The Richmond Way
A lot of megayachts have a lot to offer in the way of flourishes. A glass elevator on this one, towering gold columns on the next. And while sumptuous trimmings can certainly go a long way toward making a yacht feel lavish, Richmond Yachts' Richmond Lady proves that it's possible for functionality to be just as luxurious as any show-stopping frill.
That's not to say that this 142-foot trideck is without her extravagances. After all, she's got a seven-foot-tall gilded waterfall in her dining room, but more about that later. What really makes this vessel noteworthy is the lofty goal shared by the folks who conceived of her. "What we were shooting for," explains Keith Kiselback, Richmond's vice president of operations, "was a product that has no problems. None." A glitch-free megayacht? Now that's a horse of a different color.
Richmond Yachts began operations in 2004, after its president and CEO, Texas businessman Don Davis, bought the assets of the now-defunct Sovereign Yachts. These days, the company has a 70,000-square-foot, climate-controlled facility, which sits on the Fraser River in Vancouver, Canada. It is where Richmond builds its fleet—a fleet, it should be noted, that is created solely for inventory. As Kiselback tells it, "building for inventory allows us to build a better product with a more uniform result for less money." It also allows Richmond to do so with relative speed: Avoiding the plethora of opinions, options, and egos that often accompany a custom build means the company can produce a finished boat like Richmond Lady (Hull No. 5) in just about a year.
If she looks familiar to you, it might be because you watched one of her slightly smaller sisterships, Hull No. 2 Kerri Lee (138-feet LOA), play a starring role 2008's Fool's Gold alongside Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson. Richmond Lady is the third 142-footer in the series, which includes Kerri and which will eventually run to Hull No. 8. "Of course," Kiselback says, "the vessels vary in details on both the interior and exterior. Every one is a linear improvement built on the lessons of the previous one." That means that while Richmond Lady and her sisterships all share superstructure styling by Ward Setzer and a "base" interior design by Sean Pavlik, she sports a lot of reimagined elements, too. For example, she has a full-beam master stateroom on her main deck like her predecessors, but hers benefits from increased closet space and the addition of Seura Vanishing LCD TVs in the vanities of the his and her baths. In addition, Richmond Lady has only three guest rooms stemming from her lower lobby rather than four, as on earlier vessels. What happened to the fourth? It was converted into a gym.
Another major set of revisions can be found in her pilothouse, which project manager Alan Fleet redesigned to have vertical forward windows, rather than the slanted windows that appeared in previous iterations. This alteration has both practical implications (improving the sightlines and enlarging the view) and aesthetic ones: "It allowed us to give the room a more spacious feel," explains Julia Blakely, the leader of the Richmond Lady's interior design team. It is a feeling that Richmond's designers emphasized by adding a coffered oval ceiling with fiber optic lighting, a feature intended to give guests the impression that they're navigating under a starry nighttime sky. The change also opened up more room in the VIP that sits directly aft of the pilothouse, which allowed designers to include a massive walk-in closet, a larger bathroom, and a window overlooking the yacht's port side that gives inhabitants a beautiful view.
This article originally appeared in the February 2009 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.