles to Venezuela then the Panama Canal. We did the Galápagos Islands, the Marquesas, Tuamotus, and the Society Islands, Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore. Then I did a refit on our boat in a yard in Singapore and once I stepped off the yacht I started working there.
How did your role at APS Singapore materialise?
I finished the refit and started working for myself when I returned to Singapore, doing shore based engineering for visiting yachts and some local yachts. We found yachts arriving in Singapore wanted to know 'where to get and how to buy and can you please get for us’, which more or less led us right into doing our agency work.
Superyacht moored in Singapore
We began getting involved in larger yachts in the mid-nineties and our first project was a 50m motor yacht, Mosaique. As project coordinators on Mosaique we worked directly with the captain on a complete remodel of the sun deck and crew quarters along with various other jobs. We spent two years working on this project with some owner usage in between. This project launched us into the arena of the larger yacht services… and we never looked back!
After working with others as a network for procurement of supplies and handing off customers between Singapore and Phuket, we branded to Asia Pacific Superyachts as a new and separate entity. We (APS) have emerged after a decade of hard work as Singapore’s premier agency and Asia Pacific’s premier superyacht services network.
Has your client base or service changed in the past five years?
As the younger captains are now emerging on the larger vessels we are finding more and more control is being taken on by the management companies, creating the requirement for value added services as clients are becoming very conscious of costs. We are now doing cost projections for the vessel’s stay which would normally be the purser's job onboard. We are also finding that no matter what transpires the captains will not accept extra costs.
Singapore - Merlion by Andrew Tan
What attracts owners and captains to Singapore?
As the regional hub, in Singapore we have the shipyards, class societies and registry offices. We have a high level of engineering prowess to call on and we provide a tax exemption service. It’s easy to ship into and change the crew or give holiday in Singapore and there are crew training facilities as well. We also have first world healthcare.
What sets APS Singapore apart?
At APS Singapore we can offer a superior level of service to yachts due to our port knowledge and personal relationships with the port authorities. Also on tap is my experience as an engineer and my relationships with the shipyards as well as all other aspects of the services needed.
We’re on a first-name basis with all the relevant authorities and support companies and well-known and respected members of the marine industry in Singapore and Malaysia. Through our APS network we can set forth a seamless journey through South East Asia and the Pacific regions of New Zealand, Fiji and Tahiti.
What are the greatest challenges in your role?
It’s challenging at times when we're met with unrealistic cost expectations or lack of interest in understanding how we need to make things work in order to provide the best services for our clients. But we are up to the challenge and have formed good and long lasting professional and personal relationships with many of the captains and owners visiting Singapore as well as with our providers.
Singapore - Marina Bay Sands
What are the particular challenges for superyachts visiting Singapore and South East Asia?
Local, European and American investment for this kind of leisure is growing and key inhibitors for visiting yachts will mostly concern borders. By that I mean the differing immigration procedures in different countries and the laws and regulations in the countries around here. Some countries such as Malaysia and Singapore are very easy to deal with, but there are others – Indonesia and Vietnam in particular – that have some issues to consider and it takes more effort for yachts to get their cruising permits and visas.
What the captains say:
“On behalf of my owner and crew may I thank you and your team for the professional and friendly way you organized and ran our two visits to Raffles Marina. In particular I am extremely grateful for the way you coordinated the tricky formalities with the local authorities, gathered the stores requirements and took away the ‘hassle’ normally associated with these visits. Without doubt the personal interest taken by Joan, yourself and your staff is second to none – Thank you.” (Captain Paul Cook, MY ANNA)