Please select your home edition
GJW Direct 2024 Dinghy

2024 Rivergate and Southport Yacht Club Superyacht Captains' Long Lunch

by Rivergate Marina & Shipyard 22 May 08:55 BST
2024 Rivergate and Southport Yacht Club Superyacht Captains' Long Lunch © Rivergate Marina & Shipyard

Record numbers attended the 2024 Rivergate and Southport Yacht Club Superyacht Captains' Long Lunch, savouring the chance to socialise ahead of a huge month for the marine industry.

The 11th annual Rivergate and Southport Yacht Club Superyacht Captains' Long Lunch was held on the Club's Western Deck, overlooking the Waterscape Pontoon Bar and marina. This year's event, hosted by Rivergate Marina & Shipyard and Southport Yacht Club, welcomed 44 guests, representing visiting international experts ahead of speaking engagements at the ASMEX Conference, superyacht Captains, industry proponents from AIMEX-Superyacht Australia, MSQ, agents and suppliers.

Esteemed international guests included Theo Hooning, Secretary General, Superyacht Builders Association (SYBAss), Kitty McGowan, President, US Superyacht Association, and Mark Mellinger, President, Headhunter Inc.

With the first hint of winter in the salty air, guests gathered on SYC's Western Deck, with commanding views across the Broadwater and to the Megayacht Berth - Australia's largest at 163-metres.

Steve Fisher, Rivergate's Director of International Business, welcomed guests in his inimitable and succinct style, and introduced Rivergate Director, Tom Hill who thanked Captains for their continued support of Rivergate. Patriarch, Bob Hill was also in attendance.

As with all of Rivergate's social events, it didn't take long for guests to find common ground, discussing the upcoming ASMEX Conference, Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show, and the diverse issues and current topics of interest in international superyacht spheres.

Several of the skippers made a special effort to attend, taking time off from overseeing refit works at Rivergate, including Captain Damien Dempsey, skipper of 37-metre sailing yacht, Radiance. The Ed Dubois-designed sloop has been at Rivergate for seven months, undertaking a thorough refit ahead of resuming its global voyage.

A veteran of more than 30 years of sailing, helming private yachts and charter vessels in the cruising grounds of Alaska, the Pacific, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, Captain Damien admits he is certainly "landsick" and eager to get back on board and onto the next destination.

"Thankfully, Rivergate has been a wonderful place to base Radiance and undertake works," he said. "Along with excellent facilities, it's important to find a refit team who understand what we're trying to achieve and who will look after the boat during major works. It is after all, a five-star floating hotel.

"Andrew Cannon and the team are knowledgeable. They focus on the customer and the job to be done. Andrew is very diplomatic and knows how to liaise with all the trades and contractors to make the project work. We are very satisfied."

This was Captain Damien's first Rivergate Captains' Long Lunch, and he said he appreciated the opportunity to "meet, hang out, shoot the breeze with other Captains".

"In Palm (de Mallorca, Spain) where I'm based, we have a Captains' Club that holds similar get togethers. We exchange information about anchorages and destinations. It's great to discuss these things with others who share the same livelihood and lifestyle - and what a lifestyle! And it's a good chance to gossip about people who don't attend!" he joked.

The Captain of the 41-metre, world-cruising motor yacht, Batavia, Mark Clacher, has been skipper for the same owners for 20 years, and at the helm of Batavia for seven years, exploring the waters of Lankawi, Thailand, the Maldives, Indonesia, Cambodia and Borneo.

Now back in Australia to enjoy Sydney and the Whitsundays, Captain Mark said there was nothing better than some time off the boat to catch up with old mates and meet new people.

"It's refreshing to hear stories from other Captains, how they find the various yards, who they recommend and share our experiences. And it's just nice to socialise with people who understand what you do and why we love it!"

Captain Scott Carter, skipper of the 42-metre, triple-masted, Southern Cloud, was looking forward to completing refit works at Rivergate ahead of setting sail to Fiji with owners on board for a season of surfing, fishing and diving.

Captain Adam Conde, one of two relief skippers aboard 46-metre Benetti, MY More, said he is planning to take the freshly refit vessel north to the Whitsundays and eventually, the Kimberleys during its first season in charter.

Charter, one of the key topics of discussion over lunch, is only growing stronger in Australia, and seems to be impervious to economical fluctuations and 'cost of living pressures'.

"Charter is very popular with families," explained Captain Glen Gray of MY Quantum, the 37-metre Warren S120 which is currently for sale and on the Gold Coast to attend SCIBS.

"I would say the corporate side has dried up somewhat, but there are still busy months: February, October, December, and events like the Rugby League Grand Final in September," said Captain Glen.

"In January, families like to head up to Palm Beach and in February, there's an influx of celebrities into Sydney for shows, such as Pink and Taylor Swift. In August and September, it's all about the Whitsundays, based around Race Week."

Another topic of discussion was the constant challenge to source quality crew.

"It's a never-ending challenge!" said Captain Bruce Jenkins of 48-metre charter yacht, MY Big Sky. "There's no simple solution, you just have to persevere."

Asked if reality TV series such as Below Deck were helpful in attracting new blood to the business, the resounding response on this occasion was "No!"

"In fact, in many cases it attracts the wrong people to the industry. They see the show and think it's all parties and jacuzzis. They don't realise the level of service and skills required for charter."

Captain Charlie Howell of 27-metre Horizon, MY Encore, based on the Gold Coast, was thrilled to catch up with fellow Captains on home turf. "It's a great networking event, a chance to discuss business, but also let our hair down a little and have some fun."

From Carter Marine Agencies, Carrie Carter is a regular at Rivergate events. She said, "It's always wonderful to see friends in the industry who live far and wide and catch up with their news - who's looking for work, where they're off to next, how we can help. Southport Yacht Club is a lovely venue, great food and fabulous company!"

Geoff Majer, Director at Major Yacht Services Australia, based in Sydney, with another office in Cairns, said the event this year was "a great format and the location was spot on!"

"It was a great turnout of Captains - a lot of the more seasoned skippers who I have known for 25 or so years, and they went overseas and did their thing, and now they're back. It was great to reconnect with them.

"I appreciated the update from pilots for the area, MSQ, and it was good to hear what's happening in the Broadwater in terms of new marina developments."

Sarah Egan, Director of BoatStyle, who was the Designer/Project Manager for the refit of MY More, commented, "It's important for me to touch base with Captains, many of whom I've known for many years.

"I like being able to speak with them about the technical systems that work on board for them, software programs, management programs; and itineraries, where they take their owners and guests. I like to pass on their suggestions to my clients."

Kitty McGowan, a native of Florida and President of the US Superyacht Association, has previously visited Australia for the ASMEX Conference and said she is thrilled to be back.

"It's always fun, and I learn so much from the local industry and delegates to the conference."

It was Director of SYBASS, Theo Hooning's first visit to Australia, and fresh off the plane, he was quick to praise the Megayacht Berth as world-class.

AIMEX-Superyacht Australia CEO, David Good deemed this year's RMS-SYC Superyacht Captains' Long Lunch "The best one by far!"

"There was a really good mix of Captains, the best food I've experienced at Southport Yacht Club, and all the overseas guests were impressed by the hospitality, as well as the Megayacht Berth. I think they were surprised at the level of infrastructure, and the Gold Coast marina and shipyard tours on Wednesday 22 May will further impress them."

Steve Fisher, who ended his duties on the day with a cuddle with the youngest member of the Rivergate team, 7-month-old Violet Hill (daughter of Tom and Shannelle Hill), was pleased with the response to the event and notched it up as "one of the best ever".

"There's no doubt that we all benefit from these social occasions. It is about networking and talking business in a casual setting, but really, the friendships that unite us over the years are the most important."

For more information visit

Related Articles

It's just a stick
It was just like watching an enthusiastic kid It was just like watching an enthusiastic kid. Alinghi's Silvio Arrivabene was totally in the 'nothing to see here' mode, and moreover, was keener to get into the ‘maybe exceeding them' remarks about their targets. Did someone say, ‘Spinal Tap'? Posted on 17 Jun
Solution Inland Championships at Northampton
Sensible retirements were the order of the day The Solution Inland Championships were held in association with the Phantom class at Northampton Sailing Club on the 3rd weekend in June. Posted on 17 Jun
Antigua Sailing Day Regatta at St Edmundsbury
11th year of the event which brings the Caribbean to Bury St Edmunds Members of the St Edmundsbury Sailing & Canoeing Association, based at Lackford Lake near Bury St Edmunds, enjoyed champagne conditions for their 11th Antigua Sailing Day Regatta on Sunday. Posted on 17 Jun
SaiGP's Racing on the Edge Season 4 Episode 9
Financial pressure goes on some teams. Spanish valued at $35million for investors. US capsize Financial pressure goes on some teams ahead of Season 5. Spanish valued at $35million for investors. US capsize aftermath and video of crew injuries. Hamish Willcox on coaching Spanish SailGP team and his review of the team. Posted on 17 Jun
12mR World Championship Porquerolles kicks off
Sixteen 12mRs are present for this major international event There's a real America's Cup atmosphere in Porquerolles, since this morning, around the 12mR boats that took part in the Cup from 1958 to 1987. Sixteen 12mRs are present for this major international event. Posted on 17 Jun
Noble Marine UK Musto Skiff Nationals overall
For Sam Barker and Sam Pascoe, there was a battle to be fought Heading into the last day of the UK National Championship, it was still all to play for. The night before, the sailing club had put on a great BBQ and a good few beers for the fleet, which ran into the early hours for some. Posted on 17 Jun
10 Rater National Championships at Datchet
Unlike last weekend, the wind behaved Following on from the Marblehead Nationals held the previous weekend, Datchet put on another good display. The competitors arrived to a cool West to North west wind which placed the racing on the North side of the clubhouse. Posted on 17 Jun
Stewart Brewing Squib UK Nationals day 1
A light wind start at the Royal Forth Yacht Club When the weather forecasters talk about light winds, the heavyweights of the Squib fleet groan. And today, in The Royal Forth Yacht Club, there was quite a lot of groaning, until the Squibs got afloat. Posted on 17 Jun
Over 120 teams for Copa del Rey MAPFRE
A combination of 122 ORC, ClubSwan, J/70 and Blusail 24 yachts sign up The Copa del Rey MAPFRE continues to strengthen as an event, with higher numbers of teams every year registering for the prime Mediterranean regatta. Posted on 17 Jun
Keil Week 2024: Reunion from AFG to ZIM
Sailors from 53 nations are set for racing in just 5 days time Even in the 2024 Olympic year, five days before the first starting signal of the main organiser Kieler Yacht-Club, athletes from 53 nations have already announced their participation in the state capital of Schleswig-Holstein. Posted on 17 Jun