By David Robinson

A call for greater flexibility from class and regulatory bodies on new product development was made at a conference on refits held in Palma yesterday. It also included a warning to superyachts registered for more than 12 passengers to meet the new wastewater treatment regulations.

The ‘Future of Refit & Repair’, organised by Quaynote Communications, attracted around 100 delegates. Superyacht Business was the media partner for the event.

In a session entitled ‘Interior Design for Superyacht Refits’, Joost Mertens from Vripak, called for more flexibility in developing new products from class and regulatory bodies in terms of futuristic materials. The feeling was that such bodies were restricting the use of new materials because of their rules being not geared as much as they could be to modern products and related manufacturing, construction and technological developments.

A session entitled ‘Paints/Coatings and their Application for Refit, Repair and Maintenance’, led by Ken Hickling, global brand manager for Akzo Nobel, covered some similar points. This sector has a growing diversity of products and research, the results of which can impact upon quality and cost of finishes and coatings for superyachts.

In respect to onboard wastewater treatment systems covered by Resolution MEPC 227 (64) coming into force as of January 1, 2016, superyachts that have not met the rules could be prevented from visiting certain key cruising areas. This warning was given by Mark Beavis, managing director of ACO Marine.

“When it enters into force, Resolution MEPC 227 (64) will have an enormous effect on the way superyachts manage their wastewater,” he told the conference. “With the increasing trend towards expedition-type cruising, especially in ecologically sensitive areas such as the Southern Ocean, the Amazon and the Bering Sea, the new IMO rules could have a significant impact on a yacht’s future field of operation.”

In a keynote presentation, Rob Papworth, chairman of the ICOMIA Superyacht Refit Group and project director of CompositeWorks Refit Yard in France, explained the results of a recent survey among its 10 refit yard members. From September 2013 to August 2014, the group handled 853 projects, representing about 20% of the total fleet over 30m (98.5ft). The breakdown of these was as follows:

Size                        No of projects                           %

30m-50m                       419                              49%

50m-70m                       123                              14%

70m-100m                       66                               8%

100m-plus                        13                               2%

Unspecified size              232                             27%

This means that 11% of the world superyacht fleet from 30m-50m was handled by members; 25% of the 50m-70m fleet, 47% of the 70m-100m fleet and 36% of the 100m-plus fleet. As to the revenue performance and expectations of the group, in 2013 its members handled €224m of work, rising to €332m in 2014. But a fall to €300m is anticipated for 2015. This is possibly due to one member handling a large eight-figure refit in 2014.

Other conference sessions addressed contractual and commercial issues and the role of the project manager. In the former, the value of the ICOMIA standard framework contract and codes of practice were underlined. In terms of the role of the project manager, their contribution in getting refits through on time and on budget was discussed.