On 20th October at the Yacht Club Marina di Loano, the Italian Yacht Masters (IYM) held their 4th annual meeting with over 220 captains, sponsors and industry professionals in attendance.
IYM is an association for Italian yacht captains, set up to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and skills in the rapidly evolving superyacht industry, and to improve employment opportunities for its members.
A core part of their mission is to promote the qualities which define Italy as a nation, including creativity, intuition, family and professionalism, qualities which have also shaped Italy's long tradition of world class shipbuilding.
However, when it comes to Italian crew, despite excellent training and preparation in specialist naval colleges, many have struggled to find similar success outside of Italy.
The main presentations therefore focused on the specific barriers faced by Italian captains and what needs to change in order to develop a greater presence on the world stage.
Opening the meeting, President of Italian Yacht Masters, Captain Gino Battaglia, congratulated the many individual achievements of IYM members over the course of the year, as well as the work of the association as a whole in supporting the government sponsored Italian Cadet Program.
The success of this program depends to a large extent on cadets being able to secure positions on board superyachts to gain the required sea time, and members of IYM have played an active role supporting this effort. However, there are only so many Italian captains, and it highlights the need for Italian seafarers at every level to engage with the wider yachting community in order to improve their chances of getting hired.
The same applies to Italian captains, a rare spectacle outside of Italy or Italian employment, but why?
Speaker Rupert Nelson, Director of Burgess, said, "The market is buoyant. Charter is up, sales are up and, despite the political landscape, the superyacht industry is a safe haven. However, if you want to be in the minds of brokers or crew placement agents who are looking to match the right captain with a particular client, it's important to network and develop these relationships in advance. You need to be seen."
Also presenting, David Legrand of Fraser Yachts, Monaco, agreed saying,"The structure of the superyacht industry hasn't changed; the style has changed. You need to attend the international boat shows, we don't see you enough on the international circuit. Get out of Italy. Think internationally!"
IYM clearly recognizes this lack of participation and is keen to turn things around by encouraging its members to do just that.
Experience v Personality
Having also seen younger, less experienced captains chosen over his many years in command, one Italian captain in the audience questioned the value of personality over experience.
It's a question that resonated with those present but, as Rupert Nelson explained, in a high end service industry, choosing the right captain for the job will always be about more than the tickets he or she holds.
"Assuming all candidates are adequately qualified to do the job, your seafaring skills are considered long after the rest, such as personality, attitude and the fit. You need to sell yourself; promote yourself. It's important to be known, to present differently at interview and to come more prepared." said Rupert.
Antoine Althaus of Fraser Yachts closed the meeting with a wise and upbeat reminder for all of us on this 'fantastic human adventure' saying, "Remember, we are the lucky ones. Money is money but don't make the mistake of thinking you are like the owner. Say thank you every day!"