This is the fastest, sturdiest, most seaworthy Benetti ever built, and she will not be beaten!” bellowed Andrew Beeby, chief engineer of the 146-foot Benetti Checkmate. Beeby stood beside his vessel with his shoulders pinned back and his hands tightly clasped behind his back, looking like the former British Navy man he is. He all but glared at the host of Azimut- Benetti executives, employees, vendors, captains and crew gathered before him as he let his bold claim set in.
Then the crowd began to giggle. Miffed, Beeby glanced at his boat and let a small smile slip across his face before going Navy-stern again.
The thing is, he wasn’t standing next to Checkmate. He was alongside a 10-foot-long cardboard-and-plastic boat he had helped build that shortly would race beside others like it as part of a team-building exercise at the 17th edition of the Azimut-Benetti Yachtmaster, held in Miami.
Yachtmaster is designed to hone the skills of captains and crew who work aboard Azimut and particularly Benetti yachts. Over the years, it has been held in Miami, Hong Kong, Italy and France. Experts lead seminars about how to better secure a yacht, train a crew and work with the media during a crisis situation. This year’s speakers included representatives from Fraser Yachts, the crisis-management firm MTI Network and the Norwegian Hull Club, among others.
Beeby says he found the yacht security seminar particularly helpful. As with seemingly everything else these days, a huge part of keeping yacht owners and guests safe is being smart about social media use. In some parts of the world, posting a photo can have dire consequences if a key detail about where the yacht is, or who is on board, is revealed.
“I think back to when I was on a boat in Mexico with one of the richest men in the world,” Beeby says, “and kidnapping was a big business there at the time. Back then, I didn’t think of social media as a security risk, but after Yachtmaster, I’m much more aware of things I hadn’t thought of.”
Of course, Yachtmaster isn’t all work and no play. To cap off the event, Azimut-Benetti throws a champagne-drenched fete to send everyone off feeling great about their yachts, their fellow crew and the company.