An impulse buy led to the start of a yacht charter company, and the owner of Valencia yachts now oversees an all-male crew. She talks to JEANNE TAI about being in a man’s world.
Watching her totter around One° 15 Marina Club in three-inch heels, it’s easy to assume that the owner of Valencia yachts, 32, is a tai tai heading to a yacht party – until you hear crewmen greeting her with an exuberant “Morning, lady boss!”.
When we board her yacht, the male captain deferentially offers her a drink and says to me: “There’s only one female boss I know in this marina and it’s her.”
A former banker, She left the finance industry in 2012 and became an entrepreneur – the mother-of-two runs a coffee business and restaurant, and started a yacht charter company, Your Private Yacht, last year. It has more than 10 yachts for rent for events and trips to islands in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.
How’d you end up running a yacht charter company?
“My husband and I were at the 2013 Singapore Yacht Show, and we stumbled upon a boat we loved, so we bought it. I used to take it out every month… but you can only go out to sea so often, so I figured, why not rent it out? I bought a second boat and started helping other owners rent out their yachts.”
You’re 10 to 20 years younger than the crew. Is that weird for you?
“We’re really chummy, actually. I won’t challenge their knowledge of the boats, but I’ll tell them if they’re doing something that doesn’t make sense to me. I’m also prepared to set aside half a day every month to listen to their grouses. When they’re out at sea, they don’t have an outlet to offload when they come across stressful situations… so in a way, I become their outlet.”
Was your crew surprised when they found out they had a female boss?
“Actually, many people are surprised by what I do. Even in the food business, female bosses are rare… you can say that I’m in a man’s world. Sometimes, I have to act tough to get the same recognition that a guy gets. But I must be doing something right to be running a few businesses.”
Ever get any wild yacht parties?
“Too many to count! We’ve hosted stag parties and hen nights… once, some of the men and women got tipsy and stripped down to their underwear to swim in the ocean!”
How very like those scenes of debauchery in The Wolf of Wall Street…
“It’s not just wild parties. We once held a funeral on board and the family scattered the ashes of the deceased in the sea. Many people also charter yachts for weddings – which we love! They’re such happy occasions.”
What’s the one rule to observe when you’re on a yacht?
“Don’t trash the boat! We’ve had customers fling wet tissue paper up onto the ceiling and throw birthday cake around. Sometimes, people use excessive amounts of toilet paper, which chokes the toilet. My captain often says that sh*t happens at sea – it’s the truth!”
Any tips on how to get the most out of a yacht party? “Charter the yacht before noon, or from 5pm onward. The hours in between are scorching hot.”
Visit www.yourprivateyacht.com.sg for more information on chartering a yacht. Prices start from $1,900 for a five-hour charter on a yacht that can accommodate 34 people.