By Robert Wielaard

Superyacht sector professionals were encouraged on Thursday to embrace a brand new Registered Marine Coatings Inspectors (RMCI) course designed to end arbitrary paint job inspections that only trigger disputes between builders, painters, managers and owners.

The first, five day RMCI course concluded on the eve of the International Superyacht Coatings Conference being held at the RAI Centre in Amsterdam. Several conference participants said the course was long overdue. “I come across more paint disputes than is good for the industry,” said Tony Allen, a partner in the British commercial law firm of Hill Dickinson. Until now there were no specific qualifications for superyacht coatings inspectors. That has led to “a vicious circle of blame,” said Allen.

The RMCI course came about at the instigation of the International Council of Marine Industry Associations (ICOMIA), and the Superyacht Builders Association and the International Council of Marine Industries (SYBAss).

Mike Schwarz, head of RMCI, said he “was shocked” the superyacht industry had continued for so long without clear rules on paint jobs that can easily cost $3 million. The rationale for the new course is that as superyachts get more numerous, bigger and pricier, owners, brokers, builders, yards and suppliers all stand to gain from common norms and  more predictability in how coatings are judged.

Schwarz said the RMCI surveyors will review coatings using universally accepted industry standards. The course includes two written and a practical exam. Its curriculum spans more than 200 pages. The emphasis is on an inspector’s independence and role in driving forward quality by providing advice on coatings selection, application and performance levels. RMCI surveyors get an ID card valid for five years, can add a RMCI designator behind their names and will typically work for boat owners or their representatives, paint or insurance companies, yards and builders.

Already three RMCI courses are planned for the first half of 2015 – one each in Southampton, Genoa and Hamburg. Schwarz expects three more courses, perhaps also in the US. “I call on the superyacht industry to adopt, support, promote, implement and adhere” to creating more predictability in coatings surveys.

Superyacht coatings quality has been a ‘hot issue’ since 1990. Worldwide new yacht deliveries rose by 60% in the 1990s and by 90% in the 2000-2008 period. “That sort of growth led to difficulties in maintaining paint quality,” said Joop Ellenbroek of Ellenbroek Coating Solutions Ellenbroek. Since 2008, deliveries have fallen which also affected quality.  “In shrinking markets, prices are under pressure. And when prices go down, often so does quality,” said Ellenbroek.  /