The founder of Ocean Media talks about her love for the superyacht industry, her drive to highlight ocean conservation, and her experience of how owners are making a huge difference away from the media spotlight.
I love the smell of boat resin. I love seeing how these stunning vessels are created from nothing to become exquisite floating homes. I’ve been blessed to be a part of such an incredible industry for so long, dipping my toe into the world of yachting with such exceptional people, many of whom I count as personal friends. I have relied on their trust, and they mine, and it has provided stability in an industry that has seen its share of highs and lows.
I grew up in New Zealand and remember fishing trips with my grandfather on Kaipara Harbour on the boats he built. I also remember, on a deep sea fishing trip with my parents around Tutukaka, surprising everyone by catching a 125kg blue marlin! I watched the exploits of the late, great Sir Peter Blake in the 1980s, spent time mixing with Whitbread Round the World sailors in the 1990s, and was in New Zealand for the America’s Cup defence of 2000. I was in Australia working for a New Zealand boating magazine when I met my business-partner-to-be at a superyacht luncheon during the Sanctuary Cove boat show in 2004, and we came up with an idea for a magazine. One year later, at the same show, we launched the first edition of Ocean magazine and Ocean Media was born.
I bought my business partner out in 2016, and we have just published issue 100 of Ocean – which is now Australasia’s leading luxury yachting lifestyle magazine. We also publish Sails magazine and the Great Southern Route cruising guide for superyachts heading down this way to explore all the incredible experiences the southern hemisphere has to offer, and we offer a concierge service to superyacht owners, among many other things. Ocean has brought me into contact with so many yacht owners, as well as giving me a platform to raise awareness of and call for action on ocean conservation, something that is very close to my heart.
For superyacht owners, the ocean is their playground so most are very keen to help support and protect the environment in any way they can. It’s a passion of mine too. I start with the impact everything causes – pollution, plastic – and I think that’s something we all need to be more aware of because everything goes back into the ocean. A lot of yards are taking steps to improve the footprint of yachting, and there are some that are pushing more technology and actually trying to bring about the change quicker.
I think owners are far more aware. A lot of owners I know won’t allow any plastics on board, and certainly no plastic bottles, and it’s really good to see. And I’ve seen that over 20 years, and it’s really started to change in the last 10 years. You see a lot more owners making the change now.
In general I think a lot of owners do far more behind the scenes than any of us realise, because a lot of them don’t want to be in the media spotlight so they just don’t tell us what is actually going on. But when you talk to the superyacht agents and the people who are dealing with them, you discover how much they’re actually putting towards communities. Paul Allen (the late co-founder of Microsoft) was a prime example. He and his yacht, the 126-metre Octopus, spent so much time around Papua New Guinea, and he put so much money into the communities and the mapping of the country. He loved it there and spent a lot of time up in that area and in Indonesia.
There’s so many owners that have put in a huge amount of money locally. The owner of the 73 metre Dragonfly – which was built at SilverYachts in Western Australia – has put a huge amount of money into the Pacific Ocean communities; he’s put nurses and doctors on board the yacht and vaccinated a lot of the remote communities. There’s so much that happens that isn’t talked about and I think there are some great stories that need to get out into mainstream media about what these owners are actually doing.
A prime example is the help that yachts provide and the organisations like YachtAid Global that tap into that resource, and what they’re doing with the owners who are nearby whenever there are catastrophes around the world. You see all the superyachts and the owners have said, “Take my boat, fill it up with emergency assistance, water and whatever you need.” There’s a lot of that – there are a lot of superyacht owners who assist, and sometimes the superyachts are the first ones at the scene. There’s always someone medically trained among the crew, too.
I love the people in this industry – I think our industry is full of very passionate, caring people. So many have become my good friends over the past 20 years, and that’s what keeps me going. I am a bit of a perfectionist and I love producing a quality product. But our industry is very unique, and there’s nothing better than going into a yard and getting to a look behind the scenes of how these yachts are built – it’s something which I really love. And how could you not love the boat shows for meeting up with everybody and seeing the latest and greatest on show? And of course I love the people I work with, my team – you want to work with people you really enjoy working with, because the hours are far too long not to be enjoying what you do!”