Report on the International Superyacht Coatings Conference

The third International Superyacht Coatings Conference (ISCC) drew around 100 delegates to this prominent business-to-business event. With the theme of “driving quality, ensuring success”, the conference took place on 11/12 December and was organised by Amsterdam RAI in association with the International Council of Marine Industry Associations (ICOMIA) and the Superyacht Builders Association (SYBAss).

Specialising in superyacht coating processes and related rules and legislation, ISCC has become much more than just a conference and networking event. Delegates are encouraged to participate and contribute, not merely spectate; and they certainly did just that at this year’s event!

The two day programme was expertly chaired by Tony Rice from ICOMIA and was supported by an eminent line up of speakers and expert panels to back them up and to discuss some of the hot topics and issues that were raised.

The opening session, entitled ‘Coatings Aspects of Yacht Management: Contracting and Delivery’ brought a fair degree of intense opinion and much debate. Moderated by Tony Allen of Hill Dickson LLP who said that the superyacht industry drew more litigation than any other industry he knew of. The ‘fall guy’ was Patrick Renar, Head of Technical for Edmiston, who spoke of the confusion that he’s experienced from the lack of regulations and standards, the accepted 40 per cent reduction in gloss that hull coatings undergo in two years, combined with the cost of the paint. He concluded that the situation as he sees it to be unacceptable. Delegates responded to his criticism strongly saying that the situation is far better, more managed, less risky and indeed even better for the environment than at any time in the past.

Next up was a session entitled ‘Inspection and Assessments’. It covered the new Registered Marine Coatings Inspectors course moderated by Mike Schwarz and comprising a panel of Joop Ellenbroek, Rory Marshall, Robert van Tol and Gordon Bailey. Experienced surveyor, Rory Marshall, who had just completed the inaugural RMCI course said; “It’s what the industry needs.”

“Having certified inspectors and yard representatives means there is more control and more structure which can only increase the sense of professionalism in our business,” Marshall said.

Delegates enjoyed an Amsterdam canal trip from the convention centre to the city centre followed by a walking buffet at the famous West Indisch Huis.

The second day brought more excellent presentations and discussion. It began with a presentation from Trevor Solomon of AkzoNobel, who spoke about driving innovations and benefits in today’s world. A debate followed about why the superyacht industry has not yet adopted the new low solvent coatings that are now available. Whilst the products are available, the demand it seems is still not there and no definitive conclusion was reached.

Albert Willemsen from ICOMIA spoke about mitigating the demands of legislation. The latter part of day two was given over to understanding the ISO standard, in particular ISO11347 that governs the superyacht industry and also the ICOMIA guidelines. The final session considered the measuring quality of coatings.

The superyacht industry remains something of a cottage industry that seems to have yet fully matured in some aspects. It continues to cry out for further improvements and standards to be developed. All in all a thoroughly thought provoking two day conference that allowed participants to make their points of view well and truly heard.