SuperyachtNews.com – Owner – A lesson in transparency
Throughout what has been an incredibly difficult time after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many new construction sites have performed admirably in a harsh environment. SuperyachtNews talks to Jim Ciasulli, owner of 40.8m Rebeca about the challenges of taking superyacht delivery during the pandemic and we discuss the different stages of the pandemic from an owner’s perspective.
“We bought the yacht before the pandemic and took delivery of the project during the pandemic,” begins Jim Ciasulli, owner of 40.8 million Rebeca. Ironically, Rebeca’s model, the Benetti Oasis 40, turned out to be the perfect metaphor for what was needed during the pandemic, our own island on the move. Still, I wonder if I would have made the purchase if I had known what was going on around the corner. “
While the full force of the pandemic was slower to hit the United States where Ciasulli is based, those who followed the news realized very quickly that Italy had been hit early and hard by the pandemic and Ciasulli was perfectly fine. aware of the impact this could have. on his superyacht project.
“Aside from the obvious concern for everyone’s safety, one of my first thoughts was ‘Oh no, what’s going to happen to the yacht’. However, Benetti was incredibly quick in calling me and making sure the work was all going on, whether it was with a much smaller crew on board at all times, ”continued Ciasulli. “One of the great things about Benetti usually is being able to send people and resources to a problem. When we saw the boat under construction initially there would be 30 to 40 people on board at any given time and I think that number has risen to around 10 with social distancing measures in place. So naturally I wondered how they were going to handle the project.
When the severity of the pandemic in Europe first became clear, and due to the unprecedented nature of the crisis, the industry naturally began to discuss the issues surrounding force majeure clauses and the potential for canceling out. contracts, whether due to the global financial recession, breach of contractual obligations by the shipyard and subcontractors, or a mixture of the two. With so many unknowns still in play, spirits had to explore a variety of scenarios, many fearing the worst.
“Although I never practiced law, I studied law. Benetti sent a force majeure letter. Force majeure is practically included in every contract, forgetting whether it is for a boat or not, each contract contains a force majeure contract. You study it in law school, but sometimes you wonder what the point is? Because it is never used, ”explains Ciasulli. “Of course, the pandemic was a prime example of force majeure, it’s usually called force majeure, and it’s force majeure that stopped the rapid building of boats. Naturally, they overestimated the force majeure, they said it was going to be three months, but in reality it turned out to be about 30 days. That being said, the three months were probably the lawyer who covered his ass.
It must be said at this point that no matter how much grace period the lawyers have given themselves, to suffer only a 30-day delay due to the pandemic is extremely laudable on the part of Benetti and, most importantly, of Benetti weren’t alone in this success. Throughout the new construction market, there are similar success stories to be heard. However, a question might arise: how have the resources been used so far? While the situation is anything but ideal, successes throughout the pandemic may have forced manufacturers to become more efficient, as has been the case with various industries and businesses.
“It made me realize that Benetti, unlike other shipyards, can really put resources into a project and get it done, maybe better than anyone in the world, certainly at that time,” says Ciasulli.
While shipyards have managed to function admirably throughout the pandemic, it is important not to overlook the vital role that the attitudes of superyacht owners have played in the successes of shipyards. Sometimes you could argue that the superyacht community overlooks the map that superyachts are an emotional buy, not a commercial one. However, if that drum was ever to be hit appropriately, it was during the pandemic. Indeed, if the world of superyachts had relied on purely commercial reasoning, suffice it to say that 2020 could have been much worse.
“It’s absolutely an emotional decision. It’s more of a need than a need, although I guess during the pandemic you could say I needed the yacht for my sanity, ”Ciasulli explains. “My first reaction was that I didn’t want anyone to get sick to build my boat but I had done a lot of research and spent a lot of time with Benetti before pulling the trigger to buy this boat and their core values matched really. with mine and my businesses and that is integrity, passion and responsibility. I felt their integrity was very high throughout and they are passionate about their projects and this one in particular because it was a huge departure from their typical designs so they wanted this boat to be delivered as much. than me. I could see this, I could smell it and everyone was very happy to keep me updated on the pandemic in Italy and its impact on the works. I was cautiously optimistic that we could spend some time on it at the end of the season and that’s exactly how it turned out.
It is clear from Ciasulli’s tone, however, that he doesn’t think the situation would have been handled as well had he visited some other shipyards for this build and during that time. Having worked on size ranges, he is no stranger to the trials and tribulations of the yachting world. If resources had not been managed so efficiently and if Benetti had not been so passionate or willing to provide updates and information, the situation could have been very different.
When asked whether or not his state of mind may or may not have been different based on previous experiences, Ciasulli comments: “There is no doubt about it. I may have gotten to the point where I canceled the contract. It absolutely depends on the court. In the past I have often been treated like a mushroom … kept in the dark and fed a lot of crap. Benetti was the antithesis of that, they’ve been very transparent with me from the start.
The approach Benetti took throughout the pandemic, at least from Ciasulli’s perspective, is a positive lesson in customer management, owner experience and transparency. After the delivery of Rebeca, Ciasulli intends to use the ship intensively during the summer season with his friends and family, making the most of his own private oasis.
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