New Kids on the Yacht

Oceanmax’s Chris Gibbs is the newly appointed chairman of the Young Professionals in Yachting’s New Zealand chapter. We take a look at the organization’s growth over the years and where it’s headed.

Chairman Chris Gibbs addresses attendees at the YPY's recent launch party at Auckland Viaduct Harbor

Chairman Chris Gibbs addresses attendees at the YPY's recent launch party at Auckland Viaduct Harbor

The Auckland stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race provided the perfect backdrop for the launch of the Young Professionals in Yachting’s newest chapter. On the evening of March 15, the networking group held a well-attended meet-and-greet at the Volvo Pavilion overlooking Auckland Viaduct Harbor, a truly inspirational setting for a club with big aspirations.

YPY NZ's recent launch party at Auckland's Viaduct Harbor
Prospective YPY NZ members mingle at Auckland's Viaduct Harbor


The nonprofit organization, which has chapters in Germany, Monaco, England and the Netherlands, offers land-based marine industry professionals under 40 “somewhere to share their experiences, struggles and wins with other likeminded young professionals,” says Chris, international sales manager of Oceanmax, the makers of Propspeed foul-release coating. The founding of the New Zealand chapter represents a logical progression and a passing of the torch by Oceanmax’s national sales director for the Americas, James Maitland, who stepped down as president of YPY’s South Florida chapter in January of this year.


YPY got its start in Fort Lauderdale in 2008, and James joined the organization in 2013, becoming its third president in 2015 and serving on the international board during the final year of his term. He continues to serve the Fort Lauderdale board in an advisory capacity.


“It was an honor being president, and I’m extremely proud of what the board and the organization have accomplished over the past three years. If you surround yourself with great, likeminded ‘make it happen’ professionals, amazing things can happen.” 


James describes the new Fort Lauderdale board, now helmed by Samantha Weiler, as “a well-oiled machine poised to accomplish a great deal in 2018 and beyond.” Recently, they raised just over $5,000 for the victims of the February 14 Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting, a tragedy that hit close to home. In 2018, James will continue to assist with events and activities and support the New Zealand chapter, which he is “very excited” about.


“It really takes the right person to get a new chapter going, and we are all thrilled with the enthusiasm and hard work that Chris has put into making it happen. I can’t wait to see what they accomplish in their first year.”


“James Maitland was a great help in setting up YPY and has been a great advocate,” says Chris. On his reasons for proposing the creation of a New Zealand chapter, he says, “Growing up in the Bay of Islands, it was natural that I would be passionate about the marine industry and, as all Kiwis are, extremely proud of our country. Once I learned about YPY International through James, I realized this was something that not only New Zealand but the whole world needed to grow the quality of our future leaders. Because of my love for the industry and New Zealand, I took it upon myself to make it work.”


Chris credits the YPY NZ board, comprised of Stacey Cook, Andrew Clouston, Isla McKechnie and Kit Carlier, with the group’s early success. This brings YPY’s total number of chapters to six, with the leaders of each chapter forming the board of YPY International, who collaborate on ideas for seminars and international growth strategies.

The YPY NZ board, left to right: Andrew Clouston, Stacey Cook, Kit Carlier, Isla McKechnie and Chris Gibbs

The YPY NZ board, left to right: Andrew Clouston, Stacey Cook, Kit Carlier, Isla McKechnie and Chris Gibbs

But networking is more than just collecting business cards; YPY is purpose-driven in its approach. “One of the points of YPY is to grow young professionals so that, by the time they reach 40, they are in a strong position to move their career to the next level, whether it be to run a division of a company, sit on a company board or run the company itself.” Another key point of YPY is fostering greater diversity within the marine industry. 


“James has now reached his time to move on from YPY, but as all good YPY members do, he is moving on to greener pastures and now sits on the board of the United States Superyacht Association. As for me, my journey has just started, and I can’t wait to see YPY NZ and its members strive in what is a fantastic time for the New Zealand marine industry.”




By Anna Ngo

Oceanmax International

Blog post published 22 March 2018