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Parsifal III: Meet the star of Below Deck's sailing spin-off

19 May 2021• Written by Miranda Blazeby

The 54 metre sailing superyacht Parsifal III has returned to screens for the second season of Below Deck Sailing Yacht, with captain Glenn Shephard at the helm accompanied by an all-new crew. Kim Vibe-Petersen, owner of the 54 metre Perini Navi, gives us a glimpse behind the scenes and opens up about what it's like to film a reality TV series on board his boat.

Below Deck Sailing Yacht follows the lives of a superyacht crew over the course of an eight week charter season and is a spin-off series of its hit motor yachting counterpart Below Deck, which has been running since 2013 and just wrapped up its eighth season.

Vibe-Petersen was personally approached by Below Deck producers three years ago after they struggled to find a suitable sailing yacht. Parsifal III fitted the bill as she was already equipped for charter and a number of her existing crew were willing to take part in the show. The Perini Navi sailing yacht first hit the water in 2005 and rose to instant fame scoring a number of prestigious accolades including a coveted Neptune at the World Superyacht Awards. On her launch she also joined the ranks as one of the fast Perini Navi superyachts on the water with a top speed of 18 knots under full sail granted by two high-tech carbon masts, automated in-boom furling and a winged keel.

Vibe-Petersen admitted there were some yacht owners who didn’t want the names of their yachts connected with the drama-filled reality show, but he “didn’t have that concern.” Although he had the option to change the yacht’s name for filming, he decided to keep it to maximise the charter appeal of Parsifal III

“It’s free advertising,” he said. “The name of the yacht will come to people’s minds, especially to someone who has never chartered a yacht before. They will see that name and know the boat from the show.”

Vibe-Petersen was also keen to secure a guaranteed packed charter schedule during low season. “I think there were a lot of boats that did not want to be chartered for the show but it's good money in the bank,” he said.

While admitting he might not be the “specific audience targeted by the series,” he said he has sat down to watch the first series, which took place in Corfu. Even in Vibe-Peterson’s home country of Denmark, the US show has gained a big following. 

“This is the kind of show where they want to make a little drama,” he added. “It’s not that wild on board a normal charter.” 

The conveyor belt of colourful guests are chosen by the production team and given a “big discount” for appearing on the show.

Vibe-Petersen also explained the complicated logistics of filming Below Deck, each season of which features 16 charters filmed across a period of eight weeks. This means that two groups of guests separately charter the yacht in a single week. Meanwhile, the production team require a time period of at least a week to get Parsifal III rigged up and fit for filming. “There are 30 people on board each day with lots of wires and cameras – it’s a big, big operation."

Season one was filmed in Corfu, Greece, which posed a number of challenges for Parsifal III as the sailing yacht was required to have a specific charter licence. “It’s pretty tough to get that,” said Vibe-Petersen. “It’s not something we can do within a short amount of time. It can take 10 to 12 weeks to get a charter licence so it takes time.” This time around, Parsifal III will be cruising Croatia's 3,600 miles of coastline along with its 718 islands.

Season two of Below Deck Sailing Yacht is currently showing on Bravo.

Images courtesy of Camper & Nicholsons

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