A Winning Captain of Yacht Charter Fleets
Four Wishes' Captain Aaron Clark is voted Best Charter Captain of the Year
Dec. 6, 2005 08:30 PM
YV&C International Yacht Vacations & Charters Magazine reports:
Captain Aaron Clark’s superb service and attention to detail won him Fraser Yachts’ prestigious title, but the true winners are those who charter with him. In fact, several years ago, one special guest was so impressed with Clark, he hired him away from the boat he was commanding at the time!
On a scale of 1-10, it was a 12!” raved one recent charter guest on a Fraser Yachts Worldwide evaluation form. He was praising his week spent with family and friends aboard M/Y Four Wishes, a magnificent 2004, 144ft Palmer Johnson. But it wasn’t just the yacht that the guest was enamoured with. “The captain and crew were great,” he wrote, “no one could have done anything better!”
It was a collection of remarks such as these that earned Captain Aaron Clark of Four Wishes the title of “Best Charter Captain” for 2005. Now in its fourth year, the competition is open to all captains on vessels in the Fraser fleet that charter in the Mediterranean during the summer. The selection is based on comments from the charterers, and a point system is used to make the final decision. The winner is announced each September at the Monaco Yacht Club during the annual yacht show. This year, more than 50 captains were eligible and many of them were on-hand as charter broker Diane Fraser announced the winner of the prestigious award. “Captain Aaron has been an absolute pleasure to work with,” said Fraser. “Not only has he provided my clients with outstanding service, but he has done it with a smile.” Oddly enough, one of the only Fraser captains not present at the ceremony was Captain Clark! His award, which included a prized Blancpain Aqualung timepiece, “a symbol of absolute perfection,” was received on his behalf by the First Mate of M/Y Four Wishes. Seems the Captain was out on charter at the time—his number one priority, as always, to put his guests first.
Getting His Four Wishes
Clark has been a captain since he was 18 years old. His passion for boating stems from his boyhood. Raised in a small coastal town in New Zealand, he spent much time on the water with his father, a commercial fisherman. He started racing small yachts when he was just 8 years old, became champion of his yacht club for two years running, and went on to sail a variety of larger yachts. Although he learned a great deal about seamanship during his childhood, he says, “My main drive to become a captain was the challenge and feeling of accomplishment in such a diverse job; the personal rewards are very fulfilling.”
Clark’s dedication to excellence, which won him the Fraser award, is the same trait that brought him to Four Wishes to begin with. “My current employer,” says Clark, “was a charter guest on a boat I was on in the Mediterranean in 2001. He was so happy with his experience onboard that he hired me away two months after his charter.”
Perfectly understandable you might think—until you learn that Clark’s new employer didn’t even own a boat at the time! However, he did recognize talent and professionalism when he saw it, and he wanted Clark at the helm of his yacht when he did purchase one. He asked Clark to shop for a vessel for him. “And that,” says the Captain, “is how we ended up with Four Wishes.” Clark has been with Four Wishes since January 2002, when they signed the contract to build her. He was very involved in the build as the shipyard at Palmer Johnson went into bankruptcy when the boat was only 25 percent complete. “The owners and I completed the other 75 percent at the shipyard, which was very challenging, but also very rewarding, to get such a fine world-class vessel,” he says. Four Wishes was launched in August 2004 in Maine, and has been with Fraser ever since.
Did the completion of the yacht have something to do, perhaps, with Four Wishes fulfilled? I asked the Captain where the vessel’s name came from. “It is from the Chinese saying of three wishes,” he explains: “long life, good health, and prosperity. The fourth is an extra wish we added—a wish for whatever the individual wants to wish for in his or her life.”
Welcoming Guests Aboard
Chances are, guests coming aboard Four Wishes are likely to get everything they could wish for-- on a cruise, anyway. The yacht’s spare Japanese-style décor is enhanced with cherry and anegre timbers throughout, black-stained maple floors in the main foyer, and leather flooring in the upper foyer and sky lounge bar area. Below, shoji screens create a light, airy feeling in the cabins. The marble used throughout is onyx, Costa Esmeralda and Galaxy. In the main saloon hangs the piece de resistance -- a beautiful fabric-art piece in the shape of a kimono. Specially commissioned for the boat, it depicts swimming koi in an abstract style, with shades of blue, green, yellow, and orange.
While the vessel’s spectacular interior is indeed impressive, “what really makes Four Wishes stand out from other charter yachts,” says Captain Clark, “is our attention to guests’ needs.” The Captain takes great pride in creating tailor-made experiences for each charterer and his or her guests. “No trip is like any other,” he says, “even for a returning guest chartering in the same area twice.” Once the booking is made, he works closely with the chartering party to ensure that all of his or her needs are met. “Then,” he says, “I go to work on options for the cruise, creating unique activities and experiences according to that particular charter guest’s personality and specific requirements. Once I have the ideas and activities that we can achieve in the area where we are cruising, I go back to them again, and build on the itinerary to make it a suitable and achievable program for both the area and the time allotted for the charter.”