Tue 17 Jul 2018 by Philip Woodcock, founder, Wyndward Maritime
Wyndward Maritime founder and former general manager and CSO at Workships, Philip Woodcock considers
how luck can affect the offshore industry
Do the immortal words of the Clint Eastwood character, Dirty Harry Callaghan, have a place in today’s maritime
industry? As a safety and operations professional, the idea of leaving anything to chance is alien, especially as we
remember Piper Alpha and debate whether the Cullen Report has relevance to the offshore wind industry.
As I am preparing to leave Europe and the employment of Workships Contractors to set up my own maritime consultancy
in Canada, I have spent a lot of time pondering the concept of luck. When I assumed responsibility as director for the
Workships Holdings’ group of companies in the depth of the crisis in 2016, my shareholders and I were confident that a
new approach would change the fortunes of the company. However, as I look back on the last two years, fortunes have
not changed greatly and I ask myself was this bad planning or just being in the wrong time in the market cycle?
Exciting prospects were not actioned because of the uncertainties of capping reactivation costs, as discussed by Ian Perrot
in another comment piece for OSJ. Was it luck that prompted the selling of most of the company assets in 2014, or the
foresight of the shareholders based on the experience of riding the market cycles over the last 40 years? I would hazard
the latter, but I am sure that none of them will ever try and say they foresaw that the market would stay depressed for four
years and that only the first green shoots of recovery can be seen now.
I was lucky to get the opportunity to sell Offshore Beaver for a healthy premium into the aquaculture business in the
worst point of the market cycle, but I did so knowing that this would leave me as a ship manager with no ships, a
situation that many in 2017 would envy. High-profile acquisitions heralding Workships’ re-entry into the market did not
follow. Although this was unplanned it may be lucky, as while there is still scope to make money in the offshore support
vessel industry, few people have done so in recent years.
The formation of the inspection, repair and maintenance service provider, RanaWorks BV, went according to plan:
partners were found, management systems written and certified to all the applicable safety and quality standards,
marketing was in place and client meetings held, all within the timescale set.
However, the one thing I could not control was luck, that client who would take a punt on a start-up and award the elusive
first job, from which one can prove the planning and develop the all-important track record. With luck, the first project
will be announced shortly, and then it will be down to planning to deliver on the promises in a safe and cost-effective
In today’s market I am sure that shareholders would, to paraphrase Napoleon, “rather have a managing director who is
lucky, than one who is good.” That is, one who can find that rare opportunity and make money from it, in a time of
oversupply and sluggish growth.
Therefore, as I hand over to my successor, I wish him all the luck in the world. He is left with a loyal team, a strong
reputation, dedicated investors and RanaWorks poised to grow, and so with those in place all he needs now is luck. While
for myself as I pack my bags and prepare to move to Victoria to start Wyndward Maritime Ltd, I say “yes, I feel lucky.”