We caught up with Lead Skipper Neil Malcolm to get an insight into The Yacht Week through a 'salty' person's eyes...
The Yacht Week: Before kicking off - If you could choose some background music for people to listen to while reading this interview, what song would you choose?
Neil Malcolm: Nina Simone - Sinner man - Felix Da Housecat House Mix:
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TYW: Where do you live and where are you from?
NM: I was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland. I like to move around but for the past 6 months, besides skippering in the BVI's, I've been working in Whistler, Canada.
TYW: If you had to describe yourself in a quote, movie or book, what would it be?
NM: 'Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb' - 1964 (A Classic...)
TYW: How did you get involved with TYW?
NM: I was part of a charity cycle, with Yacht Week photographer Sam Bénard and two other friends from Leeds University, through Croatia 3 years ago and loved it - started looking into a group holiday there for my uni friends - found TYW - was blown away by the video - got a group together but unfortunately it fell apart due to commitment issues. I then found the Skipper Academy, applied, passed, and got the job!
TYW: What is the day to day of this job?
NM: Get up early most days, start on the clean up from the previous night, and turn the engine on to wake up the crew ;) Then I have to get the trash off the boat, pay the marina fee, grab the boat papers, and set sail! I usually head to a bay or stop somewhere to relax, recover, and swim. For the last stretch of the day, I take my crew to the next spot and settle for the evening to party!
TYW: What has been your favorite moment while on TYW as a Skipper?
NM: Leaving Vis, Croatia, at 4.30am straight after the beach party and watching the sun rise with my Australian crew en-route to the Blue Caves.
TYW: What are your favorite spots on TYW and why?
NM: Vis, Croatia - good to get there early - head to a restaurant/the beach/wine tasting - then get ready for the evening - a few drinks on the boat before going for an amazing meal at Villa Kaliopa - then back to the boat before heading up to an amazing open air event at Fort George.
Hvar, Croatia - two days in Palmizana marina - relax at the tree top bar the first night in preparation for the craziest party of TYW the following day - beginning with 'Skipper Breakfast' in the morning and then its "Happy Hvar Day!"
Virgin Gorda, BVIs - Located right next to Richard Branson's private island - Virgin Gorda is a beautiful resort to take your crew for their mid-week recharge. Lots to do and amazing Food!
TYW: What are the best parts and the worst parts of being a skipper?
NM: First of all the positives far out weigh the negatives. I love the camaraderie between all the skippers - I enjoy the simplicity of sailing to an island to party on it then doing the same thing the next day. Being able to kill your hangover early in the morning with a jump off the boat - most importantly though, there is no other place you can meet a bunch of new amazing, young, like-minded people from all around the world, with whom you forge strong lifelong friendships with, built around the shared experience of TYW - an experience that is never forgotten. I revel in the knowledge that I am playing my part in creating these great memories for people week after week. With TYW on the most part attracting young professionals - I now have a wealth of business connections that I can call upon for advice in the future. The negatives are often small things that you can you can nip in the bud before you set off. Things like: advising the crew all to chip into a group fund to cover all expenses (fuel, food, skipper food, drinks, marina fees), which saves arguments later in the week and makes sure they know to FEED THE SKIPPER! Blocked toilets can also be an expensive issue - its important to let crews know that toilet paper does not go down the toilet.
TYW: Why did you decide to learn how to sail?
NM: It was something that interested me at school - but it was TYW video initially and then the opportunity of Skipper Academy that drove me to get my skipper license.
TYW: Is it hard to spend seven days in a boat with people you don't know?
NM: On TYW?? Not at all! Everyone is there for the same reason - to experience the best week of their lives. It's a great feeling when a crew welcomes you in and offers you your first drink - you become part of their group. You share everything including the experience.
TYW: I assume you love partying and you love the ocean, but what specifically makes you want to be on TYW?
NM: The People. Beyond my Yacht Week staff and skipper friends, I get to meet a whole new batch of fun energetic people each week that become friends for life. Anywhere I go now there will be at least two or three people there that I know. There is no price you can put on that.
TYW: Why should people come to TYW?
NM: For a life changing experience that will open their horizons