Yacht crew of 2030

The world is in a constant state of change. The past two years of the pandemic has seen drastic worldwide changes in how we live, work and travel, impacting every industry, including yachting.

The yachting industry is an advanced, niche one with the power to drive change and push limits – and with the number of yachts and owners growing year on year, how will yachting change? How will these changes affect the crew?

The future for yacht crew may see various factors affecting the way they work, from a push in sustainable operations and a shift in owner dynamic through to technological advances.

Crew members cleaning superyacht

A sustainable future

The one certainty about the future is that we can’t discuss it without addressing sustainability, which must underpin all future decisions throughout the industry. In recent years yachting has stepped up its sustainability effort, increasing commitments, pledges and initiatives from multiple stakeholders to improve sustainability. But the real question is, how will these efforts and promises be upheld?

For future crew, sustainability will no longer be a choice. It will be an integral part of education and training. No longer will it be enough for crew to pass a medical (ENG1) and have an STCW certificate; yacht crew of the future will need to go through sustainability training and have knowledge and awareness about the issues. These green credentials will educate them on sustainable practices and processes on board.

By 2030 the most sustainable yachts will be identified by a green flag system, dependent on how many sustainable development goals they have reached. This will be integrated into marina entry requirements, meaning that the crew will have to incorporate sustainability into daily operations and maintenance to reach these accreditations. This will provide a need for targeted crew job roles such as sustainability officers. These on-board sustainability officers will manage the daily operations more sustainably by tracking energy consumption and the utilisation of resources throughout the yacht.

We have already seen an increase in sustainable brands and products available in this industry; this sustainable demand will continue to be met with more players entering this space. In the future, these products will have barcode technology showing the environmental footprint, enabling crew to track their impact and make better choices.

Gone are the days that sustainable yachting is just about crew not drinking out of plastic water bottles, it is about so much more - including the social wellbeing of crew. Thanks to the few mentoring schemes and programmes out there today, yachting is becoming a more professional industry, this will begin to filter down to the smaller yachts to create a fairer, more diverse industry.

Yachting will see increased rotational roles, to reflect the corporate world where the four-day working week and flexible schedules are now commonplace.

Engineer working aboard a superyacht

Change in ownership

The world’s wealthiest are getting younger, more adventurous and most importantly, more environmentally conscious. With more millennials becoming millionaires, different markets will emerge in yachting, requiring different services from the current owner profiles. These younger owners are starting to demand more experiences, adventure and freedom, so how will this change the crewing of yachts?

The current generations are passing on the baton to this new generation, craving more adventure. There will be a shift in how the crew are utilised; the days of brown envelopes for the best spot in St Tropez will be replaced with crew organising more philanthropic experiences on remote islands.

Social media has overtaken how we see the world today, which has exhausted a lot of travel experiences. Owners want to see new destinations and ones that take them further than anyone has already gone. We can see this already with the rise in new-build explorer yachts. By 2030, crew will need to be trained for extreme weather conditions, remote passage planning and adventure sports. This increase in off-the-beaten-track destinations will also play into the increased need for rotational positions within the industry.

The rise in technology

Technology and innovation are constantly changing our world in a way we would never have believed. From guest demands, yacht operations to crew training, technology will continue to disrupt and develop every part of the industry.

The future will see crew already having done their familiarisation training before stepping foot on board. With the rise in virtual technology, this will be done through 360 and 3D virtual tours of the yacht. Once on board, this technology will be an essential part of crew operations from inventorying through to health and safety drills with VR headsets. From 3D tours to 3D printing, crew will no longer be waiting for parts to arrive across oceans when needed for maintenance and repair, as they can simply print out what they need on board.

It would be hard to discuss the future of the virtual world without mentioning metaverse, especially as in November 2021 the first digital yacht sold for $650,000 (c. €575,000). What does this mean for the future of yachting? Will digital yachting become a whole other industry alongside the real one?

Today, guests are demanding the same technology set up and quality on board as they have in their multi-million-dollar homes, so instantaneous responses are a must. Whilst the Internet of Things and AI has moved on leaps and bounds already, how about on board? We are starting to see some streamlining with apps that control everything from entertainment to coffee machines, but this will only increase. The future will need to see regular crew training to keep up with the smart tech on board. This will also aid sustainability; the data and patterns of usage collected from smart tech will allow crew to track energy consumption and identify areas of improvement.

Engineer working aboard a superyacht

When it comes to the future, we can’t ignore robotics. Whilst there are robots already out there for specific tasks such as cleaning and ironing, how far away is it until we see them on board? Due to the customer-facing nature, yachting will not be fully autonomised, however it is likely we will see it integrated into crew in some dimension. Robots will be able to take on the more repetitive and mundane tasks, which can increase crew job satisfaction and prevent burnout in a busy season. Why wouldn’t you want the robot to scrub the deck whilst you can focus on getting the watersports toys out for guests?

Harnessing these technologies within the industry can also aid with the mental wellbeing of the crew. In recent years - particularly heightened by the pandemic - there has been increased awareness within yachting of mental health whereby positive initiatives directed solely at yacht crew have emerged. Today we have seen an increase in wearable technologies, lots of us now track everything we do to improve physically and mentally. If used correctly and transparently, could using data, AI and smart tech in the future to monitor the health and wellbeing of the crew be on the horizon?

Whilst superyachts won’t turn into a fully cyborg crew, they will adapt and streamline crew roles. But will the technology move on enough for them to take a watch and reduce safe manning regulations?

Whilst nothing is certain, the superyacht industry is hosting some promising changes and developments when it comes to future-proofing. The traditional habits of running a yacht are becoming diluted, technology is at its most exciting and the industry is opening its eyes up wider to the need for sustainability.

These are some exciting shifts and for the yacht crew of 2030, we are enthusiastic for you.

Read more crew-related articles in our dedicated Crew Corner library. Alternatively, you can discover more content from Gemma Harris on her website.

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