Popular and highly respected superyacht refit and services expert in Singapore, Scott Walker, responds to questions about his background and how he came to be one of the founders of the Asia Pacific Superyachts Company and decades long Asia Pacific Superyachts Singapore Managing Director.
Question: Please share some of your personal background and how you came to work in the yachting business.
Answer: I grew up on a dairy farm in upstate New York during the ‘60’s & 70’s and left in 1984. I attended the state university of New York at Cobleskill, finishing with a degree in agricultural engineering. I got involved in yachting in 1983 and started doing bare boat deliveries with a man met at a boat show, from Camden main to Antigua. We did several of these trips and I got off on St Thomas and then sailed on to Singapore.
I sailed with this vessel for over six years from St Thomas through the lesser Antilles to Venezuela then the Panama Canal. We did the Galápagos Islands, Marquesas, Tuamotus and Society Islands, Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore. I did a refit on our boat in a yard in Singapore and once I stepped off the yacht I started working there.
Question: How did your role as a leading agency for superyachts in Singapore evolve?
Answer: I finished the project above and started working for myself when I returned to Singapore; doing shore based engineering for visiting yachts and some local yachts. We found yachts arriving in Singapore wanted to know: ‘…where to get and how to buy and can you please get for us’, which more or less led us right into doing our agency work.
We began getting involved in larger yachts in the mid-nineties and our first project was a 50M motor yacht, Mosaique. As project coordinators on Mosaique we worked directly with the Captain on a complete remodel of the sun deck and crew quarters along with various other jobs. We spent two years working on this project with some owner usage in between. This project launched us into the arena of the larger yacht services… and we never looked back!
After working with others as a network for procurement of supplies and handing off customers between Singapore and Phuket we branded to Asia Pacific Superyachts as a new and separate entity. We (APS) have emerged after a decade of hard work as Singapore’s premier agency and Asia Pacific’s premier superyacht services network.
Question: In what ways has your client base and services changed in past 5 years?
Answer: As the younger Captains are now emerging on the larger vessels we are finding more and more control is being taken on by the management companies, thus creating the requirement for value added services as clients are becoming very conscious of costs. We now are doing cost projections for the vessel’s stay, which would normally be the Purser's job onboard. We are finding that no matter what transpires the captains will not accept extra costs.
Question: What would you describe as Singapore’s most compelling attributes in attracting Owners & Captains?
Answer: As the regional hub we have in Singapore the shipyards, class societies and registry offices. We have a high level of engineering prowess to call on and we provide a tax exemption service. It’s easy to ship into and change the crew, holidays etc. in Singapore and there are crew training facilities as well. We also have first world healthcare.
Question: What unique services and care does APS offer that sets it apart?
Answer: We (APS Singapore) offer a superior level of service to the yachts due to our port knowledge and personal relationships with the port authorities. On tap is my experience as an engineer and my relationships with the shipyards and all other aspects of services needed.
We’re on a first-name basis with all the relevant authorities and support companies and well-known and respected members of the marine industry in Singapore and Malaysia. Through our APS network we can set forth a seamless journey through Southeast Asia and the Pacific regions of New Zealand, Fiji and Tahiti.
Question: What are among your biggest challenges?
Answer: It’s challenging at times when we are met with unrealistic cost expectations and/ or lack of interest in understanding how we need to make things work in order to provide the best services for our clients. But we are up to the challenge and have formed good and long lasting professional and personal relationships with many of Captains and Owners visiting Singapore as well as with our providers
CONCLUSION: Looking at the big picture of challenges to visiting superyachts to Singapore and South East Asia, Walker explains, “Local, European and American investment for this kind of leisure is growing and key inhibitors for visiting yachts will be mostly borders. By that I mean the differing immigration procedures in different countries and the laws and regulations in the countries around here. Some countries such as Malaysia and Singapore are very easy to deal with, but there are others – Indonesia and Vietnam in particular – that have various issues to consider and it’s a greater effort for yachts to get the cruising permits and visas.”