Though the superyacht business is a relatively small industry, it is packed with international professionals from all walks of life, and it can certainly be easy to get lost in the sea of faces we're presented with at boat shows, yachting events and beyond. In this series of articles, we take a step back from rushed business meetings and hurried networking and sit down with professionals from across the wide spectrum of the superyacht business to learn more about who they are and what they do for the industry. This week, we get to know Captain Paul Bickley, who has captained superyacht Latitude since 2010.Photo: Fraser Yachts
Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey to becoming a superyacht captain.
My initial introduction was back in 1993 while working in the tug and barge industry in the far north of Queensland when motor yacht Virginian made a scheduled visit to Cairns. The arrival of such a prestigious yacht really made local headlines and to be invited onboard a recently launched Feadship of such a pedigree was my initial introduction to what was to be the beginning of my career. From there, and 25 years later, I still get the same buzz from doing what I do. Photo: Fraser Yachts
You have been captain of Latitude for nearly nine years: what has kept you at her helm for this long?
I believe the three main ingredients needed to succeed in this industry are: owner, crew and the right yacht. Take any of these element’s away and the pursuit of continuity becomes far more difficult. I have benefitted from an owner who trusts in my decisions and a loyal crew who strive to provide the owner with a reliable and enjoyable platform to work from. As Richard Branson said, “train them so they can leave, treat them so they don’t want to.”
What are some of your favourite places that you've visited as captain?
In my early years during my time onboard commercial vessels I loved visiting the remote regions such as the Torres Strait Islands north of Australia and the then untouched Papua New Guinea. As a proud Kiwi, anywhere in the south Pacific brings back great memories, but Croatia, Turkey, and Greece would also rate highly in my top place list. Photo: Fraser Yachts Latitude is known for being a highly successful charter yacht: what do you think are the main reasons for her success?
The continuity of crew retention is something that I believe gives both clients and brokers the confidence that we are a well-established operation which has been tried and tested over the years. Although each and every charter is vastly different, our base standard of service and onboard procedures rarely differ. This continuity is also recognised during flag, class and management visits who appreciate working with the same officers and crew from previous years.
Where have you been cruising in recent seasons, and do you have any stand-out moments from these trips?
Being involved with the 35th America's Cup last year in Bermuda was a fantastic experience. To see the racing up close and being connected with a Challenger team was a bucket list dream come true.
The SuperYacht iQ 2018 Market Report
Did you know that in 2017....
- 180 new yachts over 30 metres were sold
- 149 new yachts over 30 metres were completed
- 443 yachts over 30 metres were under construction
- 30% of the yachts under construction were available for sale
- 20% of the yachts were owned by clients from the USA