An interview with the captain of Lady Lene: “It’s in the blood”

Editor: Isla Mckechnie

“I’m not being paid to say this.”

We laugh, but Captain Guilherme (Gee) Passow is genuine in his admiration when I call him for a chat about the process of building accolade-winning Lady Lene with Van der Valk Shipyard. The 34 metre tri-deck explorer yacht was launched in 2021 and has been awarded the prestigious Judges Commendation at the World Superyacht Awards 2022 for ‘styling and performance quite unlike her rivals’ and ‘a wealth of merits that deserve recognition’. Quite a statement, but one that Passow, who as captain is most familiar with the vessel, agrees with.

Those merits began in the build.

“I’m impressed with the construction itself; the beams, the way everything’s welded, there’s a lot of quality control, which starts in the design of the building process,” says Captain Passow.

“Plus for a 34 metre, there’s a lot of space. There’s an elevator! It’s wheelchair accessible and there’s so much room, the wheelchair can move freely. The layout is simple but very beautiful.”

And Gee would know, yachting is in his blood. Brazilian born, both his father and brother are also superyacht captains and he grew up on the water.

“We sailed together, lived onboard and travelled the world. As we got older, Dad brought a larger yacht to enter regattas and get us moving; then the hobbies became a passion.”

An early piece of training for his eventual career, he laughs that living onboard with family was excellent practise for the art of letting things go and learning to keep the peace.

A sense of peace is something which he says comes easily on Lady Lene. Two sets of stabilisers — SeaKeeper gyros and fin stabilisers — mean the experience onboard is almost as stable as being on land. Something which is crucial when operating an elevator, but which also makes for a serene time for guests.

“It’s a very pleasant experience. You could be somewhere like Italy, watching a beautiful sunset, with family on the aft deck, enjoying a meal with the people you love in total stillness.”

Passow is looking forward to taking the yacht to his favourite cruising ground. He loves the Caribbean for its warmth — of environment, ocean and people — and is looking forward to exploring the Bahamas and down into the Virgin Islands.

With a full heating system in the floor, he’s also excited about the possibility to go further afield; citing the desire to head further north, as well as one day down into the Pacific. Having already been onboard Lady Lene in snowy conditions, he’s confident in the comfort she provides onboard as well as her ability to operate in different sea states.

He points out that it’s the owner’s third vessel built with Van der Valk.

“That speaks for itself. It’s very different building a custom vessel with a Dutch shipyard. Dutch brings to mind quality and high standards. Seriously those guys are good — and they’re not even paying me to say it — I can’t speak highly enough of them.”

We joke about it but Passow is serious when he says this vessel has given him the least issues in 20 years in the industry. He puts it down to time and attention to detail.

“Van der Valk is the best team right now. You can really count on them for the build process, getting parts, anything you might need, you call them and you can count on them. So to captains, I say I can highly recommend,” says Passow.

“The most important person though is the owner, and he’s extremely pleased with the shipyard. They are special.”

“Anyone going with Van der Valk won’t regret it. It’s delightful to work with them, they deliver what they promise.”