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Insight: Captains vs. Brokers

Market

It’s no secret that Captains and brokers can often have a tumultuous relationship when it comes to the sale of a yacht, but where does this animosity derive from?

Is it the fault of the broker, exuding a distinct lack of respect for the role the Captain and the crew have to play in selling a yacht to her new owner? Is it the Captains, stubbornly refusing to be dictated to in any way in regards to the vessel he or she commands? Here we talk to several Captain’s from all over the world, who share their side to the story.

  1. In what way can the Captain contribute to the successful sale of a yacht?

  2. Is it the Captain's responsibility to ensure the presentation of the vessel is up to scratch or the brokers?

  3. Do brokers and Captains have a difficult relationship throughout the sale process? How can brokers and Captain’s work better together?

Captain Lorian Smith

1) The Captain can contribute in the first instance by having a well maintained yacht, with yacht records, all certification up to date, annual surveys completed and deficiencies rectified.

2) A well cared for yacht is the Captain's responsibility on a daily basis but especially when it comes to sell. The Captain is responsible for the upkeep of the yacht, of course, but as we know, brokers can be very last minute in approach and possibly unsympathetic to the time it takes to get the yacht ready for a viewing.

3) Brokers and Captains are very different people, they usually operate in different social circles and aren't always compatible. The broker must try their best to get and keep the Captain on side, working closely with schedules, viewings and cruises. The Captain must work hard to keep the yacht presentable and all equipment in working order.

Knowledge is key, and many brokers just walk onto a yacht and start talking as though they know the yacht inside-out and in fact have very little knowledge. A sale may be a sale, but if a broker has mislead a client at the buying stage it does nothing to build a relationship for the future. It also leads to a perception of un-professionalism which the industry is trying to move away from.

Captain Mike Hitch

1)At the end of the day, the Captain works for the owner. His salary is paid by the owner. If the owner wants to sell the yacht, then the Captain is obligated to do whatever he can to facilitate the sale.

2)It is absolutely the Captain’s responsibility to make sure the yacht is ready for presentation at all times. Having said that, there needs to be good communication between the yacht and the broker to make sure that the broker’s requests regarding the viewing can be put into place. On the one hand, the broker needs to understand the operational constraints of the yacht and to remain flexible.

3)I’ve always had a good relationship with the brokers. We both have a job to do, for the ultimate goal of selling the yacht for a price that is acceptable to the owner. Brokers should make sure that only qualified clients are allowed to view the yacht as there is nothing more demoralising for a Captain and crew to prepare the yacht for viewing to then find out that that the potential buyer does not have the means to purchase.

Captain Christoph Schaefer


1)A successful sale/purchase of a yacht is a team effort by many people: the client, the manager, the broker, the surveyors and the Captain and his crew. Any broker seeking to cut out an experienced Captain is potentially asking for trouble. Acting for the buyer, it is the Captain who usually has the best understanding of the clients needs and can help identify which yacht will be most suitable. While this by certain brokers will be considered a disadvantage, it is always in everybody's interest to be upfront and transparent about the vessel.

2)The Captain is responsible for the overall maintenance and presentation of the yacht. He therefore should have the most detailed knowledge of the condition of the yacht, the maintenance that was performed and the general upkeep of the vessel.

3)That this process can at times be tumultuous is the nature of the beast. All sides should be heard and taken seriously. While there is no doubt that we are all in the industry to make a living, a good broker is one that has clearly the client's best interest in mind as opposed to the commission he will earn in the end. To achieve this goal the broker should always seek out the best possible relationship with the Captain, and obviously vice versa.

The yachting industry has a huge amount of growing to do. The amount of money to be made in this industry I am afraid will always attract a number of bottom feeders - brokers and Captains alike.

Captain Michael Rouse

1) You need to know the yacht. Invariably Captain’s get into the discussions about the yacht with potential clients, so what I’m seeing recently is that client’s like to talk to a Captain as well to get a different perspective.

2) Surely I’m duty bound as the Captain to present the boat as best as I can because the person paying my salary has tasked me with presenting the boat in the best possible manner? If they bring a broker in you’ve got to present the boat in the best way to assist that process. If a broker is representing an owner, then the broker and the Captain are on the same side. Respect each other and respect what you’re bringing to the table.

3)There is an immense amount of animosity that floats around the industry between different parties because they don’t respect that everyone has a part to play. If you’ve got a happy owner, you’ve got a better industry. The more owner’s that are happy, the more boats that are in the industry. At the end of the day if you respect people and you respect their role in the party, common courtesy costs nothing.

Brokers and Captains can have a difficult relationship, and quite often it can be fractious, but I think you should just do your job, respect each other and leave egos aside. If you are employed to sell it, sell it. If you’re employed to run it, run it. If both parties work together you may end up with a quicker and smoother result.

Are a Captain or a broker with a different opinion? Let us know at [email protected].

This article is featured in the most recent edition of the SuperYacht Times newspaper, published just last week. Subscribe here and never miss another issue.

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