WHEN Gold Coaster Cameron Bray landed a superyacht deckhand gig while travelling aged 22, he had little inkling the sector would become his career.
But 15 years later, he has created his own thriving superyacht business managing the country’s biggest charter fleet, having started out of his home in Burleigh in 2012.
The 37-year-old is as excited as anyone about this weekend’s Superyacht Rendezvous at Gold Coast City Marina, aimed at promoting the sector.
He spent five years working on board big boats and the past 10 managing superyachts charters for rock stars, movie bigshots, international royalty and Australia’s Packer family.
Twice he’s taken in the Formula 1 Grand Prix at Monaco from a superyacht in the harbour.
While he won’t name names, he says he has helped celebrities avoid paparazzi while on holiday in Australia, including organising “decoy” yachts to go in the opposite direction on Sydney Harbour to fool photographers.
His first job for a Saudi Princess, which he landed walking the docks in the south of France, was also his first big break.
“After a summer season she told the captain she liked me and wanted me to stay,” Mr Bray recalls.
The captain asked what he wanted to stick around and Mr Bray negotiated for them to pay to put him through health and safety and sailing courses.
“I was incredibly humbled and chuffed to be recognised as somebody she wanted to have in her life on a regular basis. But they want familiar faces coming back, wanted me driving the tender, in the water taking their kids wakeboarding and jetskiing.
“So you get that trust and you run with it. It’s one thing to get that opportunity, but the second thing is to do something with it.”
He spent four years working for the princess and did his share of grunt work.
“The term is affectionately known as chamois technician. You have a chamois attached to your hand the whole time, cleaning, scrubbing decks, all the stainless, varnishing, doing paint touch ups. It’s all part of the gig.”
Mr Bray said there was no secret to securing the ongoing work with the princess other than being himself: “I would have a conversation with her the same as I would with one of my friends.
“She liked the fact I wasn’t stumbling over words and getting overawed because she was someone with a title next to her name. She wanted people around who were genuine, transparent and trustworthy and that’s the main thing because they are trusting you with their lives and the lives of their children.”
His advice to anyone wanting to work in the superyacht sector was to do the same and not be intimidated by the wealth or high-profile of owners and charter clients.
“You treat them like everyone else, with respect. You look at the calibre of some of our charter guests and I don’t gossip or put anything on social media.
“At the end of the day they are not calling me up and saying ‘Hey Cam, let’s go hang out on the yacht and get on the gas’. It’s just about you having confidence in your knowledge base and ability and knowing that’s why they are coming to you.”
Nowadays, he’s more on the business side and has seen his Burleigh-based firm flourish from having two superyachts for charter to 15 and recently boosted his staff from two to five.
Last year, the world’s largest superyacht charter and brokerage firm Northrop & Johnson approached him to be part of their first Australian branch which saw him rebrand from Bray Management to Northrop & Johnson Australia.
“Becoming the Australian arm of Northrop & Johnson has propelled us faster along the path we were already on and catapulted the business to a whole new level.”
The married father of two, aged nine and four, sees only upside for the sector in Australia with hopes superyacht visitation will increase from its existing base of about 60 to 70 a year.
And he hopes to grow with it.
“I studied business on the Coast and went overseas to explore the world a bit. I thought superyachts would be fun for a summer. Now 15 years later I’m still involved.”
Ryan Keen, Gold Coast Bulletin
May 20, 2017 12:00am
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