On watch with James Potipher

Published 21/08/2020

On watch with…

Name: James Potipher

Position: UKSA Cadetship Manager

Qualifications: OOW 3000gt, RYA Yachtmaster, RYA Advanced Powerboat Instructor, MCA Instructor

Describe your role in ten words

Overseeing the Cadetship, supporting our Cadets to OOWs and beyond

Who inspires you?

I have lots of people who have inspired me in my life, starting with my family who have been very supportive in anything I have done. Always with a give it a go attitude, you will never know till you try.

Instructors who first taught me how to sail & windsurf when I first came to UKSA. The yachting instructors who helped me when I moved on to sailing yachts and the instructors who taught me it’s not just about sailing fast; it’s about keeping your crew safe and happy.

Many of the dedicated students I have taught from watersports to yachting, the attitude of never quitting and keep on going until you get to where you want to be.

When moving to superyachts the Captains, Officers & crew I have worked with have been so pivotal in helping me understand the industry and shaping my path.

How do you define success?

When I am contacted by students after they have finished their course and are out working in the superyacht industry. Seeing them in exotic places, working hard and having a great time is the ultimate definition of success for me (even if it does make me a tad bit jealous at the same time).

After work, I define success in getting as low of a score as possible in golf ????

What areas of the maritime industry have you worked in?

I have worked in the watersports industry as a dinghy and windsurf instructor, before getting my Yachtmaster and becoming a Yachting Instructor. I then moved into the superyacht industry working on various boats from 28m to 115m in length. After leaving superyachts I worked in the commercial sector on crew transfer vessels for offshore wind farms. Leaving wind farms, I moved to shore-based training, teaching MCA modules to those on the path to becoming Officer of the Watch.

What was your most memorable moment during your time working in the Superyacht industry?

There is so many to list. Some of the best include diving with whale sharks in the Maldives, seeing Komodo dragons in Indonesia and being at the Monaco grand prix.

But, it is not always where you are in the world, it’s the people you spend that time with, so some of my best moments have been in not so glamorous places, it’s the people who made the memories.

How long have you worked for UKSA? / What is your history with UKSA?

I first came to UKSA in 2005, I had always lived by the sea and thought about doing it as my career. One day I was at work (in a call centre speaking to people with internet connection issues) and I just decided to make the change and come down to UKSA, I booked a course and the rest is history.

I completed my Watersports Instructor Training course and was fortunate to be given a job teaching watersports here at UKSA. I spent from 2006 till 2012 here, working my way from watersports instructor to delivering and overseeing the delivery of both the watersports and yachting career courses.

I then made my second big career change and decided working on Superyachts was my next goal. I was fortunate to land my first job within days with the help of the careers team and flew out to a huge 100m plus vessel.

After leaving the superyacht and windfarm industry, I returned to start teaching MCA officer Modules. Without the help and support of UKSA during my career, I do not think I would have progressed this far.

What is the best thing about working at UKSA?

The team we have at UKSA are close knit and enjoy working with each other. Everyone is a team player and willing to go above and beyond to get the job done. I love the fact that I can pass on my skills and experience in the industry to future generations of Officers.

What advice would you give someone wanting to join UKSA’s Superyacht Cadetship?

It can be a scary decision on whether to do the Cadetship, new challenges, new faces, and travelling to remote parts of the world. Having made the decision to go and work on superyachts myself, I was a little apprehensive beforehand, but the experiences you have, the people you meet all make it worthwhile. Some of the places I have visited and people I have met with would never have been possible if it were not for superyachting. Along the way I have made lifelong friends. Anybody thinking about doing it, I would say go for it. If I had known about the Cadetship when I was leaving college, I would have jumped at the chance.

What is your favourite thing to do when you get some time off?

The location of the academy gives so many options for your time off. My favourite thing to do by far is to hack a little ball round a field, sometimes referred to as golf.

Be inspired