Racing In His Veins

We sit down and buckle up with Captain Sean Read, M/Y Elixir
By Jill Bobrow,

Is what they say true, about being in the right place at the right time?

“My route into yachting was via Formula 1,” says Sean Read, British captain of 180-foot (55-meter) Amels Elixir. He was working with the McLaren team in the late 1990s, driving a truck to Grand Prix events with the team’s supplies—a kind of logistics manager. During an off-the-cuff conversation with David Coulthard, Read learned the championship driver had just bought an 80-foot motoryacht.

“I asked him if he needed a chef aboard, and soon I ended up as his chef/deckhand,” Read says.

Read parlayed that job into other seasonal yacht jobs, and eventually worked for the Saudi Royal family aboard their Golden Fleet.

“I started as captain aboard the 100-foot sportfish Golden Osprey, running alongside Golden Odyssey and Golden Shadow,” Read says. “Working with Merchant Navy personnel for the following seven years helped shaped me as a captain. There is a natural hierarchy aboard a yacht. I believe a good captain should be firm but fair. I have an open-door policy: Any of my crew can come talk to me at any time.”

Captain Sean Read

Read (now 51) originally saw his life going a different way. As a young man, he worked in engineering and construction before deciding to pack it all in and go traveling, working in hospitality and as a dive-boat chef in Australia before taking the Formula 1 gig.

Today, aboard Elixir, he has landed the ultimate sweet deal. Read shares the position of captain with Simon Ladbrooke. They each have 10 weeks on and 10 weeks off.

“This is the holy grail of rotations,” Read says, as it obviates burnout and allows for variation on the job. This summer, for instance, Read will be off all of July and August to spend time with his wife, 16-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son.

Once again, Read is in the right place at the right time. 

Captain's Confidential: The Secret to Success

"The secret to any successful charter yacht is a great team," he says. "It’s as simple as that. Perhaps most important is a fantastic chef for crew and guests alike. It’s written into my chef’s contract that he/she knows how to make the perfect cup of tea, and that there shall be at least [6 pounds] of vintage, mature cheddar cheese on board at all times, otherwise he/she is off!" —Capt. Sean Read

For more information: y.co, or any charter broker

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