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Power Play

Scott Wellington-Stones has always had an affinity with the water and the boating lifestyle. Here, he shares with Jeni Bone some of his favourite boating experiences, highlights from his career so far, and the epiphany that led him to swap accounting for yachting.

10 May 2024

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Growing up on the Hawkesbury River in New South Wales, Wellington-Stones’s earliest memories are of attending the Windsor drag-boat races, where his dad and grandfather competed. Never far from the coast or a lake, he too became an accomplished waterman, enjoying every aspect of boating and water sports.

Even so, his path first led to jobs in other industries, including the family business, before he realised that merging his passion and profession was the winning formula.

 

Ocean magazine: How have boats and boating featured in your life?

Scott Wellington-Stones: My first experience with boats was in a bassinet at the Windsor drag-boat races, where my father and grandfather were both avid racers. We moved to the Central Coast when I was six. My grandparents lived on Brisbane Water and they bought me my first boat – a 10-foot tinnie with a 4 hp Yamaha. From that moment, I was hooked!

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My family owned a 46-foot Cresta, and nearly every weekend we’d be out with family and friends with my tinnie in tow. Lobster Beach and Pittwater were the go-to destinations. Then, when I was 12, my family moved to the Gold Coast, Queensland, and the boating lifestyle continued.

Growing up on Sovereign Islands, I had direct access to the water. My love of the water also meant waterskiing after school with my neighbour every chance we could get, and out on the water in the family boat every weekend.

 

What about your education, career aspirations and family expectations?

After completing high school on the Gold Coast, I had the opportunity to live in Japan for six months, where I worked on golf courses owned by family friends. Studying Japanese at school was a great head start for living there and experiencing the culture and country.

I wanted to be an accountant in my early teens, but by the time I’d completed high school and returned from Japan, I’d changed to working in the family mobile-crane business.

I moved into an operations role at age 20, in charge of 40 employees and 15 cranes, which taught me how to deal with clients, meet demands and work with staff in a team environment. The hours were long – I’d start work at 4 am and sometimes not finish until 8 pm. Being a family business, my brother and father were involved as well.

Wanting a change, my next adventure led me to property development. So, I attended a business college and obtained my business management and marketing degree to help set up a platform to enter the property market. During my studies, a family friend invited me to sell boats on the weekends, and I leapt at the chance. Then, at 22, I started as a part-time broker at Grant Torrens International Marine (GTIM). This really got me excited as I was introduced to boats from 25-foot Bertrams to 75-foot Dynas.

I completed my degree and decided this broker thing was something I could tackle, love, enjoy and make a career out of! Looking back over 23 years, having travelled all over the world, selling new and pre-owned vessels up to 120 feet, making many good friends and meeting such a diverse range of clientele, I never would have thought at 22 that this career could create so many opportunities and special memories.

 

Who have been some of your mentors over the years?

Coming from a family of tow-truck and crane owners, my family was instrumental in what is so important – values, morals and ethics, along with the ethos of working hard. I implemented the same work-hard attitude but added work smart.

Something that has taken me a while to control is being 100-percent present with my family, my amazing wife Bec and my beautiful daughter Isabella – the best thing that has happened in my life. She’s two-and-a-bit and loves the water and going out on the boat. Time with them without distraction and being present is important, and sharing time together, especially for an hour or two when I get home from work, is critically important.

Life in sales, especially if you want to be successful, is not 9 to 5. You need to take your watch off, as Grant Torrens taught me. Communicating with clients, studying the market, especially when working on international deals, happens around the clock. But the balance between home, family and downtime is vital.

 

What was your path to founding Yachtsmen International?

After 12 years working for Grant Torrens, Princess Yachts purchased his company and I was then selling new and pre-owned Princess motor yachts. Around five years later, having sold a host of Princess yachts and brokerage boats up to 120 feet and worked at the Sovereign Island Marina for 17 years, it was time for a change. So, Sean Madgwick – one of my best friends I’d worked with for six years at GTIM – and I decided to start our own brokerage company. We’d had a similar upbringing and boating was in our blood. In 2017, Yachtsmen International was born.

We researched where best to set up, and The Boat Works at Coomera was a no-brainer for its proximity to clientele and the support of other boating professionals. We established our office on the waterfront above F arm. It was quite humble beginnings –I remember using Bunnings collapsible tables in the office while waiting for our furniture to be made.

From the start, Sean and I knew we needed to offer our clients a full-service agency to support them through every phase of yacht ownership, from the initial purchase to crewing and on to management and maintenance, as well as providing sales, new build and charter services.

In the field of new-build superyachts, we have an extensive network and ties to leading international shipyards, and we’re expert in helping buyers find, negotiate and manage their new yacht build projects, from shipyard and model selection to delivery and beyond.

The sale of Pazienza was the result of a very successful collaboration between Yachtsmen International and Cantiere delle Marche (CdM) Australia over the last two years.

Our charter department, run by Chloe James, former superyacht crew, puts the client first from start to finish. She creates customised itineraries in the best charter locations, with the finest vessels, menus and service. Led by former superyacht chief stewardess Janita Allwright, our crew placement supports yachts up to 70 metres around Asia, the South Pacific, the US and the Mediterranean, sourcing quality crew from our large database and serving captains and owners worldwide.

Then there’s our in-house team of engineers, shipwrights and detailers who work in our service and refit workshop at The Boat Works. Our goal is to make ownership easy, with a skilled team of professional tradespeople who ensure each vessel is always ready for use, use resources efficiently and maintain the vessel’s future resale value so clients can enjoy their investment.

Over the past six years, we’ve grown an amazing team of 14 full-time employees and three casuals. We are truly grateful to them as without them, there is no Yachtsmen International.

How do you promote your brand and your services?

We spend heavily on boat shows; domestic and international. This year I attended the Palm Beach International Boat Show and the Monaco Yacht Show with clients. The demand for 30- to 50-metre yachts is on the rise, and we’re riding this ever-evolving wave.

 

What does boating mean to you now, in terms of for pleasure and for business?

I’m truly grateful to have had an upbringing around the water thanks to my family, and feel extremely privileged to be able to share experiences and guide our clients into a vessel that’s most suited for their needs.

I’m looking forward to spending a lot of time on the water with my family over summer to recharge for the challenges of 2024.

 

The sale and construction of the 34-metre CdM RJ 115 Pazienza is a big achievement for Yachtsmen International – what’s next?

This was hugely significant for Yachtsmen International, and Sean must take the credit for this.

Our passion and drive are focused on the superyacht arena, and we plan to continue growing the business to become one of the most supporting yacht companies in our region.

There are more, and larger, yacht deals on the table, including exciting deals in the pipeline for yachts up to 160 feet, and we look forward to announcing them as they come to fruition.

 

Post-pandemic, how do you see the market, and what are your expectations for 2024 and into 2025?

Our forecast is positive, regardless of economic fluctuations. The GFC saw some of the best years in annual sales, mostly due to the pricing adjustments. The marine industry doesn’t stop. If world markets do slide, pricing for second-hand boats will be the biggest factor moving forward.

We always look on the positive side of life. No-one has a crystal ball, and the boating lifestyle is always about optimism – good health, good friends and family, and good times.

 

SCIBS 2024

Yachtsmen International will return to Pier C at SCIBS 2024, with a bigger line-up than previous years. Their high-quality brokerage vessels up to 115-feet will include brands such as Horizon, Sunseeker, Mangusta, Princess and Azimut.

“SCIBS represents a superb opportunity to see all our valued clients, to welcome new people to YM, and assist clients both old and new in their search for the perfect yacht that meets all their needs and requirements.”

 

yachtsmen.com

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