We interviewed Aussie sailor and boatbuilder extraordinaire Mark Richards to see what he thinks makes his Palm Beach 55 stand out from the crowd.
Power & Motoryacht: What’s different about the 55 compared to your other boats?
Richards: A lot of R&D has gone into our other boats and it’s sort of all amalgamated in the 55. We have a lot of experienced owners and they all bring stuff to the table. It’s general evolution.
Power & Motoryacht: What are some of the construction details about this boat that make her stand out?
Richards: It’s the way we construct the boats, every bulkhead, every floor. Every bulkhead is structurally glassed to the boat. It’s a very different way of constructing the boat. It makes it strong and stiff. You don’t get creaking and moaning and the noises you get in a traditional-construction boat. You get strength with less weight. It takes longer to build a boat like that but it’s the Rolls- Royce way of building a boat. So that’s what we do.
Power & Motoryacht: You guys hand-lay the hulls, right?
Richards: Correct. I come from the America’s Cup world and we do a lot of testing as far as quality and reliability and shear strength. The hand-lay technique is the strongest, most consistent product we can make.
Another thing about the hull, you’re not going to beat a warped hull for fuel efficiency under 30 knots. It’s impossible. And under 30 knots is where most boats spend most of their lives. A warped hull is designed to go through the water while a planing hull goes above the water. A warped hull has a shallow draft aft because of the deadrise, and you’re quite buoyant.
Power & Motoryacht: What sorts of onboard technology does Palm Beach employ?
Richards: We’ve got all the latest Garmin stuff. Technologically we’ve got pretty simple things. That might not be the right way to say it. But we offer the clients whatever they want. You want simple systems, shaft drive, or things like that, we can do it. Or if they want to go to the IPS system, they have that option as well. The IPS I think is absolutely sensational technology and we’ve been using it for three, almost four years now, and it’s been a very, very solid system.
We still get a lot of old salts who want traditional running gear, but it really doesn’t make much difference. It’s so flat at the stern that the boat performs equally well with both drives.
Power & Motoryacht: Can you tell me about your philosophy on the boat’s onboard systems?
Richards: We keep everything as simple as possible for reliability. Look at the dinghy-launching system. It’s very, very simple. And the reason for that is reliability. And it keeps the running cost low. Anybody can build gimmicky things, but reliability is very important to us and that’s why we keep all of our systems as simple as possible.