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Why a good project manager is essential to the superyacht experience

6 January 2022• Written by Laura Nicholls for Nicolai Yacht Consulting and Project Management

A successful new-build project is the result of experience and hard work and there are not many who relish the challenge. One company that does, however, is Nicolai Yacht Consulting and Project Management.

Nicola Nicolai

Founded in 2017 by Nicola Nicolai and Serena Bartoloni S.Omer, the company delivers 360° professional, tailored consulting and project management services for the superyacht industry’s constructions and refits. The firm benefits from Nicola's work on over 120 new-build projects alongside dozens of designers for the likes of Italian shipyards Riva and Benetti, while Serena's marketing and business knowledge is thanks to her time working for leading companies in the luxury fashion industry such as Salvatore Ferragamo and Bally.

Serena Bartoloni S.Omer

“When we started Nicolai Yacht Consulting and Project Management there was a gap in the market for us to help new and existing owners develop and fulfil their dream yacht project,” the co-founders explain. Now with three new-build yachts and refits delivered between 40 and 70 meters, five new projects under construction, two major refit projects completed, maintenance management agreements and numerous new yachts in discussion, they take the time to share what they know about navigating a new build project and most importantly, why a good project manager is essential to the experience.

Lead the process

The job of a successful project manager is ultimately to take the pressure of such an imposing project away from the owner, allowing them to sit back and enjoy seeing their superyacht come to life. “There is certainly a business in providing clients with an experience,” says Nicola. “Owners need to be able to rely on their management team, plus the builder’s internal project-management and production team, to ensure that everything is managed in the best interest of the project, budget, quality and time.”

In addition to being supported and guided through the entire process, including contract negotiations, superyacht owners can also rely on a project manager for inspiration. Through experience, an advisor such as Nicolai is able to provide a client with a deeper understanding of the project’s technicalities and in turn, broaden the scope for the project. “It is important for an owner to know what their motivations and expectations are for the project, what are they looking to build and why?” says Nicola. “This information forms the foundations for the project.”

Nicolai Yacht Consulting and Project Management was commissioned for the 69m full-custom yacht Spectre, which went on to win an award at the World Superyacht Awards 2019

Keep your promises

With BOAT International’s 2022 Global Order Book reporting a record-breaking year for new boat sales, it’s become increasingly important to ensure a superyacht project gets completed and delivered on time. “Owners are more interested than ever in quick deliveries to suit their strict holiday and cruising plans,” says Serena.

At Nicolai Yacht Consulting & Project Management projects always have the owners’ best interests at heart. For one of their projects, a 50-metre new build, the owner needed help overseeing the remaining delayed phases of construction to get the job back on track before the summer season started in earnest. Nicola took over the management of the project by redefining targets and deadlines, coordinating the work between the owner’s team of professionals and the builder, speeding up the decision process and aligning the production to the new plan through consistent monitoring and progress meetings and the owner was soon on board cruising the Med as he’d hoped. At the end of the season, Nicola arranged for the yacht to return to the yard for final modifications and completion of the project. “Our job as project managers continue long after the build completion. We always have to be ready to deal with any job, big or small, to continue our service for as long as it is needed,” he adds. “What we aim is to develop with our clients a trustworthy relationship that lasts beyond the yard period by providing them with a lifetime project management and advisory for their superyacht”, says Serena.

The 50m Flying Dagger forms part of Nicolai Yacht Consulting and Project Management's portfolio

Gain a reliable network

To get a job of this size finished on time, it helps to have an extensive network of professional contacts to rely on. “Project managers will always need to work with many other professionals to get the job done,” explains Nicola. “We have our in-house consultants and project managers who have their own specialities to manage a project, but when needed we involve the most qualified professionals in the industry. Whether they are a surveyor, a designer, architect or a maritime lawyer, they will have a proven history to make sure the best service is provided.”

61m Benetti yacht Diamonds Are For Ever worked on by Nicolai Yacht Consulting and Project Management

Keep a broad overview

The final result is reliant on good coordination. Overseen by the project manager, each phase of the project – including the design, engineering, construction and delivery – should be coordinated, synchronised and consistently supervised. This way, everyone involved will have a full and clear understanding of what to do and when and of the expectations and desired outcome.

Covid-19 created a series of unique challenges for owners of in-build superyachts. When the pandemic hit in early 2020, Nicola was midway through working on creating the correct technical specifications for an in-build superyacht. “The client was unable to visit the yacht due to lockdown restrictions, but we managed to keep him involved in the project through Zoom meetings. The project was successfully managed remotely to the owner’s liking and delivered to schedule at the end of summer 2021,” says Nicola. Despite the challenges, the client felt his project and investment were consistently under control and has since appointed Nicolai Yacht Consulting and Project Management for the warranty and maintenance management of his 50-metre superyacht.


Nicolai Yacht Consulting and Project Management is growing fast. Contact the team today to find out how the company’s 360-degree approach to consulting and project management can help your project. https://www.nicolaiyachtconsulting.com



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