What’s your career background?
I was born in Antigua and my dad built a hotel called The Inn at English Harbour, which is where I spent many of my childhood years. I went to boarding school in the UK and upon completion of my education I became a charter yacht captain. My career as a captain and my presence at the hotel over the years meant that I knew many people in the yachting business from charter brokers to charter company owners and so on, as many of them stayed at our hotel regularly. It was my background and networking ability that led me to the role of Chairman when the opportunity arose.
How did you come to be Chairman of ACYM?
In early 2004, the founding family of the charter show - the Nicholsons - decided to sell the show, and as a number of us in the industry considered it a national asset, we understood the importance of keeping the show in Antigua and this led to the start of the ACYM. Having a congregation of yachts come to Antigua in early December as the season is kicking off is great for local businesses and the island’s economy as a whole, and we wanted to ensure that continued.
As I knew everyone in the business and knew who to approach for support, I was voted in as Chairman by everyone around me. Both myself and the Board of Directors are voluntary members as we are a not-for-profit organisation, so we all do it for our love of yachting and of Antigua. After taking over the show, we wanted to try a slightly different approach, and so we created the new format and renamed it the Antigua Charter Yacht Meeting. Other shows were primarily held to sell yachts, but our show was really more of a ‘meeting’ as our main aim is to gather people together from across the industry to network, work together and learn about each other’s offerings.
What does your role involve?
I’m very hands-on with the show, I answer every question I’m asked and respond to every email that comes through, and I work with my fellow directors to make policy decisions and with the Secretariat Team to implement these policies. As I’ve been in the role for 20 years, I might soon be starting to think about passing some of my duties over to someone else and we’ve recently engaged a Show Manager. We attend all the different shows across the globe and these shows could definitely benefit from a new face to represent ACYM, someone more industry-involved to network effectively and so on.
What parts of the role do you enjoy most?
My main aim has always been to ensure that the people attending the show are happy, enjoy their time here and get what they need from the show. As we’re a not-for-profit, the whole point really is making the event a positive one - both for those attending and for the people and businesses of Antigua.
What challenges do you face?
The biggest challenge is the number of Caribbean islands that want to take over our show! I understand why; we’re blessed with our beautiful location and fantastic harbours - our show is the envy of the Caribbean! We’ve had to fight off quite a few other shows on neighbouring islands to ensure that our show continues to be the show to be at. I’m proud to say that so far we’ve managed to keep them at bay and retain our clientele which is great for Antigua.
The other challenge that we face is the question hanging over us as to whether a physical show is still the best way to network and liaise with others in the industry. The pandemic made for a very difficult couple of years but the consensus is that a physical show is still the best way to go - it’s still important to see each other, meet new people, make new contacts and for brokers to experience the yachts for themselves first-hand so that they can effectively recommend them to their clients. I’m pleased to say that people are still very much pro-show!
What are you most proud of regarding the show?
As previously mentioned, I think our biggest achievement is that we’re still here! Having fought off hostile takeovers and survived the challenges of Covid, the fact that we’re now onto our 63rd year and still going strong is fantastic! The latest show saw us get back up to pre-pandemic levels, and what a great show it was. Everyone that attended enjoyed it and I’m incredibly proud of our entire team; what a great achievement!
What are your plans for the coming year?
In January we go through the debrief from last year's show, and will now start reaching out to people in the industry to make any adjustments and improvements for next year. We’re constantly looking to clarify that what we are offering is what everyone wants. From May we’ll be getting ready to open registration, talking to the industry and getting further feedback. From June onwards we’ll be in full show mode, getting all the preparations underway - the countdown will be on! We are working on having Destination Village(s) in Nelson's Dockyard as a way for brokers to learn about different areas, for example, the Pacific Islands. We also have a Sail Day on December 9th which is a great experience for brokers.
Why is the Antigua Charter Yacht Show a great show to attend?
Our location is fantastic both in terms of how idyllic it is and our geographical location, and this means that we get an excellent mix of yachts and brokers wishing to attend. We always offer a wide selection of yachts for viewing and provide an opportunity for people to network with others that they may not have had the opportunity to meet at other shows. ACYS is a fantastic networking event with a great atmosphere. There’s nothing quite like putting a face to a name you’ve been liaising with over email, especially when it comes to booking a charter. People find it very useful. It’s great for our attendees to be able to view all the yachts and on top of that Antigua is an amazing place to visit!
Why is it great to be part of the show?
I'm a born Antiguan, and the show continues to be a great thing for Antigua. It’s almost like a national asset and to keep it here and keep it running successfully is what drives us. It’s essential for bringing money into Antigua to ensure the continued success of our local businesses. It’s lovely to see familiar faces each year too - both friends and colleagues - and it’s great to see the place really come alive! It’s a fantastic way to kick start the season and I’m proud to be part of that.