#humansofyachting – Burger van der Walt

Burger van der Walt

#humansofyachting – Burger van der Walt

Burger van der Walt

#humansofyachting

#humansofyachting – Burger van der Walt

The captain of Perseus3 on sailing yachts, surfing and sunscreen.

By Dominique Afacan | 3 June 2019

“I come from South Africa but I went travelling through Europe in 1997 when I was just 18 years old and ended up in the South of France. I got a job on a three-masted schooner called Creole and ended up doing five years on there. I realized during that time that I wanted to make yachting my career. I soon got my Yachtmasters and started teaching sailing whilst studying at university back in Cape Town. After that, I returned to yachting in Europe and focused on getting experience on the larger-sized sailboats.

Superyachting is a very professional industry to work in these days. It’s become very regulated and it’s possible to have a very rewarding career. It’s not just a gap year activity anymore. It can be hard to find crew with experience of bigger boats – but because it’s quite a niche thing to do, everyone knows everyone, which is nice. I joined Perseus3 in 2013 and took over as captain in 2016. She is a great boat for charters – she sails amazingly and her size means that you can get everyone involved. The owner wanted a boat that could cruise the oceans, but that was also capable of winning the regattas. He was very involved in having her race-ready, and she was built to a race specification, which is pretty rare for her size.

#humansofyachting – Burger van der Walt

Perseus3. Photo: Jeff Brown | Breed Media

#humansofyachting – Burger van der Walt

Perseus3. Photo: Jeff Brown | Breed Media

There is a real family atmosphere on board. The owner of Perseus3 is very involved and really cares for the crew and this has helped create this feeling. Over the years you start to work out further ways to create that vibe. I have some rules when it comes to recruiting that help make that possible. For example, I wouldn’t hire more than three people of the same nationality – anymore more than that and others start to feel left out and language barriers can become a problem. Many of the guests who charter Perseus3 are families and so they really appreciate that ambience. We also get guests who are used to motor yachts and want to test the waters on a large sailing yacht. The atmosphere is crucial no matter who is on board.

#humansofyachting – Burger van der Walt
#humansofyachting – Burger van der Walt

Perseus3 is a solid racing yacht too and it was great being part of the first few regattas. After two years of training and sailing with the same race crew, we managed to achieve the first in class for the Loro Piana regatta in the British Virgin Islands. Everyone involved realised what a good team we were and how well the boat could perform. This was also the case with the 2019 St. Barths Bucket. All the race crew returned and the spirit and camaraderie was incomparable. We sailed as a team and the event and experience is something I will never forget.

I’ve sailed to a lot of places but the Galapagos and French Polynesia stood out for being so untouched and beautiful. As soon as you approach you really start to notice the abundance of dolphins and sea life. It’s definitely somewhere I want to go back to. I like to surf and actually managed to do that in Galapagos. There were fish jumping over my board – so you do start to wonder what else is below you! It was a great experience. I did the same in French Polynesia. There aren’t many people that get out there, so when you surf, it’s mostly just you and perfect waves.

#humansofyachting – Burger van der Walt

Antarctica

#humansofyachting – Burger van der Walt

Antarctica

Since I started sailing, I’ve noticed a big change in terms of ocean pollution and over-tourism, especially in the Mediterranean. My crew is very conscious of being as green as we can be. We use ocean-friendly products, recycle as much as possible and use reef-safe sunscreen [sunscreen chemicals may cause coral bleaching]. I’ve noticed more conversations happening around all of this across the industry, in the yachting press and at events. It’s the talk of the town these days, which is a good thing.

The Northwest Passage and Cape Horn are still on my bucket list along with Antarctica. They might be the chillier areas, but I have seen plenty of the sunny destinations over the years!

Get a taste of the superyachting good life at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show from 30 October to 3 November 2019. Get your tickets here.

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