With the Azimut Benetti Group, which hopes to sell 4 to 5 yachts in China this year, and Sunseeker International Ltd., who sold 10 yachts to China last year, there’s no shortage of luxury vessels in the country. However, as these companies expand, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find seasoned captains and crew for them.
According to Chinese laws, a boat that is longer than 55 feet needs a captain, and boats longer than 100 feet need crews. “Think of it like a floating hotel,” said Vincenzo Poerio, chief executive of Italy’s Azmiut Benetti Group. “You need staff that can create the lifestyle and the luxury.”
To try to remedy the problem, Benetti is setting up master classes in China and flying captains from all over the world in to Italy to train them on how to serve Chinese yacht owners. His classes will focus on concierge services.
Others are getting creative. Simpson Marine, an Asia-based yacht dealer who sold 20 vessels into China last year, looks for former ferry operators and professional fishing-boat captains who want to upgrade their professions, said Mike Simpson, the company’s founder. Simpson Marine is in talks with Hainan Airlines Co. to develop a yacht training course similar to its flight training course.
Until education methods pay off, most captains are being recruited from Australia, Italy, and France. “Sometimes the Chinese see this as a perk,” said Mr. Simpson. “It adds to the prestige of owning the yacht.”
photo credit: azimut benetti