Yachting News » Events » Shining a Light on the Captains and Crew

Shining a Light on the Captains and Crew


When it comes to luxury chartering, it’s what’s on the outside and the inside that counts.

This year’s Newport Charter Yacht Show Crew Competitions cast a spotlight on the teams of professionals responsible for making magic aboard the show’s lineup of world-class yachts available for charter in New England. 

A series of contests, sponsored by DYT Yacht Transport/Sevenstar Yacht Transport and Private Yacht Vacations (a publication of AIM Media Group), were organized by Winnie DeCoster, from the Captain’s Concierge, who put the crews’ hospitality skills to the test throughout the four days (June 23-26) of the industry show.

“The skills, personality and energy of each crew member onboard a charter yacht puts an extra shine on the experience for guests,” said DeCoster. “These competitions are important for the attending brokers, because it allows them to evaluate the crew onboard the charter yachts, and also for the crew, as it is an opportunity for them to be recognized for their many talents.”

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*Chef Esther Rupenovic in the galley of the 151-foot motor yacht Katya where she prepared her winning "Best Charter Yacht" dish of smoked mussels and clams, pickled beets, horseradish and soba noodles during the 2014 Newport Charter Yacht Show. (Photo Credit Billy Black)

DeCoster  added that the five crew challenges were spread throughout the week, starting with seven chefs onboard participating yachts going whisk-to-whisk for the title of Best Charter Yacht Chef. Using a mystery basket filled with local ingredients, and abiding by a specific diet request, each competitor created an exquisite entrée dish that was judged by a panel of culinary experts.   

Chef Esther Rupenovic (Tasmania, Australia) of the 151-foot motor yacht Katya took first place with her “heart healthy” plate of smoked mussels and clams, pickled beets, horseradish and soba noodles. “I’ve only been the chef onboard Katya for three weeks, so this was a great way to start,” said Rupenovic, who was in the police force for eight years before receiving her culinary training in New Zealand at the Auckland Culinary School. “My passion is cooking, and I had friends that were working in yachting, so I decided to join them.  I have been on this career path for two and a half years now. I really love reading what top chefs around the world are doing and how they are plating food. The entrée that I made for this contest was a modern-style take on a simple dish.”

For the Healthy Beverage and Sunset Canapé Challenges, show attendees marked their favorites on ballots that were tallied to determine a winner. Chef Mallory Patterson (Conklin, Mich.) of the 54-foot sailing vessel Contingency knocked it out of the park, winning both contests.

“I have been working as a chef for the past eight years and was running two restaurants and a catering company before I decided to transition into the yachting industry a year ago,” said Patterson. “I love it, because I now am able to do all of my favorite things: cook, travel and sail.”

TheHealthy Beverage Challenge called for participants to make a drink that was both tasty and nutritious, and Patterson wowed guests with a peach, coconut and mint tea swirl, garnished with berry puree. For the Sunset Canapé Challenge, her unique spin on the bite-size snack consisted of a sea scallop seared in grapefruit and pineapple infused oil. It was then topped with champagne steamed lobster.

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*From left: Tablescaping’s “Professional Judges Award” went to Elaine Cameron, Mallory Mcateer and Milrie Swanepoel of Chevy Toy and the “People’s Choice Award” went to Sophie Leach of Grand Barossa (Photo Credit Billy Black)

On the other end of the skill spectrum, the Tablescaping Challenge gave crew (working individually or as a team) the opportunity to show off their decorating abilities on the dining tables of their respective yachts. The tablescape that took home the Professional Judges Award was designed by crewmembers Mallory Mcateer (Cork, Ireland), Elaine Cameron (Sheffield, UK) and Milrie Swanepoel (Cape Town, Africa) of the 142-foot motor vessel Chevy Toy. 

The People’s Choice Award for the contest went to Sophie Leach (Perth, Australia), the Chief Stew of the 100-foot motor vessel Grand Barossa. 

“Grand Barossa and the Australian vineyard of Chateau Tanunda are under the same ownership,” said Leach, adding that the yacht was acquired in September and did some trial runs in South Florida with wine tastings onboard. “It’s a wine boat, so I decided to stick with that very theme for the table and accented it with an array of grapes and dried grape leaves, a cheese platter and gourmet chocolate molded into miniature wine bottles and openers.”

When asked her thoughts on the importance of the crew to a charter vacation, Leach said, “When guests come onboard for a charter, many are planning to have the time of their life, and a good team dynamic onboard can greatly affect that experience. The relationship between the captain and crew really shines through the rest of the boat.”

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*From left: Show attendees watch as 11 captains compete in the Bullseye Challenge. Captain Chris Darby of the 54-foot sailing vessel Contingency claims the winning prize of a drone from a seaHEX representative. (Photo Credit Billy Black)

Because of this, the final event featured the captains in a Bullseye Challenge sponsored by CD Consultants and seaHEX. They were tasked with landing a remote control drone in the center of a 14-inch target board. Contingency took home its third win with Captain Chris Darby beating out ten other captains to take home the grand prize of a seaHEX Phantom sUAV drone.

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(Photo Credit: Billy Black)

For more information and results from the Crew Competitions, visit http://www.newportchartershow.com/newport-charter-yacht-show/newport-charter-yacht-culinary.htm  


The Newport Charter Yacht Show is one of only six charter-focused shows in the world and invites industry professionals to explore the many channels of luxury chartering. The four-day show displays a selection of exquisitely appointed sailing and motoryachts –ranging in size from 80 feet up to the superyacht length of 150 to 225+ feet – dockside at the Newport Yachting Center in historic downtown Newport, R.I.

For more information on the Newport Charter Yacht Show, visit http://www.newportchartershow..com/ or contact Nancy Piffard, Newport Exhibition Group Show Director, +1 (401) 846-1115 x212"Like" Newport Charter Yacht Show on Facebook and "Follow" on Twitter


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