Asia Pacific Superyachts long time Tahiti resident and genial French Polynesia yacht support specialist, Etienne Boutin, opened up about why after 25 years he continues to be so enthused about superyachts coming to Tahiti.
Q. Why are you in the yacht/superyacht service business today - after so many years?
A. I started servicing yachts in Tahiti 25 years ago and have seen all sorts of beautiful yachts since then, including the largest, tallest and prettiest, seeing them inside out, on the dock, under sail or on the hard. But what kicks me up in the morning is to meet the people in or around them.
Our challenge as an agent is to gain the captain's trust and create a positive drive which in turn can improve the owner's experience of our destination. This is exactly what I like doing: rising up to that challenge with every captain and hopefully passing the test.
Q. How much of a yacht’s itinerary do you set up?
A. When yachts arrive in Tahiti, I like to spend some time on the charts with the captain; to talk about where to go and what to do. Captains also check with others that have cruised our waters before.
I often work out very detailed and personalised itineraries but experience shows that guests change them so much that they are mostly used in early planning. When guests are on board it takes a lot of flexibility and teamwork from the crew and our team to absorb all the last minute requests and make the changes in the smoothest way possible. That is a nice challenge too.
Q. Give us 3 ‘must experience’ activities / attractions in Tahiti.
A. French Polynesia is possibly one of the most preserved diving destinations in our world where pollution spreads everywhere. We don't have plastic here dispersed in the environment like in many places and our fishermen never used dynamite or cyanide.
The quantity of fish, rays, turtles or sharks is just incredible, especially in the atoll passes.
Second, whale watching is a stunning experience. Not many destinations allow a boat to approach these giants closely with a guide and in warm waters. It is difficult to describe the feeling you can get when snorkelling with a 20-ton animal but it is a mix of wonder and fragility.
As a third choice, I will place the experience of the local culture. Especially the Tahitian dances. The original culture in our islands has survived the cold era of European missionary control and is now booming with young people keen on practising every night to participate in the "Heiva" dance competitions in July. Some groups display more than one hundred dancers and musicians in shows that tell ancient stories and it is a marvel to the ears and eyes altogether.
Visiting yachts can offer this experience to their guests whereby we can arrange for dancers coming on board and also onto private beaches we rent for the occasion.