Key Largo Hosts the 21st Benetti Yachtmaster

12 November 2021 By Lauren Beck
The participants at the 21st Benetti Yachtmaster in Key Largo

Lauren Beck is the former editor of Dockwalk and was with the publication from 2006 to 2023. At 13, she left South Africa aboard a 34-foot sailing boat with her family and ended up in St. Maarten for six years. Before college, she worked as crew for a year, and then cut her journalistic teeth at Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies’ Home Journal online. She loves traveling, reading, tennis, and rooting for the Boston Red Sox.

Benetti knows how to do an event in style! I made the trip to Key Largo this week to attend the 21st Benetti Yachtmaster event after a hiatus last year due to COVID-19, joining approximately 80 others at the event. With eco consciousness in mind, Benetti selected Baker’s Cay Resort in Key Largo for this year’s destination. The resort incorporates elements of sustainability throughout the complex.

The Yachtmaster kicked off with a welcome presentation from Benetti, showcasing their fleet models and offering a brief overview of the company, still ranked number one on BOAT International’s Global Order Book for 2021 with the most projects on their books

Chief Engineer Mary and Capt. Ed

For the Owner’s Team Perspective, I interviewed Capt. Benjamin Tellez of M/Y Bacchanal, who shared his experiences with the vessel owner and the build of the 43-meter vessel. Tellez, who has worked for the same yacht owner for 21 years now, shared his secrets to getting along with both owner and yard — communication, and lots of it. M/Y Bacchanal was delivered in October 2019, mostly escaping some of the pandemic’s chaos, although the boat was forced to alter its schedule and remain in Miami during the first lockdown. As Tellez noted, the pandemic’s effects are not over — he shared that some of the vessel’s warranty work has been delayed due to supply chain issues.

After an afternoon indoors, the event headed outside for the first cocktail hour. Captains and sponsors were able to mingle over drinks before heading indoors for a delicious buffet dinner, accompanied by a DJ. While the music was enticing, it was not quite enough to lure the captains onto the dance floor. But the Macallan whiskey demo (and tasting!) went over well with all — as the host explained, it was “dangerously smooth” and it certainly smoothed the way for a late night.

Capt. Benjamin of M/Y Bacchanal, Capt. Antonio of M/Y Seven, and Chief Engineer Youdi of M/Y Marigot

The following morning dived into the fun, all in the name of teambuilding, first taking captains to the docks for a little golf, or at least a little swing practice. Each participant was given a few balls to try to hit one of three floating greens, with points awarded for either a direct hit or a bounce. (Or in my case, no points since I only made it halfway to the first green. I blame my club.) While there were no holes in one, there were likely some very well-fed fish as each biodegradable ball was filled with fish food. Ultimately, Capt. Ryan Frayne and Joseph McCartney of ASEA Power were declared joint winners.

But the fun wasn’t over, so we adjourned to the little beach nearby for a few hours to play around under the water with the SEABOBs. After dividing into teams, each competed along the obstacle course to win prizes. It was a gorgeous morning on the water, but lunch was a welcome respite from the sun.

The afternoon session once again went open air as we adjourned to a nearby tent on the resort for the afternoon workshops. Once again, I hosted the session with Capt. Kelly Gordon, where we discussed her experiences as a female captain and her journey into yachting. Her passion for the job was clear, and even with the challenges she has faced, she strongly advocates for more women to make the wheelhouse their ultimate destination on board. A key component to her journey was the value of mentorship, she says, making her a strong advocate for it for all. While the session had no resolution on how best to encourage women onto the bridge, perhaps the primary takeaway was simply to start a discussion. Other sessions included updates from U.S. immigration attorney Larry Behar, an eco discussion regarding Tier III, plus a look at bridge technology and designs from Kongsberg.

Fox, Capt. Kelly, Capt. Phil, Irina, Capt. Mark, and Tanya

Of course, what event is complete without a gala dinner, and the Benetti Yachtmaster was no different. The themed dinner — white with a touch of gold — brought out everything from the elegant to the fun, including a fake gold tooth as part of Capt. Manuel’s costume. With a decadent dinner, amazing DJ, and the very cool (and popular) 360-degree camera setup that was the source of much laughter and funny videos throughout the night, the participants were primed to party hearty — and they did. With the addition of a few musicians to accompany the DJ, the dance floor lured everyone out to dance out the final evening. And there was plenty to celebrate late into the night.

The last morning dawned early and those so inclined were able to do a little beach yoga to counteract any bad behavior from the previous few days. Others chose to sleep in before a leisurely breakfast to close out the event.

As always, good food, good people, and interesting conversations are the perfect recipe for an event. See you next time!

For more event photos, check out our Facebook album.


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