For its 20th anniversary, the Benetti Yachtmaster found a warm welcome in the beautiful city of Barcelona. What better place to host the event than the Spanish capital city renowned for its art and architecture — if a superyacht doesn’t perfectly slot into that world, does anything?
More than 200 captains and sponsors gathered in the city from February 19–21 to enjoy a program of networking, seminars, and team-building activities aimed at bringing the captains together to interact with each other and the Benetti team. The event was hosted in the W Hotel with its stunning views.
After a welcome from Benetti’s Global Head of Marketing and Communication Benedetta Moreno, we dived in. This year’s event theme was the Owner’s Team Perspective, and first up was an interview with Capt. Thomas Jones of M/Y Lionheart. Jones shared his yachting experiences, how he worked his way up the ladder to captain, and ultimately how he got to Lionheart.
Dinner followed at the W Hotel’s Eclipse Club on the 26th floor. It offered delicious food and drink and spectacular 360-degree night views of both city and sea. For those feeling ambitious, cocktails followed at Marina Port Vell.
The next morning started early. First, Benetti Chief Commercial Officer Sebastiano Fanizza took to the stage to discuss the client evolution at Benetti. Each of the four workshops would tackle one aspect of the lifecycle of a custom yacht, starting with “Customer Centricity.” “Design of Your Dreams” was workshop two, which brought representatives from the design side to the stage. The age-old form vs. function debate arose — usability and storage can be an issue for crew, which designers acknowledge. But when owners want what they want, it can be a tough line to walk. Workshop three was “From a Blank Sheet to the Sea” and the final workshop topic was “Caring Beyond Time and Space.”
The second interior program ran opposite the captains. Chefs and stewardesses were brought together to enhance their skills. Included in their program was a wellbeing mini retreat and morning yoga. After sufficient revitalization, the participating chefs worked with the stews during the IYCA Chef Association Workshop, where participants learned to work with fruits and vegetables. Another issue tackled was communication between chef and stew on board. As Sara Palagi of Versilia Supply Service explained, this can be a hot button issue on yachts.
The afternoon sessions took a distinctly green hue as Giuseppina Ladoni of Crew Pro Uniforms discussed uniform trends and coming changes in eco possibilities. The second seminar was conducted by The Green Stewardess Kiyra Rathbone, who talked to attendees about the importance of making your vessel as green as possible, starting with a few simple switches on board. Her six steps to take on board include switching cleaning products and crew toiletries to environmentally friendly options, buying reusable products, and finding an eco coffee machine. Read more about her and her efforts here.
What would an event like this be without a gala evening to cap it off? Even better, the team was hosted at the Museu Marítim de Barcelona, where we all got to enjoy a fabulous meal in the impressive building — a former shipyard where warships and merchant ships were built until the 18th century. Dinner was delicious, and we were treated to demonstrations of flamenco dancing throughout the evening.
In the city that is heralded for its art, both street and more traditional, the final team-building activity on the last day challenged participants to unleash their inner artist. After being inspired by a tour of some of Barcelona’s street art, the group convened to create their own masterpieces. The 22 groups were tasked to create a yacht in the style of one of Barcelona’s most famous artistic sons — Gaudí, Picasso, or Dalí.
Each group had 90 minutes to complete their painting and explain their art choices to the judging panel. The talent was startling, and judges were hard pressed to decide the winners, but ultimately ruled that Team 10 won for Best Teamwork; Team 17 for Most Creative; Team 22 (ahem, mine before I gave up my spot to wander and take photos) for Best Artistic Representation; and Team 5 surprised no one by winning Best Overall. Team 1 claimed the Best Spirit prize.
After a quick cleanup, we were back to the hotel for one final meal before the event ended. It was a fitting conclusion — we headed back to the W for lunch in the Eclipse Club and had a chance to take in those stunning 360-degree views of the city and the surrounding coastline while indulging in the fabulous food and drink once more. And with that, the 2020 event came to an end — but only momentarily. The U.S. Yachtmaster leg takes place in Key Largo in April, and of course, there’s always next year.
Check out our photos from the event: bit.ly/2SNT7Va