At the helm: Four productive days for the Captains Summit

Held every two years, the Feadship Captain’s Summit serves as a unique opportunity for the people who design and build the world’s top motoryachts to spend four days with those who operate and manage them. The 2018 edition in mid-October welcomed captains from a wide array of Feadships in terms of length (97 to 34 metres) and age (from 1978 to a build due for completion in 2020). Participants toured Feadship facilities and spent productive mornings with Studio de Voogt mastering the art of pure custom creation. There were also informative gatherings with key Feadship staff aimed at enhancing the spirit of mutual cooperation.

As Feadship captains devote their lives to ensuring owners enjoy the best possible time on their yachts, the summit is a chance to have the shoe on the other foot. Guests enjoyed a pleasant stay at a historic country estate, some fine meals including a lunch tour of the Amsterdam canals and dinner in the Admiral’s Room at the Maritime Museum. A private tour of the famous VOC replica ship was also much appreciated by the captains. Here is a sample of their thoughts on the event as a whole.

Emile Coetzee, captain of Hurricane Run

I can honestly say that it was a privilege to join this summit. You might presume that the people who build the best boats in the world know how to entertain guests well – and you’d be right. We captains live on our own little islands so this was a great meeting of minds: at one time there was over 300 years of Feadship experience on my table. Spending time in a relaxed atmosphere with people who constantly strive for excellence in terms of innovation, comfort, safety and construction was invaluable.

I also thoroughly enjoyed meeting the Feadship designers and naval architects. The skills and technology available are astonishing and I was amazed at the quality of the 3D printing renditions and virtual reality experiences. It was also good to be able to provide feedback and I felt that we left the summit as Feadship ambassadors with a genuine understanding of how such amazing yachts are built.

On a personal note, I loved being back in Amsterdam. My daughter was born in a hospital here three days after High Chaparral (my first build) was launched in 2004 and she also got to open the sluice to let the water into the dry dock five years later when we celebrated the christening of Hurricane Run.

Joey Rijs, captain of Faith

Having skippered four Feadships and been build captain on three, I think it’s great that Feadship reaches out to captains in this way. We rarely get the chance to meet because of the intense nature of our work. I’m also impressed that Feadship is so open to hearing our opinions and keen to learn. They work extremely hard to build their boats and we captains work extremely hard to operate them in practice, all with the same aim of keeping alive the dreams of owners. We all work for people who don’t take no for an answer and everything must run as smoothly as possible.

A can-do attitude is essential for those who work in this industry and it’s good to learn about how boats come together during the summit. After the build is complete, a captain gets the key to an incredibly sophisticated piece of equipment. Good contact with the yard is essential and an event like this brings this common goal closer together.

Glen McDonnell, captain of Vava

I’ve been running my Feadship for twelve years but, having never had the chance to tour the facilities here in the Netherlands, I’ve been like a kid in a candy store. I’m very proud of Vava: her owners have been to all sorts of places since her launch in 1996, covering some 250,000 NM. She’s still very much a pedigree Feadship and to have the chance to come back to her original home and tell my story felt like giving something back.

My introduction to the legendary hospitably of the Feadship family certainly did not disappoint. The hotel took my breath away and it’s been great taking early morning walks in the countryside. It’s also been fascinating to see the way new builds are done at Feadship and all the planning that goes into design and construction. The project we worked on together helped me understand the whole process and gain far more empathy for the challenges of custom design. Overall this has been a genuinely rich and fun experience.                

Rory Hogan, captain of Joy

I didn’t know what to expect from this summit. After receiving my invite I asked a fellow captain who’d attended before whether it was worth trying to get away from Joy and he replied with three words ‘very much so’. He was right and I was taken aback by how comprehensive it all was. We were treated as honoured guests from the moment we arrived. including even having embroidered bathrobes at the hotel!

I’ve learnt a lot too, having only spent time previously at the yard where Joy was built, it was super to have the chance to see the other design and construction facilities. It helped me appreciate the true extent of Feadship’s capacity. And then to be able to sit down with the designers and architects themselves, who took our ideas and produced within 24 hours some incredible drawings, was hugely impressive. I also found Farouk Nefzi’s introductory talk on the superyacht industry in general to be a real eye-opener.

Carey Drake, captain of Harle

This week was a unique opportunity to meet some of my peers: there was an incredible amount of knowledge and talent at the summit, which was invaluable to me as a younger captain. I was also able to talk about the current refit of Harle that we’re doing under supervision of the Feadship team in Genoa. I enjoyed the discussions about how Feadship is enabling Feadships to retain their Feadship pedigree during refits and rebuilds. It’s not always possible to come to the Netherlands and the way Feadship is supporting those that cannot was well explained at the summit.

Nicholas Adamson, captain of Kamino

This summit was very informative and a superb chance to spend time with other captains. It was also good to come back to the yard where I worked as build captain. But the number one take away for me was the experience of working on a design as a team of four. I now truly understand how the profile of a Feadship is created in partnership with owners, how her shape is gradually determined by the speed of the yacht and intended sailing areas. It was fascinating to work out how to incorporate all the items that are indispensable from a personal perspective, to be part of the carte blanche experience. The ability of the designers to listen and seamlessly translate wishes in this way is phenomenal: There are so many unbelievably talented people here at Feadship across every discipline.