#humansofyachting – Sally-Ann Konigkramer
The captain of Lady S has always had sailing in her blood – and her enthusiasm rubs off on all of her crew.
“My dad was always out on the water and so I grew up sailing in Durban harbour as a young girl in South Africa. I was a tomboy and would take trips up and down the coast and take part in races. One of my sailing instructors told me I could do it for a living and told me a bit about the superyacht industry. I took his word for it and left South Africa at 18, having got a job in Viareggio, not really knowing what I got myself into. The rest is history!
I started out as a deck steward and worked my way up. I was lucky that most of the captains I worked for were great mentors and from very early on, I knew I wanted to be in their position. I was a bit of a geek, hanging around in the bridge, reading all the books, always asking thousands of questions. I remember on my first charter, I should have been sleeping but I was on the bridge – I wanted to soak everything in.
At one stage, I even drove the media chase boat at the America’s Cup, which was probably the highlight of my whole career. I was with the cameraman and the presenter and they really go after the best shots – it was such an adrenaline high.
My yacht might be a tiny dot in the wider context of the world but it can still make an impact – I believe I can change the world! I instil that belief in the people around me too. I work hard to build a team of great people who can do great things. I go out of my way to make the crew realise they are important and respected. I empower everyone and give them a platform to put across their opinions – that’s true regardless of whether you’re a deckhand or an engineer.
I have a really good relationship with the owner of this yacht. It was the same with my previous boat. When I left, we both cried. My current owner puts an enormous amount of trust in me, especially given that I haven’t been on board for too long. That just makes me work even harder as I don’t want to let him down.
We are picking up our first charter in Bermuda next week and I can’t wait. I love having guests on board and seeing my hard work being appreciated. We have a really sporty programme so we tend to get lots of young, active charter guests. They are the sort of people that might get up at 5am to wakeboard, it’s that kind of vibe. We’re totally kitted out as a dive boat too – we have an instructor on board and all the equipment. Then we have all the usual toys. I dive, but my real passion is riding my motocross bike or my mountain bike so the first opportunity I get, that’s where you’ll find me.
My favourite destination so far is the Bahamas – I’ve found so many beautiful anchorages there. I love getting off the beaten track. I’ve also just done Key West and the dive sites there off the Dry Tortugas are just breathtaking. I hadn’t realised it was so beautiful. If I was chartering myself, I’d probably choose to go to those places. I still haven’t done any of the really small islands in the Pacific, maybe my next boat will take me there.
The industry has become far more aware of keeping the planet green since I first started out which is great. And there are lots of forward-thinking societies coming out now, including things like She of the Sea [an initiative to promote diversity within superyachting]. I did an interview with the founder Jenny Matthews the other week and we clicked straight away as everything she is doing is right up my street. It’s not exclusively about females, it doesn’t matter what your gender is, it’s about what you bring to the table. When I first started, that sort of thing wasn’t being celebrated – so I am excited to get more involved.”