Owner’s Rep Takes on Yacht Management

By Andrew Johansson

There are many challenges owners’ representatives face during the course of a yacht build, however, when the project truly pushes the boundaries of innovation and technology, the pressure can be extreme.

It is an experience all too familiar for Derek Munro, the owner’s representative for 106m sailing yacht Black Pearl. The former skipper and engineer knows the pressures well and has successfully overcome the challenges of his position on more than one occasion. Munro speaks to us about his latest venture and how we are likely to see a second project from the owner of Black Pearl.

I was the owner’s rep during the build of Black Pearl, which was a very interesting project and now the client has asked me to manage the boat,” begins Munro. The Kiwis sounding Scot has been involved in 14 new build projects, along with refits, gaining a vast amount of experience and contacts he believes will benefit his clients. “So I set up a new company called Divergent Yachting and I’ve taken on a team to deliver the services expected. We are now looking to managing other boats.

It is one thing to manage the build of a yacht and another to manage the day-to-day operation of the vessel but Munro is confident in the ability of his team to deliver a superior experience that differs from the norm. “The client [of Black Pearl] has entrusted us to do everything because I was involved in the build and I was a technical back-up. So I am probably better placed than anyone else to manage the boat,” says Munro.

One of his key team members — and the man in charge of all things ISM (International Safety Management) related — is Dave Goldie who has worked on a number of new build projects for shipyards such as Lurssen and has a strong naval background. “We have quite a diverse group within the team, which is why we went with the name Divergent. We bring experience from different industries and apply it to suit whichever vessel we manage,” says Munro.

For the owner of Black Pearl, Munro is the right man to ensure his 106m superyacht is kept running smoothly. It requires trust on the part of the client and captain, which has been met with all aspects of the vessel having been accounted for from SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) through to crew training and certification to accounting requirements.

“I have been extremely impressed with the professionalism of Divergent Yachting…,” reveals Captain Chris Gartner of Black Pearl. “The one to one service they provide is superb and a nice move for yacht management. A dedicated management team for each yacht provides a bespoke ‘immediate response’ service rather than a team looking after 10, 12 or 15 or more yachts.”

It is the smaller, limited number of yachts on the books that Munro wants so as to not compromise on the more personal and attentive service Divergent Yachting offers. The aim is to keep to the management of 10 to 12 yachts depending on their size and to ensure that each boat or every two boats have one DPA (Dedicated Person Ashore). “So a client can ring up and speak to one person and they should know exactly what they are talking about in relation to his boat and crew, and how everything is going depending on how much of the management they ask us to do,” says Munro.

Knowing your fleet inside out is something most, if not all, management companies will claim, however, Munro’s aim is to enhance the enjoyment of yacht ownership. Every owner is different and the way in which they like their yacht to be managed will vary but Munro is confident in what he has to offer.

I don’t think any one of us management companies will be ‘the be all and end all’, and the 'greatest of everything' because, as you’ve just pointed out, every client is a bit different,” says Munro. “I just hope that a few people would rather have the personal service and be associated with a team that has been involved in projects such as Black Pearl. And I say that because we have learned a great deal about what is out there technology-wise that I don’t think a lot of people have seen yet. And to that extent, my client is looking at a new boat because we still have stuff we haven’t put on this one.”

When pushed for more details about the possibility of a second Black Pearl, Munro was unable to divulge any information but we’re sure it won’t be long before we hear news of a new build project. Until then Munro and his team will continue to manage Black Pearl and push to sign more yachts, although not too many.

We would prefer the boats that we manage be 70m to 90m or above because that is the growth market,” says Munro. “Having said that, we have just put in a proposal for a little Amels 55 — a boat we have built and know all about. It is these types of boats we are looking at and is the direction we are going with Divergence.”

"I don’t think any one of us management companies will be ‘the be all and end all’, and the 'greatest of everything' because every client is a bit different."

Derek Munro


"I don’t think any one of us management companies will be ‘the be all and end all’, and the 'greatest of everything' because every client is a bit different."

Derek Munro
By Andrew Johansson