After meeting aspiring crew through her company KNOT Yacht Services and receiving lots of questions, Alice Baker and her friend Courtney TeWhiu noticed a gap in the market for aspiring crew in New Zealand. This led them to start KNOT Superyacht Academy in June 2023.
“We want to give those interested in starting a career in the industry the best opportunity to learn the ropes and landing their first job on board,” TeWhiu says.
Baker and TeWhiu have both have had long and successful yachting careers. TeWhiu has been chief on a 50-meter and had lead service roles on vessels up to 87 meters, and Baker started as a stew on a 43-meter but found her place on board cooking on an Atlantic crossing. Their passion for the industry, desire to share it, and seeing others succeed drove them to start the academy.
KNOT Superyacht Academy offers internationally recognized yacht certification by International Yacht Training, meaning students walk away with credentials that stack up overseas on their resumes. As the industry becomes more and more competitive, it’s important for crew to start their careers with a good baseline.
“What makes our academy unique is the courses we teach are highly interactive,” Baker says. “We provide a mixture of theory and practical that make the courses highly beneficial and enjoyable for the students.”
Currently, they offer a five-day superyacht interior crew course with VHF radio. Starting in 2024, the academy will offer Powerboat level 1 and 2, advanced cookery, Ships’ Cook Certification, food safety and hygiene, operating full-time with each course running at least once a month. While most courses will be in person to ensure students learn the hands-on skills for each course, some will be available online.
They have studied and trained in the manner they deliver the course content, so it’s taught in an engaging and conversation-based learning environment. “The courses’ practical elements are set up as exact replicas of an onboard experience,” TeWhiu says. “We have excursions, specialists, and live Q&A sessions from current Kiwi yacht crew.”
The message they’re hoping to convey is that working on board yachts is a career and a team effort, but if you do it correctly, it can set you up for the future, Baker shares.
KNOT Yacht Services takes care of a fleet of luxury pleasure craft, where students can get hands-on land-based experience keeping interiors up to superyacht standard, plus they have day and extended charters on offer, and crew also work at marine industry events. The academy also provides recruitment and works with overseas agencies that will help place crew in jobs directly from NZ.