The annual Sydney Superyacht Captains’ Long Lunch, presented by Rivergate Marina and Shipyard, Sydney Superyacht Marina and Major Yacht Services took place Tuesday 24 November at the sublime waterfront venue, Squire’s Landing at Sydney Cove Overseas Passenger Terminal.

The much-revered tradition was attended by 30 Captains and a small group of representatives from AIMEX, Ocean Media Publisher and event partners.

After a challenging year of restrictions and limited social interaction, the luncheon was a much-appreciated reunion that sparked plenty of debate, discussion and face-to-face collaboration on issues facing the industry.

David Good, CEO at AIMEX Superyacht Australia said the luncheon was “A wonderful opportunity for Captains and industry to renew ties and catch up on the topics of interest at all levels”.

Some of those topics included COVID-era precautions, the importance of keeping borders open, international travel opening up again, and the allure of Australian cruising grounds.

“There has been a huge increase in the number of Australian owners bringing back their vessels to Australia. This time last year, our largest vessel was MY Mischief at 52.4-metres. Now, we’ve welcomed MY Keri Lee III, Pangaea and Oceana, among many others returning downunder.

“There was much discussion about the approach of Ahoy Club which is introducing new blood to charter; people who’ve come from the cruise ship market or people who didn’t realise how accessible charter really is.”

Another theme was the resilience of the industry.

“Everybody was quite surprised that the industry is operating close to normal,” said David. “Fortunately, in terms of refits, repairs and yachting in general, we have not been too affected by restrictions. There is a rising interest in charter vacations for families, a lot of positive messages our there about travelling locally and seeing the sights that superyacht charter can offer in small, intimate, safe groups.

“From March, when COVID struck, we went from sudden shutdown to cautious optimism and now confidence that 2021 will be a great year. The rise in interest in charter and bringing vessels back to Australia is not a flash in the pan. In 2021, people are really looking forward to a year that is closer to normal: travel, boat shows, catching up with friends.”

Steve Fisher from Rivergate said the Captains’ lunch is “a valuable opportunity for Captains to catch up and share intel”.

“Particularly during COVID, it’s a must that Captains have a forum to meet and share their thoughts and processes for keeping their crews and owners safe. After many months of uncertainty, everybody was happy to be socialising again.

“Captains of NSW boats were looking forward to Queensland borders re-opening so they can get back to enjoying the cruising season and to carry out maintenance.”

Geoff Majer, Director at Major Yacht Services Australia declared this year’s event “the best to date”.

“I’m looking forward to the 2021 event when international and interstate Captains can attend. We may need to find a larger venue to accommodate all the additional guests!

“It’s extremely important to continue this consistency and to grow this event, especially given the turbulent times of 2020. It’s amazing how many Captains said a similar thing. These Captains’ lunches are highlights of the year. It’s the only opportunity to get so many Captains in the same room for a strictly social function.”

Geoff praised the work of David Good and Superyacht Australia in supporting the superyacht industry, which has managed to remain active in 2020.

“The unforeseen positive outcome for the Australian superyacht industry has been the large number of superyachts that have been imported to Australia. This has boosted the local fleet by 20 percent. In the long term, this influx of imported boats will assist the Australian superyacht services and suppliers to continue to grow.”

Among the many comments praising another successful Captains’ Long Lunch was the observation from Clemens Overdijk, General Manager at Sydney Superyacht Marina that unanimously, those in attendance benefited from the event both socially and professionally.

Captain Luke Caldwell of MY Kokomo II said “The venue was fantastic, food delicious and beverages free flowing, everybody was in fine form. We look forward to coming up and getting stuck into some work in Queensland early next year.”

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