Chief Officer Mairin Hunter

Chief Officer Mairin Hunter

Mairin Hunter is part of the 3.9%* of female Chief Officers in the yachting industry today. She’s forged an incredible career and shares with us her experiences, hopes, and dreams. Her tenacity truly shines through, contributing to her success at every turn. 

Mairin, can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you were lured into the superyacht industry?

I grew up on Terrigal Beach on the NSW coast of Australia. I became a surf lifesaver at a fairly young age and always had a love for the Ocean, then I just had to find out how I could make it part of my career. It was actually my school friend in Australia that told me about yachting. I followed him out to France about a year afterward and we both still work in the industry today as Chief Officers. 

You joined the industry back in 2010, that is quite the stint! What has been your secret to staying in yachting for the long haul?

I don’t really have any secrets, it’s a tough job at the end of the day. One that takes you away from loved ones for extended periods of time in completely different time zones and missing some major life events. It’s about being able to accept those days and appreciate the good ones onboard and the experiences you are having and the knowledge you are gaining whilst working. I personally, love the everyday challenge of this job. Not one day is ever the same and being at the mercy of Mother Nature most days means you are constantly thinking on your feet and still having to maintain the standard of the yacht, motivating the crew, and if on a trip, maintaining the guest’s experience.

We’d love to hear about your journey from a Deckhand to a Chief Officer, did you find any significant challenges along the way?

I didn’t really have any major challenges, the first few months attempting to be a female deckhand with no prior experience was tough. I was like every other green deckhand arriving in France, male or female, not having a lot of actual yacht experience it took me longer to land something. When I did eventually get something, day-working for 6 months in a shipyard on a 30-year-old Feadship, stripping everything back and putting it together again. I stuck it out. I soaked up everything I could and had a great team who were willing to teach me. Things only went up from there to a new build 90m Feadship in 2011. There are always challenges, and I don’t believe they will ever stop, and if they do, I should probably stop!

Did you have a mentor or a role model that supported your career progression?

I have been lucky to have had many mentors and some great role models, good and bad, throughout my journey. My very first ‘Big Boat’ captain has always been a sounding post for me and continues to be to this day and someone who I have great respect for. I believe everyone I have worked beside has given me something, positive or negative, to take away and shaped me in some form into the person I am today. 

Having a significant amount of New Build experience, can you tell us what’s the most challenging part of your role as Chief Officer with a New Build?

I think the overall management of the yard relationship and getting the most out of the final product would be the biggest and most time-consuming. Knowing which battles to pick and which to hold on to. I love seeing the project come together and making that maiden voyage, it’s a great sense of achievement. The final stages of the build are chaotic and you need a good team beside you. 

I have had some great companies assist in builds that have an extensive naval architecture background, this has definitely made the experience slightly easier at times and taken some of the pressure off. 

You have an impressive resume, what have been some of your career highlights?

It would have to be the circumnavigation I completed on Plvs Vltra in 2017-2020, incredible owners, crew, and itinerary. I am not sure that trip could be re-lived if I tried. We had some incredible challenges and made memories I will cherish for a lifetime. 

Other than traditional yachting courses – has there been any other training that has helped you in your role today?

I completed and Senior Leadership and Management course last year. I met some great people on it and we shared a lot of experiences. I took a lot away from this and believe that all senior crew should take some further form of this course as it’s something that’s missing from yachting. We learn about the nautical and scientific side of yachting but not the management and leadership of the people and the running of a multi-million dollar asset. 

What advice would you give to young crew who are looking to follow in your footsteps?

Be motivated in learning and taking the tough jobs and making the most out of them. Not needing to progress too quickly, the more experience you have in the junior and middle levels, the more rounded crew member you will be when getting to those senior levels. 

And finally, where to next for you?

Hopefully another new build and then a drive of my own in the future. 

Mairin Hunter

Thank you for sharing with us Mairin, we wish you all the best in your future endeavours!

*According to She of the Sea