My path into the amazing world of superyachts began in 1986 when a good friend of mine, Jerry Thompson, recognised that my skills learnt in shaping and building wind and surf boards could be very usefully transferred to the realm of fairing and painting 12 metre America’s Cup racing yachts. These yachts had a “no hollows” rule that made the accuracy of fairing critical.
The rule was rigorously measured by a feared class surveyor armed with a straight edge and a sliver of sliding steel tape measure that served as a feeler gauge. This informed him whether the merest hint of a hollow may or may not be agreed permissible. It was an intriguing challenge that taught me a great deal! Happily, I can assure you there were no hollows on the Kookaburra or Azzurra yachts racing in Fremantle in 1987.
Following the 1987 cup we moved to servicing the fairing and painting needs of many of the maxi sailing yachts of the time along with other inspiring projects created by the larger than life characters such as Raul Gardini and Gianni Angelli amongst others.
1991 saw Jerry relocate to Australia with his Australian wife and young family. As a result the natural progression was for me to set up in Europe as an independent contractor and so “Jacksons” was born. Decades later, I remain proud that a significant number of the key applicators and consultants working in our industry today began their careers at “Jacksons”.
1991 till 2016 had us fairing, painting or re-painting close to 100 significant superyacht projects and progressing from a starting team of 12 to over a 100 at times. We operated a tight operation and only used staff trained in house. We fully project planned and scheduled our activities and where productively using MS Project from as early as 1997.
There is nothing to quite equal the focus of having your name on the bottom of a substantial contract to make you look extremely closely at every aspect of application to minimise the possibility of mistakes. After all, with the contracts and sums involved, your home may depend on it!
It’s fair to say that I have a somewhat restless and adventurous spirit. The safe, secure, reliable, career that my parents envisaged for me as the path to a happy life was not a vision that ever inspired me.
To this end, I’ve undertaken many adventures and continue to do so. The most memorable, and life changing challenge, of them all began when I first signed a contract to fair and paint a 40m superyacht for a fixed sum with little real idea of quite how accurate my guesstimate of cost was.
Ultimately, I retired from the application business in 2016 and took up ultra-cycling as a new adventure around the same time.
Today, consultancy work on some of the very finest yachts afloat keeps life very interesting and rewarding.
As one very wealthy owner once said to me, as if sharing a great pearl of wisdom, “You have to keep going”. Billionaires don’t ever really retire, perhaps we shouldn’t either…