We are sitting on the aft deck of the 34 meter charter motor yacht Askari with Captain Claud Akers surrounded by the unmatched scenery of Cook’s Bay in Moorea, Tahiti’s sister island. Captain Akers has kindly accepted to share his incredible experience of our islands with us.
Q: Hello Claud. Thank you for having us onboard! Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are from?
I was born and raised in South Africa and was always drawn to the ocean. In 1999, I sailed with friends on a 34ft sailing yacht from Cape Town to the Caribbean where I then worked on a few catamarans located in the area before meeting the crew of MY Askari located there.
Q: Have you then been based on Askari for 16 years? How long have you been the captain?
Yes, that’s right! I was actually the engineer for 12 years also working as the relief captain now and then. I became the captain of the yacht 3 years ago.
Q: How did Askari happen to come to Tahiti and be based over here for the past 9 years?
Askari came to Tahiti for the first time in 2003 during a 13 month charter from the Caribbean to Australia after the charter our owner asked us which were our favorite Islands and where would we like to see the boat located. The crew unanimously replied “Tahiti”!
Q: How do you explain the success of Askari in terms of charter?
I would say it is because of a “whole package”. Askari is not a typical superyacht. The boat has character that draws explorers / adventurers to her but she has great volume inside, which is a huge asset given the size of the boat. The crew has been the same for many years and our knowledge of the area is excellent. I’m always happy to share all sorts of information with other superyacht captains who have just arrived to cruise our area.
Q: Which role does the Tahiti destination play in the success of Askari as a charter yacht?
It is really hard to beat a destination like Tahiti. It’s all about tranquility, smiles, culture, unspoiled scenery, great marine life and most people speak English.
Q: Askari was the center of a press / fam trip over here with key professionals in 2014. How has this affected your charter enquiries so far (and confirmed charter)?
How much do you think Askari contributed to developing the image of the islands of Tahiti to the industry further to this?
The fam trip was a great exposure for Askari. When you participate in such a program, you have to be aware that the return won’t be immediate. The event came at the perfect time for us. A few months later, I flew with my wife, Emma, who is the purser onboard, to Fort Lauderdale to talk during a dedicated Tahiti / Askari seminar to an audience of about 25 influential charter brokers. A few weeks later, the International Superyacht Society hosted a “Tahitian night” during their Leadership & Design Award gala night and the press coverage for these various events has been excellent. For us, running a charter boat, this could not be a better opportunity and we start measuring the impact now very positively. We also hosted the Canadian final of the TV show “The Bachelor” thanks to Tahiti Tourisme. Again, this has been great added value.
Q: As a yacht captain, what would you say make our islands being sought after by superyachts?
I think definitely the ease to move around from island to island thanks to the efforts made by the local government. It is extremely safe. It is simple to fly in and out both domestic and international. The medical system is very reliable, provisioning is fantastic and the local people are extremely nice and do not pay any negative attention to superyachts being around.
Q: Do you have a preferred itinerary? Preferred activities, which you like to recommend while on charter?
There are all sorts of varied activities. The ones which I like best are the quad bike tour in Moorea, the vanilla tour around Taha’a island. I do not have a preferred itinerary but I would say that Moorea is definitely my favorite island out of all. I also really enjoy going to Huahine and Maupiti in the Society Islands as well as Fakarava and secluded Tahanea atolls in the Tuamotu archipelago.
Q: On a more personal note, what makes this country so special?
This is where I met my wife, Emma! (Laughs). These islands have become my home. We built a house on Moorea although we live on the boat year round. We have chosen to base the boat when not on charter in Moorea’s Cook’s Bay.
Q: What do you like to do when you have some time off?
I love kite boarding on the lagoon whenever I have a chance. I also like to spend time at my workshop at home ashore and fix things… Well, I’m an engineer, you know! I am currently re-constructing an old Jeep!
Q: Claud, if you had to summarize the Islands of Tahiti in one word, what would it be?
More about MY Askari: http://www.myaskari.com