Australian superyacht industry mover and shaker Cameron Bray has come a long way from summers spent working as a humble deckhand in the south of France.
As managing director of Northrop & Johnson Australia, Bray now oversees the nation’s largest superyacht charter fleet while also helping to plot the course of the Australian industry as chairman of Superyacht Queensland and head of the superyacht strategy for the upcoming 2018 Commonwealth Games in his hometown, the Gold Coast.
The 37-year-old’s climb to the exalted heights of the Australian super yacht industry has been steady and underpinned by years of onboard and industry experience that began when he took that deckhand job on a 52m yacht owned by a Saudi princess.
“I was born and raised on the Gold Coast, so I’ve spent most of my life in or on the water,” he said.
“After completing my business management degree on the Gold Coast, I wanted to travel so I headed to Europe, and my love of the sea took me to the south of France where I picked up deckhand work.”
Bray’s plan of working a single summer on the Cote d’Azur before heading to London for a ‘suit-and’ tie’ job changed course when the Saudi princess asked him to stay on.
He ended up working on board for another four years; during that time completing several courses that elevated him to the level of captain.
The experience cemented his love of superyachting and ignited his passion for helping the Australian industry realise its enormous potential.
“I didn’t want to become a career captain, but I knew I wanted to combine my business credentials with my passion for superyachts,” he said.
“I wanted to be at the top of what I was doing and the pinnacle was superyachts; the ultimate luxury item.”
On his return to Australia, Bray was a yacht broker for Grant Torrens International Marine, sponsorship and campaign manager for Supermaxi Yacht Investec Loyal and then managed luxury superyacht company Ghost Elite Charters for two years before establishing his own Bray Management from home in 2012.
“Going out on my own was a defining moment, the ultimate plunge,” he said.
“I wanted to build a business but also help to develop and shape the Australian superyacht scene while it is still growing.”
Offering charter and brokerage services, Bray Management also introduced charter management to Australia.
“It was about creating something that didn’t exist at that time – managing the yachts on behalf of their owners by doing all the marketing, booking, crewing and financial work for them,” Bray said.
“No one was doing that in Australia, other than the owners themselves or their captains.
“It all seemed a bit ineffective and it presented an opportunity for someone with very specific knowledge, which was where Bray Management came in.”
Two years later, Bray Management’s impressive performance and innovative flair had caught the attention of global superyacht company Northrop & Johnson, which was seeking an entrée into the Australian market.
US-based N&J approached Bray with an offer to merge their businesses to create the company’s first Australian branch.
Bray agreed, and Northrop and Johnson Australia was launched as the nation’s first full-service brokerage and charter company.
Since then, Gold Coast-based N&J Australia’s fleet has grown from two to 15, making it the largest in the country, and Bray has plans for more offices in Australia and New Zealand.
Along with the success of the business has been the expansion of Bray’s role in driving the direction and growth of the Australian superyacht industry.
Having recently been appointed Chair of Superyacht Queensland, he actively lobbies the highest levels of government for legislative change and infrastructure spending that will help the industry expand, thrive and realise his vision of Australian superyachting becoming an acknowledged global player.
His efforts have recently seen him win a Gold Coast Young Entrepreneur Award for tourism.
“I want to see more Australian owners buying larger yachts and seeing those used for charters around the country,” he said.
“Another big area is the potential for international growth – I want to see more foreign-flagged yachts visiting our shores because that would benefit everyone along the supply chain, from crewing to maintenance.
“Part of that is spreading the word overseas about our superyacht industry and how it is on a par with the major superyacht destinations across the globe.”
More information: Cameron Bray