Raised in San Diego, Richard grew up on boats—admittedly, mostly sailboats. He actually didn't purchase his first powerboat, a 19-foot SeaCraft center console, until after he moved to Jupiter, Florida, in 1980. From the moment he launched Last Resort, he was hooked on powerboats, so much so that he decided to parlay his love of them and his experience as a diesel mechanic into a career as a freelance boating writer.
In 1981, he was hired by Boating magazine as its engines columnist and boat tester, and in 1984, he left to work at Yachting. A year later he was hired as executive editor of Power & Motoryacht, a position that necessitated a move to Connecticut, where the magazine was then headquartered. Thiel assumed the editorship of PMY's small-boat magazine, Motorboat, in late 1985 and then became editor-in-chief of PMY in 1987. He says that even 20 years later, it's still a dream job and that "most days" he looks forward to going to work—especially when "work" is running a boat.
Along the way, Thiel has owned a number of powerboats, culminating with his purchase of Ava T., a 32-foot Jarvis Newman lobster boat, three years ago. In 2006, Thiel realized a longtime dream by earning his U.S. Coast Guard OUPV captain's license in 2006.