Robbie Ferron
Robbie Ferron

Ten ‘Movers & Shakers’ Share Their Views of the Caribbean Marine Industries

What’s the future hold for the Caribbean’s marine industries? All At Sea asked ten of the regions’ ‘movers and shakers’ to share their thoughts.

Marine Business
“The most important change in the chandlery business in the Caribbean is the greater confidence by operators and customers in their being a significant market for these goods. To meet challenges such as managing complex inventory and variable taxation systems, chandleries will need to ensure that their inventory management capacities are adapted to complex conditions by migrating to more advanced and better software to keep pace with demands.”

– Robbie Ferron, St. Maarten, Group Manager at Budget Marine N.V.

Peter Holmberg
Peter Holmberg

Sailing
“The Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA) has made great strides. We saw great potential for growth of Caribbean racing on the international big boat circuit; we improved operations to take advantage of this opportunity. We updated our internal operations, improved communications, coordinated the race calendar and promoted the entire region to the world. The final step happened last year when we initiated our youth development committee to focus on growing the sport in addition to the racing side.”

 – Peter Holmberg, St. Thomas, USVI, CSA President

 

Kathy Lammers
Kathy Lammers

Regattas
“Caribbean regattas have developed tremendously. To move forward, the biggest thing we can do to keep pace with demands of sailors is to talk to them to find out what it is that they want. For example, to attract the growing trend of one-design classes may mean providing their own class or creating specific courses. The more we can do to cater to individual groups, the more likely we’re going to attract them. Of course, as a regatta organizer, that means a lot more work, but it’s necessary to keep our regattas on the cutting edge of the evolution of serious racing throughout the world.”

– Kathy Lammers, chairman of the regatta organizing committee
for Antigua Sailing Week

 

Jeffrey Chen
Jeffrey Chen

Handicap Racing
“The CSA rule started humbly in the 60s. Today there are two avenues of development that directly reflect requests by the region’s racing sailors. First is the CSA Multihull Rule. There is no doubt that this is where the performance envelope in sailing is continually being stretched. Thanks to the efforts of Stuart Knaggs and Alfred Koolen in St Maarten this is now a reality for the CSA and a boon to multihull racing in the Caribbean. Secondly, we need to support boat owners for whom participation rather than competition is the primary motive for entering regattas. There is evaluation of a proposal to produce a version of the CSA Rule that could satisfy these customers.”

– Jeffrey Chen, Trinidad & Tobago, CSA Chief Measurer

 

Eric Tulla
Eric Tulla

Yacht Racing – Judging
“My first protest hearing, I was called over because I knew the rules. This aspect of the sport became more formalized by mentors like Arthur ‘Tuna’ Wullschleger. Judging proficiency becomes even more important with the advent of sponsors and bigger prizes. The challenge for the future is to recruit new judges. This means attracting our younger sailors. The best judges are those who are sailors first, know the rules and have a judicial temperament.”

– Eric Tulla, Puerto Rico, ISAF International Judge

Crewed Chartering
“Most startling in chartering is the transformation from monohulls to multihulls. Even with catamarans, we’ve seen great changes. The ‘top dogs in the cat world’ are now Lagoon 62s. As platforms grow in size, they grow upwards too. Lagoon 62s, with their large fly bridge decks have even more usable space than their length and breadth suggests, but this same acreage inflation means that they become more and more taxing for two crew members, a captain-and-chef/mate team, to operate.”

– Dick Schoonover, manager, Charterport BVI

Marinas
“Realizing that yachts move at will and generally visit more than one island, made marine associations see a value in co-operation as well as competition. In the Caribbean Marine Association (CMA), the focuses at the moment are on the continual expansion into other islands, the further roll-out of SailClear.com, continued pressure on the insurance market and, probably most importantly, to get a new Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) style study of the region’s yachting industry.”

– John Duffy, Antigua, President, Caribbean Marine Association

 

Cuthbert Didier
Cuthbert Didier

Yachting Tourism
“Yachting is a vibrant sector on some islands. However, in the wider Caribbean there has been a slower pace in facilitating the expansion of the yachting sector. Moving forward, in all the islands there needs to be a small department made up of at least five persons who will man a yachting desk. That department should report directly to the Minister of Tourism, and have a presence on the Tourism boards. Secondly, all governments MUST invest in better data collection and include yacht revenue data and yacht-spend in national accounting. Lastly, governments must invest in the facilitation at all ports of entry and marinas. Customs, immigration and port officers must be polite and a reflection of the destination. There must be the will to embrace this industry which is contributing so much to all the islands’ gross domestic product.”

– Cuthbert Didier, maritime consultant, Ministry of Tourism,
Heritage and Creative Industries, St. Lucia

 

Pierre Verbiesen
Pierre Verbiesen

Boatyards
“Issues today, and what we see at Curaçao Marine, is entrepot status such as yachts being able to stay for as long as they like; improved services, security and facilities; website optimization for iPad, iPhone and android-friendly; social media-like use of Facebook; better hauling capacity; work crew with better attitude and work ethic; and concentrating more on customer’s well-being. In the next years there will be more demand for yards outside Venezuela and outside the hurricane belt. A safe and secure place, with reasonably priced skilled labor, is very important for the yachties.”

– Pierre Verbiesen, owner and manager of Curaçao Marine

 

Gary Clifford
Gary Clifford

Sport Fishing
“Sport fishing tournaments in the Caribbean evolved in many ways: modified release formats, greater quality and quantity of prizes due to sponsorship, improved organization, regional competition that motivates organizers to come up with improvements to stay ahead of the pack, and the use of social media so that more people are directly ‘involved’ than ever before. In the future, there will be a focus on safety and liability such as having, for example, US$1 million in liability insurance!”

– Gary Clifford, Grenada, owner of True Blue Sport fishing and past organizers
of the Budget Marine Spice Island Billfish Tournament

 

Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian. 

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