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Steve Crawford

Steve Crawford on streamlining skills to superyachts

By Steve Crawford

Founder, Yotspot

The founder of luxury yacht crew placement agency Yotspot began his career by working as crew on a superyacht in the Mediterranean.

Yet, after a summer of working on yachts, he took an unorthodox approach to use his savings to better the experience of peers wanting to work in the sector.

Now with 65,000 users, and growing by 15,000 per year, Yotspot has become one of the industry’s most successful platforms; bringing together captains, crew and employers not just for job opportunities but for training and improved industry connections.

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What first sparked your interest in yachting?

I grew up in Devon by the sea so I was very into sailing. My dad worked as a captain in the merchant navy and I always had an entrepreneurial spirit. After studying business at university some friends told me about their amazing summer working on luxury yachts in the Med.

In 2008 I flew to the South of France to look for work. To get a job on a yacht then you had to dock walk, or go through an agency. I eventually got a job as a deckhand but it took two months. I was frustrated because the experience of looking for work wasn’t as streamlined and fair as it could have been and that inspired Yotspot.

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"In terms of industry as a whole, the order of new yachts has never been higher. The industry is getting bigger and the yachts are getting bigger."

As an experienced crew member, what advice would you give to those wanting to work in the sector?

There are different departments in yachting: deck crew from deckhand to master mariner or captain; interior crew from housekeeping to hospitality; galley crew such as chefs; engineering; and specialists like divers. Build experience relevant to the department. An essential qualification for all is the STCW which is basic safety training for anyone wishing to work at sea.

To become a captain, a Yachtmaster qualification, yacht deliveries, courses like Powerboat Level 2, a jet ski proficiency and diving are helpful. The highest qualification in yachting is the Master 3000 but you can get an unlimited ticket for larger vessels like cruise ships with a commercial qualification and there are some scholarships available; there’s one called the Slater Fund.

Getting in as a green crew member you probably need to fly to places to look for work; I’d recommend Antibes in South of France or Palma de Mallorca. By being local, you can network in the marinas and if there is any work you will be there ready to take the opportunity.

Southampton sits at the heart of the UK’s marine economy – as a business operating in the industry, what advantages are there in being based here?

Southampton is the epicentre for yachting, if you’re going to be based in the UK it’s the right place to be.

The universities here provide world-class maritime training; we have a good relationship with the Warsash Maritime Academy.

There are quite a few yacht designers based here and there’s Sunseeker in Poole and Burgess in London. There is quite a hub of activity from the superyacht sector here and we’re right in the mix of it.

Where is your favourite yachting destination?

Antigua, Barbuda and the British Virgin Islands are beautiful places to visit and have great rum punch!

"Southampton is the epicentre for yachting, if you’re going to be based in the UK it’s the right place to be."

Founder, Yotspot

What effect has the pandemic had on the superyacht sector?

In the early months of the pandemic no vessels were allowed to move around so that, combined with flights being grounded, certainly put the brakes on our business.

Overall, the yachting industry hasn’t been affected too badly because in some cases, yachts were being used as a safe haven. Some crew were on permanent quarantine just in case the boss came on board.

In terms of industry as a whole, the order of new yachts has never been higher. The industry is getting bigger and the yachts are getting bigger. The Monaco Yacht Show last year was the largest it’s ever been in terms of numbers of yachts present.

What are you working on right now?

We’ve been expanding Yotspot to include shore-based roles. There is a bit of a disconnect with the guys working at sea on yachts and those in design, shipbuilding and the supplier side. We’re trying to connect the two and provide some synergy.

We’ve also launched a new platform called villarecruit.com which is for private staff for estates of high net worth individuals; this complements the superyacht sector.

We’re about to launch youtspotconnect.com a social proximity app to help connect those working within the luxury yachting industry.