As I sit down to video call with Josh Richardson, co-founder of Superyacht Tenders and Toys, I know it’s going to be a fun hour. There is a distinct twinkle in his eye and an undisguised enthusiasm for his companies that is palpable even through the screen. A veteran of the yachting industry, Josh grew up sailing competitively in the UK and European circuits from a young age and has pretty much every ticket including his Master 200. With his Yachtmaster Instructor for both power and sail, which led to him running an RYA training school down in the beautiful Solent after he graduated from the University of Southampton, it is very fair to say that sailing is in his blood.
But what seems even truer, is it’s not just the sailing, but the fun and adventure he derives from it that really drives him forward. In his early 20s he was a stunt driver for numerous films and adverts that included him dressing up as a 50 year old man, then as a 20 year old woman (the mind boggles), and working on and with films such as the Bourne Supremacy, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and even getting his head chopped off for an episode of Silent Witness!! He says that at that point in his life rolling a boat at 20 kph was probably still safer than going out clubbing.
Clearly this wasn’t enough though and after meeting Claire, a Commercial Property lawyer, and his now wife and mother of his two gorgeous boys, during a Fastnet race where he was Skipper and she was Mate, they decided to take on the role of Captain Chef couple on a new-build Oyster that was travelling the world, starting with a small jaunt across the Pacific. To quote a bit of Dickens he say ‘it was the best of times, it was the worst of times’. A line that I suspect that anyone who has ever set foot on a boat with an owner can wholeheartedly empathise with. However the months they had when they were alone on board were some of the most memorable of their lives. For the 3-4 years they held the position they spent hundreds of evenings under the starry skies of places such as Tahiti and New Zealand looking towards the future and working out what they wanted.
After that period they finally accepted that it was time to move on. Whilst finding the next best anchorage in some of the most spectacular places in the world is an amazing gig for a few years, their strong willed personalities finally won out and like many, the prospect of missing yet another wedding, birthday or christening was just too much and the call of home and a ‘normal’ life was just too strong. Even the camper van in New Zealand couldn’t fulfil the missing x factor and so they headed back to Europe and Antibes where they both became Yacht Managers with Josh joining Hill Robinson, and they got their life back.
Again though, it wasn’t quite enough. They had always dreamed of setting something up on their own. Of being masters of their own destiny. And it was then that they had their Eureka moment, from which Super Yacht Tenders and Toys was born, and they returned to their Suffolk homeland. To say that SYTT has been a success would be the understatement of the century. Within six weeks of starting the company they had paid everything off and had contracts pouring through the door. It’s not hard to see why, Josh’s passion for his product, his hands on attitude, but without micro-managing, and his attention to detail is what keeps yachts, owners, all clients, coming back time and again. They price themselves competitively and everything is completely transparent so that there are no hidden costs. Such was the success of the company that in 2017 they set up Shipyard Supply Co making their own range of deck equipment including chocks, cradles, tender whips, fender hooks, hover chocks, transom fenders, pillar fenders, the list is endless.
And it’s not just the yachting industry that believed in them, in 2017 the late, widely loved Queen Elizabeth II, awarded them the prestigious award of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. Apparently the party was much to behold and something that will remain in their memories forever.
Now, it has been widely documented that despite the last couple of years being difficult the world over thanks to many such occurrences such as Brexit, the Global pandemic and the following war in Ukraine, the yachting industry has managed to remain robust throughout. In fact there have been some astonishing figures and successes despite the world seemingly imploding. Well not ones to rest on their laurels, Josh and Claire set about looking at the market around them. Where could they expand? Where could they make lives easier for themselves, their clients, their staff? And the answer was simple. Instead of being the distributor, dealing with companies who wouldn’t return phone calls or would deliver late or incomplete orders, instead they could once again take their destiny into their own hands. So in 2020 they began manufacturing their own inflatables called Superyacht Inflatables to include inflatable docks, slides, prism towers, trampolines etc. They are all made from TPU, the only recyclable material available in the sector, unlike most others who use PVC. All of the inflatables are manufactured in Europe to reduce their footprint and it also makes selling in Europe much easier.
Not ones to do things by halves or let an imploding world get in the way, in 2020 they also set up ROAM BOATS, manufacturing their own range of RIBS, landing craft and support vessels. Given their years of selling everyone else’s tenders and building them up, getting them to build better boats to suit the superyachts, they finally decided that enough was enough and it was about time to put all that knowledge into their own range. Josh says that the RIBS and landing craft are proving very popular. For the ROAM Shadow they currently offer 24m – 35m vessels.
Unfortunately, the afore mentioned Brexit also caused its raft of problems that many in the industry also experienced, but not to be downhearted they took their usual spirit in hand and again in 2020 they set up SYTT MC their Monaco arm of SYTT. They now have staff, vehicles and warehousing there offering EU purchasing to clients. This has helped them set up their own yacht toy rental arm to the Med helping them look after operational yachts. So they are now 26 staff with offices and warehousing in Suffolk in the UK, Monaco and Nice. All of this means that they really are a one stop shop offering a Shadow yacht designed and built by them, as well as all tenders, chocks, cradles, deck gear and then of course the toys, all supplied under one roof!
I ask what it is that drives him, Claire and the team forward on a daily basis and the answer is joyously simple, they have lots of fun. You cannot get much better than that. We at Team Islander can’t wait to see the new range of products at the various boat shows around the world in the coming years.
By Victoria Pearce