Short Sales

31 March 2009 By Mike French

Times are tough in the yacht-building business, there’s no doubt about it, Archie Techt, the Scottish designer says, “Right now the situation is starting to fully reveal itself like riding a girl’s bike in a kilt.”

Boats will get smaller again, he suggested; “Even smaller than this wee beauty.” As he spoke Archie pointed to his latest launch, Lady Amelia. At just less than three metres, Lady Amelia is the first in what is hoped to be a recession-busting long line of superyachts for the smaller pocket.

Yacht owners have reacted to the present economic climate in a number of different ways; some have left the market altogether and some have laid their yachts up with skeleton crews and tight budgets.

However, some owners are adopting a different approach: “I wanted a yacht that I could be proud of, a yacht that I could take anywhere.” These are the words of Rich B. Astard III, Lady Amelia’s proud owner. “I saw what was available on the market and I said, you know what, I just want something with a big-boat feel but smaller.”

So Mr. Astard called Archie Techt and after less than six months, the plans were drawn up. The specs were relatively simple, points out Astard, “We had heard that every boat is three feet too short so we thought let’s take whatever length we need and add three feet.”

This was the first in a series of very smart decisions made by Astard. “I got the idea because I didn’t need a boat, so I figured if I get one three-foot long I would be completely satisfied.” Ultimately, the design was extended several times as the design team fitted in everything they were asked.

After choosing the yard, a secret location in South Florida, Lady Amelia was given the project designation “Project 1. 2.7 m” because that was the project number and length of the boat and because inventive and imaginative project designations “…can be a little ostentatious for my liking,” says Astard. “I am proud of the look of the Amelia; I consulted with my wife Cindy who is an expert; she’s such a doll.”

Next the captain was chosen: Mike Hatpin, following a long yachting career he is known to many as simply Mike. Capt. Hatpin brought with him not just a little knowledge, but a knowledge of little. “Both my parents met whilst working as lumberjacks on a mushroom farm,” said Hatpin. “I decided to work with the yard to make sure that communication lines were kept open; I really wanted to make sure that change orders were kept to a minimum.” Hatpin describes his relationship with the yard as excellent and said he had enjoyed arguing with them for the duration of the build.

The project manager at the yard was Robin Gitte. He is the first to admit that this was a very new concept to him. “I really liked the idea, and I loved the layout, but I had real trouble getting my head around it.”

Altogether, Lady Amelia should be considered a small victory for her owner. He took a great idea and made it work for him. “The yard did a great job and so did Archie,” says Astard. “Now we just need the right sort of crew who will fit in,” he said.