The Crew Take the Spotlight at the Newport Charter Yacht Show

7 July 2023 By Lauren Beck
Billy Black, courtesy of NCYS

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.

With cool, crisp temperatures and sunny blue skies, the Newport Charter Yacht Show was a delightful escape from steamy South Florida. This year, the show was also presented by The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investment, and Aviation, which hosted a seminar to share updates on the area. The docks were bustling with the 14 participating boats and accompanying brokers and vendors.

“The brokers, suppliers, marina staff, and especially the crew are the backbone of yacht chartering and what makes the onboard guest experience amazing,” said Winnie DeCoster, who helped organize the show crew contests. “Here at Newport Charter Yacht Show, we create an atmosphere where crew from the participating yachts meet, mingle, and leave with a dock full of friends that they will see all over New England during their summer season.” From tablescaping competitions to a chefs’ contest, to deck skills, the crew contests are always a success at the show, incorporating both professional skills and a little fun.

The winning chefs: Chefs Johan of M/Y Unbridled, Stephanie of M/Y Freedom, and Nicole of M/Y Unbridled

A chef contest is challenging at the best of times. But who doesn’t like to spice it up by competing with your sous chef on board, too? Chef Nicole Ackerman of M/Y Unbridled was obviously up for the challenge, claiming first place in the chef’s competition. The contest was sponsored once more by Shoreside Support, who supplied a basket of mystery products, and then chefs competed in a quick-fire skill challenge to determine who would get to select their protein first. The chefs were asked to create three platters of hors d’oeuvres using the supplied ingredients.

Ackerman dreamed up an amazing menu that wowed the judges. “The brief was challenging because there was a lot of ingredients given to us and we had to try use as many as possible,” Ackerman says. Her raw board included razor clam ceviche, mango and heirloom tomato salsa, avo crema, and salsa verde. She also created masa-seared scallop on the half shell, and a butter-poached Spanish prawn in a charred pink pineapple and red curry sauce. “My razor clam ceviche was born for the competition,” she says. “The masa scallop is something I tasted at a restaurant in Austin while traveling around the U.S. in my RV. I’m a sucker for anything corn and the texture and flavor the masa gives the scallop creates a perfect crust to a delicate scallop.” Second place in the contest was claimed by Chef Stephanie of M/Y Freedom, and Sous Chef Johan of M/Y Unbridled placed third.

Chief Stew Karly, Second Stew Jess, and Third Stew Jade of M/Y Mirabella and their winning table.

“I thought it was a really successful competition,” says Cole Bettony of Shoreside Support, who along with Executive Chef Kevin Des Chenes and USSA President and former yacht chef Kitty McGowan, judged the contest. “I thought all the chefs did a great job — to get products less than 24 hours before and to be able to put composed dishes and that many hor d’oeuvres and flavors together and to have that variety of proteins and then zero in and execute. Overall, I thought they did an excellent job. I was really happy with the contest — it was a lot of fun.”

While the chefs shone in the galley, the interior team created some stunners to showcase their table design talents in the Tablescaping Competition. Judge Cheryl DiGennaro of Newport Yacht Interiors had a tough task evaluating all nine entries, but it was ultimately Chief Stewardess Karly Hinkebein, Third Stewardess Jade, and Second Stew Jess of M/Y Mirabella and their Enchanted Garden themed table who were crowned best table. “I wanted it to incorporate lush greens and soft pastels, plenty of cute plants, and flowers like you'd see if you imagine a fairytale forest,” Hinkebein says. “I love these competitions because it gives us an excuse to add a new theme night for future guests!” Chief Stewardess Erin Brown of M/Y Spirit captured the fan favorite with her stunning pink table embodying a modern floral fusion interpretation of the Amalfi Coast and New England.

Chief Stew Erin of M/Y Spirit and her fan favorite table.

What table would be complete without an accompanying cocktail? Nine yachts also entered the Signature Cocktail Competition, sponsored by Espolòn Tequila, and Chef Ranada Riley claimed victory for the second year in row with her Azure cocktail. (For her recipe, check out our Chefs’ Corner page.)

The deck team also had room to shine in the Captain and Deck Challenge, where crew from seven yachts competed in a fender inflation, floral design, and yoga challenge. (We did say professional and fun!) M/Y Sea Axis were the ultimate victors, but First Mate Sehan of M/Y Lexingtonhad the fastest time of 44 seconds in the fender inflation contest, and Deckhand Christine of S/Y Kaori had such an impressive flower arrangement that a guest took it home.

The crew of M/Y Serenity compete in the yoga challenge.

While it may not have been the last night, the Yacht Hop was the perfect venue to showcase the amazing entertainment talents of each vessel, from the live music aboard S/Y Kaori, to the lively Sea Axis, to the Disco theme on M/Y Serenity, which won the Herman Pundt Best Yacht Hop award.

After a hectic three days, the show closed with the ceremonial honking of the horns at 5 p.m. on Thursday — we can’t wait to see how next year compares. See you there!

The crew of M/Y Sea Axis won the Captain/Deck challenge.

See all our show photos in our Facebook album.


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