As the 54 metre superyacht Parsifal III returns to screens for season three of Below Deck Sailing Yacht, her owner Kim Vibe-Petersen talks through the realities of filming a reality TV series on board his boat.
Below Deck Sailing Yacht is a spin-off series of the hit superyacht reality TV show Below Deck that follows the lives of the crew and guests across an eight-week charter season. This week, producers confirmed the show will return for a third season of crew drama and on-the-water antics with Perini Navi sailing yacht Parsifal III in the starring role and Captain Glenn Shephard at the helm.
For Danish owner Kim Vibe-Petersen, Parsifal III's return is yet another opportunity to show off the yacht's charter credentials. Vibe-Petersen was personally approached by Below Deck producers in 2018 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.”
For her second season, Parsifal III was filmed cruising Croatia's 3,600 miles of coastline. This season, the show will follow Parsifal III as she cruises around the Spanish island of Menorca, carrying a mix of new and old crew. Returning faces include chief stew Daisy Kelliher, chief engineer Colin MacRae, and first mate Gary King while new chef Marcos Spaziani will grace the screen for the first time together with second stew Gabriela Barragan, third stew Ashley Marti and deckhands Kelsie Goglia and Tom Pearson.Read More/How much does it cost to charter a Below Deck yacht?