If we were to throw a bunch of personality traits and interests into a big ol’ magician’s top hat and draw a few out at random, chances are we couldn’t build a profile as diverse as that of superyacht bosun Stuart Richmond.
With a background in the film industry, a passion for rugby and other team sports, a talent for playing the piano, and a deep desire to find a career that allows him to work with his hands, Stuart ultimately found his way into yachting and embarked on his dream job.
Here Stuart speaks to OnboardOnline about his journey and excitement for a career that continues to exceed his expectations.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Where did you grow up and what did you do after school?
I was born and raised in Southampton, but both of my parents are Scottish and they enjoy relentlessly teasing me about my ‘stupid English accent’.
During school, I discovered that I was a sort of jack of all trades but I found a real love for team sports, particularly rugby and football.
After school, I went to college where I studied business management, graduating with bang average grades. While still in college, I played a lot of rugby for the college team - the Trojans - and I ended up either training or playing matches most days. The thing that I particularly enjoyed then and still do, is the relationship you develop with the team. I loved the banter, the companionship and the little family you create with the guys and the coaches; the dynamic in yachting is very similar.
You spent some time in the film industry before discovering yachting. Are there any similarities to working on board?
After graduating from college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, mostly I just wanted to continue partying. A close friend of my brother was working on X-Factor and offered to help me get a job as a runner on the set. I got the job and was soon promoted to judges’ runner - that year Simon Cowell was one of the judges.
There definitely are similarities between television and yachting. Firstly, there’s a requirement to work relentlessly long hours with little to no breaks. Additionally, TV is very much an on-demand work environment. Things are needed right now, so there’s a lot of pressure on you all the time. I feel that yachting is the same. Everything can change at the drop of a hat, so you need to be flexible, be calm under pressure, and be on the ball at all times.
Another similarity is that both are ‘people’ industries. Having relevant skills is helpful, but if you know a producer on a show or a chief officer on a boat, then chances are you can get a job with them - assuming you’re a ‘good egg’.
How did you discover yachting and what were some of your first impressions of the industry?
My then-girlfriend got into yachting in 2017 while I was working on the set of ‘Love Island’. She told me that yachting was a lot of fun and that I should give it a go. When my contract on Love Island ended, I booked my yachting training and subsequently managed to get my first daywork jobs. I never looked back.
My first impression of yachting was that it blew my mind. I didn’t know anything about the industry or even about yachts, so to see these huge boats was just mind-blowing.
How did you end up in the deck department and how long did it take you to become a bosun?
The deck department was a natural fit for me as I love working with my hands, and because of my experience working on film sets.
It took me about three and a half years to reach bosun, which is a good amount of time and I only recently achieved this rank. My strategy was to skill myself up as much as possible so I’d never be in a position where a deckhand knew more than I did. I especially didn’t want to climb the ranks ‘faking it till you make it’ as they say, because you’re bound to get caught out at some point! I really wanted to do things properly.
Has your passion for rugby and your leadership experience in captaining sports teams benefited your yachting career?
Leadership has always been something that felt natural to me. I’m not afraid to speak up or to make a mistake. Rugby taught me to make important decisions under pressure, as well as communication and respect - these are all very important things in yachting and when leading a team. If you speak to someone with respect, kindness and openness, people will work hard for you.
Firefighting training and equipment on yachts has become a major interest of yours. What are some of your responsibilities on deck as a firefighter?
Fire prevention is the responsibility of everyone on board at all times - be it the crew in the laundry ensuring that the dryers are cleaned out properly, or the watchkeeper doing their rounds and ensuring that everything is as it should be.
I hope to never fight a fire but if I were to do so, I’d be part of the BA Team (the team that goes in and fights it). Currently, my responsibilities involve doing the weekly and monthly checks of all of the firefighting equipment on board - whether checking that the BA bottles have the correct amount of air in them or testing that the fire doors operate correctly. I take pride and a lot of time with this because if the time comes and we need this equipment to work in a critical situation, then I know that I’ve done all I can do and potentially I’ve even saved a life or two.
Your career has taken you all over the world on some of the world’s top yachts. What are some of the destination highlights of your career so far?
Greece is a very special place, it’s so beautiful. I was lucky enough to do both Santorini and Mykonos and it really is breath taking. I’ve also been to the Maldives, which is a bit overrated if you ask me, as well as Dubai, Barcelona (the greatest city on earth in my opinion) and the Amalfi coast. I really can’t pick a favourite, they’re all amazing.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
No two days are ever the same and you’re always learning. You travel the world for free and see some of the most beautiful places on earth with people who become your best friends, creating lifelong memories. There’s no better place to be than on board a yacht, watching the sunsets, sunrises and the ocean from a different place every week.
What are your strategies for managing the different crew personalities you work with?
This is a tricky one because you’re never going to get along with everyone, so you need to be mindful of how you manage people.
I think it’s also important to understand that no two people can be managed in exactly the same way. Some crew need some love and an arm around them telling them that they’re great. Other crew constantly need new challenges or they become bored and demotivated, while others prefer to just be told what to do and then they get on with it.
It’s important to identify how to properly manage each person to get the best possible outcomes. I like to think of myself as the captain of a team and that it’s my job to get the best out of everyone in it. If we all work together then our lives become easier.
You’re pursuing additional qualifications - what are you studying and what’s your career plan?
I’m currently doing my Officer of the Watch (OOW) which is exciting and will hopefully lead to me being able to climb the ladder to an officer’s job. It comprises six different modules and an oral examination. So far I’ve completed three of the modules and I’m booked to do four and five in September. My goal is to become an officer by the time I turn 30 and I’m currently on track to achieve that.
If you had to leave yachting, what would you be doing?
I’d probably be a firefighter. I’m terrible at sitting behind a computer all day so office jobs are a complete no-go for me!
With thanks to Crew & Concierge