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  • Writer's pictureLidija Jakovljevic

Meet Captain Stefan Räbisch, a superyacht captain known for his command of iconic superyachts such as the 105-meter Lady Moura and the 95-meter Madsummer. Stefan's approach to yachting is both practical and personable, focusing on safety and attention to detail while fostering a sense of trust and respect among his crew.

In this interview, Captain Räbisch answers questions about what a typical day looks like on board a 90m+ superyacht, what sets a good captain apart from an excellent one and what his thoughts are on the future of yachting.

1. What initially drew you to a career in yachting, and how did you progress to your captain position?

Captain Räbisch: It all started with a power boat course during my school days, more than 30 years ago, followed by joining a local sailing school. After completing my social year working at the sailing club and rebuilding an old schooner, I was inspired by a newspaper article where they were looking for German captains in the merchant navy.

Four years later, after graduating from a university of applied sciences in merchant maritime studies, I started working on a 5 star Tall ship - a sailing cruise ship as 3rd Officer. This was setting the base and interest for the hospitality sector.

My professional career took me through all different kind of vessels from container ships, ferries and the very interesting German scientific research vessel “Meteor”.

One day a call from a former shipmate gave me the opportunity to step onto the legendary motor yacht “LADY MOURA”. My first contact with the yachting industry thats now more than 15 years ago. On “Lady Moura” I stayed for more than 8 years and worked my way up to the Staff Captain/ Relief captain position, and since 2016 I've been captaining both private and busy charter yachts.

Lady Moura superyacht by Lidija Jakovljevic
Lady Moura Superyacht | 105m (344ft) | Blohm + Voss

2. What does a typical day look like on board a 90m+ superyacht with guests on board?

Captain Räbisch: A typical day revolves around a well-structured routine and efficient crew management. We have the luxury that we have enough crew to run a 24hrs operation, having a night shift cleaning the exterior from top to bottom during the night.

My day starts early in the morning with rounds of the yacht. I make sure to visit every department, including doing a tour of the engine room. I then greet the guests during their breakfast, and by that time the crew has already set up the complete swim platform already, with a long line of water toys ready to go.

From then on time is slipping through my fingers and you quickly find out that you never have enough crew for the daily operation. The day is filled with water sport activities, shore runs, beach setups, restaurant and beach club reservations and frequent location changes. Not to forget that the location can change two to three times a day, which means packing up all the toys each time.

Once the sun is down everybody is exhausted and it's time to lift anchor and set sails for an overnight run to the next beautiful location in order to start the in the morning with another busy day.

Madsummer superyacht by Lidija Jakovljevic
Madsummer Superyacht | 95m (312ft) | Lürssen

3. As a winner of the ACREW Award for The Best Captain Master Unlimited, what do you think distinguishes a good captain from an excellent one?

Captain Räbisch: Beyond the non-negotiable priority of safety, it's all about building and leading a team. A captain needs a strong crew behind his back.

As captains, we are often asking a lot from our team and always pushing them to the limit. That's why you will always find me working alongside my crew. They know they can ask for my help anytime, especially when they are short on hands. You'll see me assisting on the swim platform, as well as forming part of the human chain during large provisioning efforts. This approach has always been appreciated and helps me to build a closer relationship with my team. I need to observe how operations are running, and this isn't possible from the captain’s desk with a coffee in hand.

We live in a confined space for extended periods under challenging conditions, surrounded by a variety of personalities. This requires considerable tact to resolve internal issues. I maintain an open-door policy, where crew members are always welcome to discuss their problems and ideas. Consistently motivating the crew is crucial. I strive to lead by example and spread positive energy every day.

4. What are your thoughts on the future of yachting, especially for large vessels?

Captain Räbisch: I believe the trend towards building more explorer yachts will continue. This doesn't necessarily mean they will travel to more remote places, although that would be great.

We are likely to witness significant advancements in green, energy-efficient yachts. Yachts have always been trendsetters and pioneers in new technology. I can also envision a market for large sailing yachts, as they have the potential to travel carbon-neutral.

The political developments and the rise in extreme activism against yachts are somewhat worrisome. Many people underestimate how much capital yachts are creating across various global sectors.

I would love to see more yacht crew members engage in charitable activities occasionally. It would also be admirable for owners to deploy their explorer yachts in delivering aid where it's needed.

Quick-Fire Questions:

Favorite sea to navigate:

Norway & Swedish Fjords. ⛰️

Coffee or tea in the morning?

Black coffee. ☕️

Most challenging weather condition you've faced?

Two weeks of fog on the Pacific Ocean. 🌊

Favourite port to be docked in?

Palma de Mallorca. 🌴

One word to describe your leadership style?

Diplomatic. 🤝

Best way to unwind after a long day?

Music. 🎶

A must-have gadget on board?

JBL Party Speaker. 🕺

Favourite on-board meal?

A good crew brunch with banana bread and pancakes. 🥞

One thing you always tell new crew members?

Stay motivated and feel free to speak to me whenever needed.

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