It's no wonder the rise in everything bespoke has had a trickle-down effect on a yacht's every accessory and support vessel: A no-holds-barred new build yacht deserves tenders that match in terms of line, style and specification. This has led to big business in custom tenders for Superyacht Tenders and Toys where, Senior Project and Sales Manager Richard Booth says, "If money and time are available in the right quantities anything is possible."
We talk to Richard about juggling expectations, challenging projects, and how customisation may shape future standards for the better.
OnboardOnline: How did you first get into the yachting industry?
Richard Booth: I started working in yachting on the Uk’s East coast, at Oyster Yachts. Having never been on a boat before and never sailed before I started from scratch helping cleaning and commissioning new yachts and handing them over to their owners. This was a very broad introduction and enabled me to learn a wide range of skills very quickly. I realized the very first moment I sea trialled a new 45ft yacht, turned the engines off and set sail that I had found my vocation in life. Since that day it has all been about the sailing.
OO: When did you join SYTT and how did it come about?
RB: I joined SYTT in February 2015, I had previously been running several yachts as captain for various private owners all over the world, this led me to superyachts where I worked in various roles the most enjoyed and relevant to what I do now was the role of tender captain. I looked after a Hinkley Talaria 44 and quite simply loved it! Great owner, great itinerary, great experience!
It was a sad day when I had to move on but my fondness of sailing led me to starting and running my own business providing on board sailing tuition to new yacht owners, (sailboats, 50-90ft Oysters and discovery yachts mainly). Whatever free time I had I was filling with small yacht deliveries which was a great experience, as you never quite knew where you would be sailing next and what vessel you would be sailing on. This was not without its challenges and I experienced some of the worst weather the planet has to offer on those voyages which gave me a huge amount of respect for the sea!
The plus side was I made some good friends along the way. But family life came a calling and a career shore-based was the new goal, I joined a rope manufacturer and took on a UK based sales role which provided me with a whole new set of skills and was a step towards the job which would allow me to spend more time at home with my new family.
It was at a series of children’s parties that I got chatting to Josh, with similar backgrounds in sailing and mutual friends we soon got chatting about his new venture, Superyacht Tenders and Toys. It just so happened that the timing was right and the opportunity was there and made available. The rest is history….
OO: What does your role as a project manager entail?
RB: It’s a fairly hectic lifestyle, as I now head up the project management and tender sales team within the company so not only am I managing my own projects I am lending a hand on others whilst also driving the sales process for new build tender projects. My key roles include pursuing and closing the sales of new tenders, working with various design teams and tender manufacturers on new concepts, reviewing build specifications and contracts, visiting shipyards for client meetings and tender builders for project progress meetings, producing meeting reports and maintaining project logs and schedules whilst communicating with clients, owner’s reps and captains.
OO: What trends are you seeing in the yacht tender market?
RB: There are clearly waves of enquiries of a certain type, we have recently been through a phase of being involved with a number of full custom projects. Opens and limos are a growing standard request for new build yachts but more recently catamaran tenders have become increasingly popular. Custom tenders are the order of the day.
OO: If demand for custom tenders is on the rise, why now?
RB: New build yachts are getting bigger and more customized, every owner wants their yacht to be different and this is being scaled down to the tenders, each one is required to match the mothership not just in colour but also in design and specification, building a one-off custom tender is the only real way to achieve this.
OO: What are the main types of request? Or is every project totally unique?
RB: Every project is unique in that they all want different makes and models of tenders, however there is a standard role call, for yachts sub 60m you are looking at a guest rib and a crew rib, for yachts 60m + a guest open/ limo, a beach landing tender (rib) and a SOLAS crew tender. For the 100+m yachts it is a limo and open, ski boat/sports rib and a beach lander/catamaran with the addition of 2 x crew/ SOLAS ribs and lifeboats for the larger PYC vessels. There are of course variations of this but very generally speaking this setup seems to be very popular and covers a wide variety of activities required.
OO: What are some of the real world limitations?
RB: Real world limitations are, simply put, time and money. You ideally need both for a custom tender build, but in general, you need one or the other for any new tender purchase. Our biggest hurdle and one of the main reasons people come to us for new tenders is specifying a boat that meets all the client’s requirements and finding a way to get it built within their budget and within the time frame they have available, both are usually underestimated and what is truly available is quite different. Compromises are needed to make things work in this scenario and our role is heavily involved in managing expectations. It all boils down to money and time, if both are available in the right quantities then anything is possible.
OO: Presumably the demand for support vessels is also on the rise?
RB: Support vessels are a key element of our business and yes, they are becoming increasingly popular especially with the charter market in order to offer guests as many activities as possible without sacrificing guest space on board the yacht. Also by having a support vessel (often faster) travelling with all the kit separately to the yacht, it saves time by having a full complement of tenders and toys all set up whenever the yacht arrives at its destination. There are huge advantages to having a support vessel and this is being recognised and is becoming a growing trend.
OO: Are most tender manufacturers willing and able to provide custom models?
RB: Not really, there are companies that specialize in custom tenders, whether that be a full one-off working with an owner’s designer or utilizing one of their own mould tools and remodelling it to be a semi-custom however not all business models are set up to do this and there are inherent risks in veering off the business model from production boats to custom boats. This said, almost all manufacturers offer a certain level of customisation within their set platforms and for the general market this works perfectly.
OO: What’s the process with more complex projects where you’re starting from scratch?
RB: It’s a fairly lengthy sales and specification process. It usually starts with the design of the yacht, the lines are taken from this, sometimes with a particular tender builder's style in mind. These lines are then put out for quotes and proposals are received and reviewed by the owner’s team. There is then usually a preferred style which is chosen for final review, at which time the specification is chosen.
Once the concept is approved, the chosen builder will perform their own design review and will turn the concept into a tender that can actually be built. This usually ends up with a few compromises being made and reverts to a more recognizable form for that builder whilst retaining the unique design flair of the concept. From this point on, it's just like building any other boat really.
OO: Is cost less of an issue in this context?
RB: Cost is always at the forefront no matter whether it is custom or production build, no one wants to spend more than they have to and every boat/ project has a budget no matter what the size, however, this said, back to time and money, the more time and the higher the budget the fewer compromises and the closer you can get to the desired result.
OO: To what extent are custom tenders shaping the wider market?
RB: Custom tenders are leading the way in terms of what is physically possible within a small boat, they are pushing the boundaries of technology and design and they are taking their influences from the yachts themselves, the further we push with the custom boats the more the rest of the market has to do to keep up which is great! The result at the minute is that there are some fantastic developments being pushed through in the production boat market and the quality being achieved by some builders is impressive.
OO: What’s the most challenging project you’ve worked on?
RB: Every project I have worked on and continue to work on has its own set of challenges, they are never straight forward and almost always throw up a few issues that you don’t expect. If I were to pick one I would have to go back a number of years to when we developed an inflatable landing craft. This was a complete custom boat and the only one of its kind, we developed it with Whitehouse yacht design and it was built by Henshaw inflatables. The main challenges for this was that it was to be a mix of Hypalon tubes and drop stitch floors capable of supporting 2 x BMW GS1200 motorbikes and when not needed it could be rolled up and stored in a small corner of the yacht's garage.
Just in case this was not enough of a challenge the complete package had to be lifted on a single point davit crane within the tender bay with restricted height and lifted over the side and down to the water with 2 bikes and a crew member so a fully certified custom lift kit also needed developing. This had never been done before and was a very unique and exciting project to work on and to this day is up there with some of the most innovative custom open/limo tenders we have managed.
OO: What do you foresee over the next five years, what’s on the horizon?
RB: The way things are going, we are going to be seeing bigger more technologically advanced tenders being utilized and stored on board either yachts or shadow vessels, quality of finish and use of space is certainly going to continue to rise and we as a company are getting more and more involved in garage design and integration early in the yachts build process which I would personally like to see become a new standard, with more thought about the tenders in the early stages this will create more practical and functional garage spaces, and hopefully help reduce the compromises for the owner further down the line.
OO: Who has most inspired or influenced you in your career to date?
RB: I would have to say here that there was a group of guys back in the early days spent at Oyster yachts who I worked with to commission over 90 new build yachts! They mentored me throughout the entire process of building and presenting a new yacht and instilled in me a discipline and respect for the highest level of service and attention to detail which forms the foundation knowledge that I utilize in all my projects to this day and without that I would not be anywhere close to where I am right now.
OO: What is your motto?
RB: Work: Money and time! Its all about money and time!
Superyacht Tenders and Toys are experienced in providing custom tender solutions to yacht owners, captains, crew and professionals. Often required due to the constraints of the mother vessel tender garage, custom tenders offer owners the opportunity to possess something completely unique and individual.
With several manufacturers offering bespoke tenders from 3m – 24m and all built to differing levels of quality, careful design, planning, choice and management is required to ensure the successful completion of the project. Superyacht Tenders and Toys is uniquely positioned to assist in the selection and purchase of the best tender to fit the vessel`s and the owner`s requirements and is able to offer unbiased advice, not being affiliated to any one particular brand. Previous build knowledge with yards ensures we can provide the best recommendations fitting the requirements.
We specialise in creating unique and individual designs to fit the client’s brief and we have successfully worked on a number of complex projects always exceeding clients’ expectations. We select the desired shipyard depending upon the preferences of the vessel required but are regularly in contact for builds with Hodgdon, Vikal, Tender Shipyard, Pascoe, Ribeye, Compass, Windy, Yachtwerft Meyer, X-tenders, Rib-X, Dariel, Scorpion, Vripack and more.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Superyacht Tenders and Toys