During the Monaco Yacht Show, the Yacht Club de Monaco organised its 23rd Captains Forum in partnership with insurance company, Ascoma Maritime. An annual event, it brings superyacht captains together to socialise and share experiences, and is an ideal opportunity to debate topical issues that affect them.  

As a Club which holds a unique position in the global luxury yacht industry, this year the YCM wanted to bring these key players together around two themes:

  • preservation of the marine environment through a pivotal topic for the future – noise pollution
  • training professionals, with a presentation on new courses offered by the Yacht Club de Monaco’s La Belle Classe Academy training centre.

Gathered on the Yacht Club de Monaco’s terrace overlooking the YCM Marina, captains were invited to discuss the impact of “20,000 noises under the sea”. Professor Michel André, Director of Applied Bioacoustics Laboratory at the Technical University of Catalonia, BarcelonaTech (UPC) gave a fascinating talk on the impact of manmade noise on marine wildlife.

It is a fact that thousands of species, for whom sound is the only way they can communicate, orientate or locate food, are increasingly being disturbed by sound waves from shipping, drilling, offshore construction and even pleasure boats which mask the natural sounds of the ocean.

In their talks which followed, Captains Sean Meagher (M/Y Latitude – 52m), Michael Zerr (S/Y A – 143m) and Fraser Gow (M/Y Gene Machine – 55m) questioned the expert on solutions and technologies available to reduce their sonar footprints, for example “smart ears” or noise sensors that can be used to map areas most affected. The discussion also looked at legislation and programmes in place to return to a “correct” sound level, with measures like requiring noisy vessels to bypass protected areas and the international LIDO (Listen to the Deep Ocean, http://listentothedeep.com) programme. This acoustic measuring software instrument provides a global approach to marine noise pollution, helps governments legislate and supports industry players in their efforts to reduce their acoustic signature.

“Sound is synonymous with life in the oceans. To pollute this vital channel of communication is to condemn the ocean to an irreversible imbalance,” says Professor Michel André. “We already have advanced technologies at our disposal to analyse and mitigate manmade noise pollution and return to a sustainable acoustic balance for future generations. To achieve this we need everyone to support us, and big yachts have a vital role to play. Not only can they collect data by recording soundscapes in less accessible regions, but also by setting an example for large ships by employing quieter engines with less impact on marine biodiversity.”

Superyacht captains on the panel of experts for this 23rd Captains Forum welcomed the idea. As Michael Zerr (S/Y A), pointed out: “Contributing to the body of scientific knowledge has become a necessity and requires all those involved in the sea to participate”.

As for Captain Sean Meagher (M/Y Latitude) he stressed the need for technical measures to help minimise our acoustic footprint in the oceans. While the large yachts may not be major contributors to noise pollution, they have privileged access to the remotest of regions which gives them added responsibility when exploring these last pristine corners of the planet.

Ascoma Maritime, partner for this event represented by Nicolas Mior, highlighted new EU legislation adopted to achieve healthy marine systems by 2020, including a provision to ensure underwater noise does not “adversely affect” marine life. “Vessels can be made quieter,” he says, “by raising engines off the vessel floor or using propellers designed to reduce cavitation – the creation of tiny bubbles that pop loudly when they explode.” He also pointed out that most measures designed to quieten a vessel go hand in hand with improving fuel efficiency.

Discussions continued in the YCM’s La Belle Classe Academy training centre where new courses for 2019-2020 were presented. In a bid to meet the needs of yachting professionals, new courses continue to be added to the programme:

  • Monaco Weather Lab, introduced by Navimeteo’s Gianfranco Meggiorin, the purpose of which is to give candidates a better understanding of meteorological data when sailing.
  • Environmental Training for Yacht Crews (ETYC), which aims to educate crew members on the ecological footprint left by their boat and includes waste management and using everyday products in a more eco-responsible manner, led by Claire Férandier.
  • Risk Management training day in partnership with Ascoma Maritime, on the different insurance schemes and requirements and risk prevention for private and commercial yachts.
  • Changes to the Polar Code by Yan Pearson.
  • “Destination Barman”, with instructor Giorgio Rocchino, winner of Best Barman in Italy and 3rd in Europe; the Art of Service on board being a speciality of this training centre dedicated to excellence on board.


Next Captains Forum: September 2020 as part of Monaco Ocean Week, a highlight of the day being the YCM La Belle Classe Superyachts Explorers Awards. For more information, please contact Cristina Ruiz, YCM Superyacht Relations Manager by email: c.ruiz@ycm.org