Over 230 attendees, including 102 captains, 21 crew members, 16 surveyors, 12 owner representatives and 34 partners: these are the numbers that confirm the success of the European stage of the twentieth edition of Benetti Yachtmaster, held from February 19 to 21 at the exclusive W Hotel in Barcelona. The location of the second stage of this year’s edition was also revealed: Key Largo, Florida, from April 22 to 24.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Benetti Yachtmaster, the event that through the years has welcomed over 2,500 guests – including 1,000 yachting sector professionals and nearly 90 sponsors from all over the world -, this edition introduces a new format. As revealed by Benedetta Moreno, Benetti Global Head of Marketing and Communication, in her introductory presentation, Benetti’s aim this year was to balance networking opportunities and time for fun with structured learning sessions promoted by the Shipyard’s own talented personnel. The first stage of the 2020 edition achieved a perfect balance, alternating presentations, workshops and interviews with leisure and team building activities. The second stage will be held from April 22 to 24 in Key Largo, Florida, at Baker’s Key Resort.
A networking moment at the W Hotel in Barcelona
Work got underway with a warm welcome from the marketing team after thanking the numerous partners and guests in attendance went on to remind everyone of some of the past year’s highlights for Benetti, stressing the shipyard’s commitment to environmental sustainability with support for two foundations, BLUE Marine and WATER REVOLUTION, and the launch of B.YOND, a new category of Expedition yacht designed according to tradition and owners’ desires. A standard-bearer for the practical rationalisation of onboard volumes and settings, the yacht is designed for long, comfortable cruises with reduced environmental impact thanks to the E-Mode propulsion architecture developed for Benetti by Siemens.
The afternoon continued with the presentation by Toby Walker, Benetti Sales Area Manager, of the Benetti fleet, the only one in the world to offer owners yachts from 29 to over 100 meters in length, built from composite materials, aluminium and steel, and divided into five categories: Class, Oasis, B.Yond, B.Now and Custom.
High-profile influencer and event moderator Davide Seal then introduced the awaited “The Owner’s team perspective” event, which featured on-stage guests Thomas Jones, captain of the 90-meter Benetti giga yacht M/Y “Lionheart”, and Marine Coating Consultant Rory Marshall. Jones shared his own experiences and described the professional career path that led to his captaining one of the world’s most famous yachts and the epitome of Benetti’s timeless elegance, hand craftsmanship and ‘Made in Italy’ culture. Using as his slogan “Find the Owner not the Boat”, Jones explained to an audience of captains like him and industry professionals what the most complicated aspects are of managing a crew of 45 people (31 on board + 14 for crew rotation) and how important it is to create a family-like working environment, which also involves establishing a relationship of trust with the owner. Marshal then went on to look in more depth at coating issues for the hulls of superyachts like M/Y “Lionheart”, which suffer from wear caused by the weather and passing time and require guarantees of high quality standards.
Other guests at the event organised by Benetti took part in the parallel workshop entitled “Guest Host – Body – Mind – Soul”, organised with Gillian Kennedy – The Wellness Gypsy, a well-known Holistic Nutrition & Lifestyle Coach. This event dedicated to crew members and the work they do was the first in a series of parallel meetings organised by Benetti to demonstrate the importance of a customer-centric approach even after a yacht’s construction and delivery.
All Yachtmaster participants finally got together for dinner at the Eclipse Club, the exclusive bar on the twentieth floor of the W Hotel, where they had the chance to network and exchange views, before bringing the first day’s events to a close with cocktails accompanied by live music at Marina Port Vell.
“The Owner’s team perspective” workshop
The Benetti management team was on hand to offer guests the benefit of their own experience, as was David Seal, who continued to moderate the second day’s events, which consisted of a series of workshops to discuss all aspects in the lifecycle of a custom yacht: from customer engagement and design, via planning and construction, to the importance of a customer-centric approach in the post-delivery phase too, where the dedicated services offered by Lusben and Yachtique (in order the A|B Group division that plays a leading role in the refit and repair business and the division that offers owners decor and interior design services) come into play.
Customer Centricity. Sebastiano Fanizza, Benetti Chief Commercial Officer, demonstrated the value of the customer’s central role throughout the entire sales process, from negotiation to contract signing. Fanizza explained which stakeholders are involved in the decision-making process and how every aspect of this phase, from a psychological perspective too, is managed with the greatest care and attention by Benetti.
Design of Your Dream. With on-stage guests Andrew Collect, Senior Project Manager at the UK-based RWD, accompanied by Rossella De Luzio, Benetti Interior Style Manager, and Andrea Mazzolari, designer at Yachtique, the workshop discussed the approaches the Shipyard uses to turn even the boldest projects into reality. The three speakers described their own experiences and showed guests some examples of the designs, techniques, working processes and products cleverly devised by Benetti based on customer requests.
From a Blank Sheet to the Sea. Benetti management, represented by Ferdinando Pilli, Head of Engineering Custom, Marco Tommaso Coiatelli, Cost Estimation & Precontractual Design Custom, Sebastiano Vida, Custom Megayacht Project Manager and Daniele Moltedo, Production Engineering Department Manager & Warranty Department Manager, illustrated the more specifically technical aspects of the approach Benetti uses to fulfil an owner’s expectations, from understanding the project and construction, right through to the delivery of a 100% custom yacht designed from scratch. The session highlighted how the working process is subject to continuous quality controls and how a precisely-organised timetable is the only way to meet a yacht’s delivery deadlines, while maintaining the high quality standards guaranteed by Benetti from the outset. The Tuscan shipyard is, in fact, one of very few in the world capable of managing the parallel construction of multiple Megayachts and Giga yachts over 100 meters in length, as it recently demonstrated during the iconic Benetti Giga Season: a period of hectic activity for Benetti during which over 2,000 technical staff, engineers, designers and suppliers worked in parallel.
Caring Beyond Time and Space. On stage representing Lusben, Fortunato Di Marco, Sales Manager, and Mirko Marani, Technical Manager, analysed various case histories, demonstrating Lusben’s ability to meet owners’ needs not only in terms of engineering, but also of logistics. Lusben’s facilities in the Viareggio, Livorno, Varazze, Malta and Moscow marinas offer captains and crew assistance across the board through specific training and refresher courses. Also on stage was Andrea Mazzolari from Yachtique, who looks after owner assistance for both yachts under construction and those undergoing maintenance and refit operations.
Further demonstrating that this twentieth edition of Benetti Yachtmaster is an event devised to show how the customer remains the focus of attention even after their yacht has been delivered, the workshops planned on the second day were dedicated to crew members and the work they do. Three members of the IYCA (Italian Yacht Chef Association) gave live demonstrations of how to optimise the management of a mega yacht kitchen both organisationally and from the perspective of ethics and quality; Kiyra Rathbone, The Green Stewardess, demonstrated what resources to exploit and tricks to use to manage a yacht in the most environmentally sustainable way possible.
The day ended with an exclusive celebration, followed by a gala dinner in the Museu Marítim de Barcelona. Symbolically, the dinner was scheduled to take place at 20:20, on February 20, 2020, to pay a final tribute to the twentieth edition of Yachtmaster. The celebrations continued with a party staged in the Arsenale Reale complex in the Old Port area. As well as offering a huge collection of objects and artifacts that speak to the close ties between the city and the sea, the museum also plays host to some impressive and unquestionably fascinating historical ships and was chosen as a way to pay tribute to great explorers through history.
The gala dinner at Museu Marítim de Barcelona
Taking advantage of the hospitality that permeates Barcelona, for many years the world’s graffiti capital because of the sheer number of talented artists who have come to its streets to express their chosen artform, Benetti decided to dedicate the third day of the event to team building, with a guided tour of the Ciutat Vella district.
During one session, guests were split into teams to produce cubist-style artworks on subjects linked to Benetti’s past, present or future. They were asked to paint the Custom yacht of their dreams, while drawing inspiration from the art of Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalì and Antoni Gaudì, three iconic twentieth century artists whose history is entwined with the city of Barcelona. A panel of experts judged the work produced, awarding prizes and acknowledgements to the paintings they felt achieved the right sense of aesthetic harmony from the perspective of their quality and the team spirit created.