Palmawatch reviews ICOMIA Superyacht Coatings Conference

Yacht service specialists Palmawatch, have been reliably and competitively completing refit and repair projects in Palma since 2002. Since then they have serviced over 500 yachts, completed thousands of work orders, and averaged 2 -3 refits per year, specialising in vessels of between 25 and 45 metres.  



During that time the company has developed an excellent reputation for painting and antifouling works, an area of expertise where attention to detail is the key to success.  As Managing Director Pierre Oberon points out; “One aspect of our work, which by definition requires a great deal of trust from the client, is an antifouling project. This is because from the moment the yacht is launched the coating system has to perform almost invisibly, and according to expectations…until the next haul out!”


With this attitude and recognition of ‘trust in quality’ by the yacht owner, Pierre was happy to send a representative from Palmawatch, to the recent ICOMIA Superyacht Coatings Conference on 11th/12th December in Amsterdam.


This forum was the third edition since the inaugural gathering, which was held in Monaco back in 2009 and conceived by a number of very experienced industry experts operating in the marine paint & coatings field.  The group which included paint manufacturers, applicators, yards and inspectors, were convinced that clearly laid down standards and process controls for application and measurement of coatings, was needed in order to better manage customer expectations, and to reduce the number of failures and litigations.


In his opening address to a full auditorium of over 70 delegates, Tony Rice, the Chairman of the ICOMIA Superyacht Working Group, said that the theme for the conference was; “Driving Quality, Ensuring Success.” Tony pointed out that since the coatings group had been formed, they had already responded to industry requests to develop and publish a set of ICOMIA guidelines, these are based on an ISO Standard (ISO 11347), and related to the preparation and measurement of coatings for superyachts.  Another guidance document covering coatings application is also being worked upon for future publication.


The first speaker was Joop Ellenbroek, a well known consultant in the yacht painting industry with 25 years experience in coatings inspection, having qualified as a chemist and worked for leading paint manufacturers Sigma. Joop gave a brief but succinct history of how the commercial demands on painting superyachts had developed since the early 90’s.


Very simply”, Joop said, “the growth in superyacht new builds jumped by around 90%, from 270 vessels in the 90’s, up to 520 in the next decade. Not surprisingly this huge demand led to some quality problems. But from 2008 through to 2014 the number of new builds declined, and as we all know, a shrinking market brings price pressure in its wake.”


Joop also pointed out that the changing of paint formulations for environmental reasons and pressures on applicators to reduce solvent emissions and protect workers better, all plays a part in a technologically developing market that simply cannot stand still. So, lessons are continually being learnt and procedures will need constantly updating to avoid steep learning curves. He ventured that the ‘Green Aspect’ is the future, and that yachting may have to accept lower standards of finish quality, in much the same way that the car industry has already had to, due to the poor flow characteristics of higher solids (lower solvent %) coatings. 


Joop’s presentation perfectly set the tone for the afternoon session which was dedicated to the ICOMIA initiative to train and certify coating inspectors. This creates a recognised qualification which the whole Superyacht new build and refit industry should be able to adopt and employ.


Designated RMCI (Registered Marine Coating Inspectors) qualification, the course and exam is structured and delivered by the International Institute of Marine Surveyors (IIMS.) Consisting of a 5 day course and requiring a pass in both written and practical exams, the training program is up and running, with the first batch of 15 trainees graduating (or not) from the initial course in Amsterdam, which finished just before the ICOMIA conference.


Amongst the many important and detailed points that were presented at the conference about RMCI, one of the most fundamental is that the previous experience of the trainees will be assessed by a four man expert panel, before they are entered into the scheme. It was stressed that this is not a course for training new paint inspectors with no existing qualifications. The entry level is quite high (NACE, FROSIO or Icorr certified), and the objective is to standardise the expertise level, and to improve the consistency of professional recognition for existing coating inspectors in the superyacht industry.


More RMCI courses are planned for UK, Italy and Germany in 2015, and a list of qualified registered Inspectors will be published on a dedicated website, along with other information about the scheme at:   



More details from Palmawatch




Tel: (+34) 871 932 249

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