THE BIG HUR­RAH

Owner JR Ridinger ap­proached his first new build with cau­tion. But with a lit­tle nudge from his wife, Loren, Utopia IV has lived up to her name.

Yachts International - - Boats Of Distinction - BY JUSTIN RAT­CLIFFE

Be­hind ev­ery suc­cess­ful man there’s a strong wo­man. That’s one of those adages with more than a ring of truth to it. Such is the case with JR and Loren Ridinger. As a young cou­ple, the Ridingers founded Mar­ket Amer­ica, work­ing out of their garage. To­day the prod­uct bro­ker­age and on­line mar­ket­ing com­pany is a global en­ter-en­ter­prise, and the Ridingers are mul­ti­mil­lion­aires, liv­ing the Amer­i­can dream with a string of fash­ion­able homes and a sta­ble of lux­ury cars. They are also vet­eran yacht own­ers who, ear­lier this year, took de­liv­ery of Utopia IV, a 206-foot (63-me­ter) trideck de­signed by En­rico Gobbi and built by Rossi­navi in Italy.

But if Loren hadn’t taken mat­ters into her own hands, Utopia IV may never have hap­pened.

The cou­ple al­ready owned Utopia III, a 150-foot (45.7-me­ter) Trin­ity that had served them well as a fam­ily boat and cor­po­rate suc­cess sym­bol. But with grow­ing grand­chil­dren, they felt it was time to take the next step up in size. Af­ter two years of search­ing for a bro­ker­age boat, they floated the idea of a cus­tom yacht. Project Vec­tor, al­ready in build at the Rossi­navi yard, seemed to fit the bill, but JR was leery of sign­ing on the dot­ted line.

“I’d only bought fin­ished yachts and heard too many night­mare sto­ries of what could go wrong when you build from new,” he says. “On the one hand I was cau­tious, but I was also at­tracted to Rossi­navi be­cause it’s a fam­ily busi­ness like ours. They have a pas­sion for what they do, and I felt kind of com­fort­able with that.”

Loren knew he had reser­va­tions—but also that he re­ally wanted the boat.

“Some­times men make things too com­pli­cated, so I called [ship­yard man­ager] Clau­dia Rossi my­self and sent her pic­tures of our fam­ily, ex­plain­ing how we like to use our yachts,” Loren says. “And to­gether we closed the con­tract. JR told me I was crazy, but I know he was over­joyed.”

With the dol­lar deal out of the way, the Ridingers dove into the busi­ness of cre­at­ing the dream­boat that JR de­scribes as their “big hur­rah.”

“It was re­ally about cre­at­ing a warm en­vi­ron­ment to enjoy with our chil­dren and grand­chil­dren, but also an amaz­ing place where we could en­ter­tain and do busi­ness,” says Loren, who worked closely with Gobbi to de­fine a co­zily con­tem­po­rary in­te­rior with a touch of Ital­ian so­phis­ti­ca­tion.

Dark wal­nut com­bined with light oak and leather fin­ishes in shades of ivory and beige cre­ate a crisp yet calm­ing am­bi­ence. The tex­tiles and fab­rics are sourced from Her­mès and Ar­mani in soft, neu­tral tones with splashes of sailorly blue and vi­brant aqua­ma­rine. Dif­fuse LED-strip light­ing on the ceil­ings and walls echoes the wooden lou­vers of the win­dow blinds and en­hances the calm­ing mood.

The own­ers com­mis­sioned sev­eral be­spoke art­works, in­clud­ing hand­crafted pieces of Vene­tian glass and a cas­cad­ing sculpture in the main lobby. The sculpture in­cor­po­rates the names of the ex­tended Ridinger fam­ily—a sort of DNA he­lix by En­rico Benetta, an Ital­ian artist known for his ty­po­graph­i­cal cre­ations. The mas­ter suite on the main deck for­ward has a king­size bed on a raised plat­form fac­ing a glass-walled hot tub that can be closed off by wrap­around cur­tains, and a pri­vate ter­race built into the star­board bul­wark.

As a fam­ily boat, how­ever, not all the spa­ces on board Utopia IV are aimed at the adults. One of the five guest state­rooms on the lower deck serves as a toy-filled play­room for the chil­dren—and for Loren, who likes to un­wind by play­ing with Le­gos and builds mini-struc­tures for younger guests be­fore they come on board. In ad­di­tion to the yacht’s three child­friendly pools, the tran­som door folds down to cre­ate a swim plat­form and chill-out zone of nearly 754 square feet (70 square me­ters). The beach club and bar are suf­fused with dap­pled light from the glass­bot­tomed pool on the main deck above.

The main stair­well and pil­lars sup­port­ing a mir­rored “magic screen” TV in the sa­lon are clad in wafer­thin gray slate, but there is oth­er­wise lit­tle in the way of stone fin­ishes for a yacht built in a re­gion fa­mous for its mar­ble. The rea­son is ob­vi­ous when you con­sider that speed was an es­sen­tial re­quire­ment, and heavy stone does not marry well with high per­for­mance.

JR likes his toys to be quick off the mark. He was the first per­son in the United States to take de­liv­ery of the new Rolls-Royce Phan­tom (as a Christ­mas present for Loren), which can ac­cel­er­ate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in four sec­onds. Utopia IV’s ag­gres­sive ex­te­rior styling, with her hood-like fore­deck, ver­ti­cal bow and low-slung su­per­struc­ture, owes much to the world of au­to­mo­tive de­sign. Half close your eyes,

and it’s easy to trans­pose the white-painted coachroof onto four wheels. All that’s miss­ing is the go-fast stripes and a GT logo on the side.

“The brief was for a fast yacht ca­pa­ble of speeds ap­proach­ing 30 knots, and a shal­low draft for cruis­ing south­ern Florida and the Ba­hamas,” says Fed­erico Rossi, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer at Rossi­navi. “We wanted her to feel like a speed­boat, but had to bal­ance the horse­power re­quired to achieve the top speed with low-speed ef­fi­ciency and long range.”

Arra­bito Naval Ar­chi­tects de­vel­oped a fast dis­place­ment hull form to meet the per­for­mance cri­te­ria. Early in the de­sign phase, two large and one smaller en­gine were con­sid­ered, but the team opted for four lighter, medium-pow­ered MTUs cou­pled to four Rolls-Royce pump jets. Sta­bi­lizer fins, which could have com­pro­mised the speed and draft re­quire­ments, were scrapped in fa­vor of a sin­gle in­board gyro. Dur­ing sea trails at half load, Utopia IV notched 33 knots (ex­ceed­ing her con­trac­tual top speed by 5 knots) and a cruis­ing speed of 26 knots. At an eco­nom­i­cal dis­place­ment speed of 12 knots, she can cover 3,300 nau­ti­cal miles without re­fu­el­ing.

Fol­low­ing de­liv­ery of Utopia IV in June, the Ridingers put her per­for­mance to good use dur­ing a whirl­wind Mediter­ranean cruise. The maiden voy­age whisked them from Viareg­gio to Portofino in Italy, Monaco to Cannes and Saint-Tropez in France, Porto Cervo on Sar­dinia, and back to­ward main­land Italy to visit Ischia, the Bay of Naples, Pom­peii, Posi­tano, Sor­rento, Capri, Civ­i­tavec­chia (near Rome) and Elba. Af­ter a quick visit to the yard for war­ranty work, the yacht con­tin­ued up the Ital­ian coast to Genoa and was loaded onto a trans­port ship for the trip home to Mi­ami and her de­but at the Fort Laud­erdale In­ter­na­tional Boat Show.

“Utopia IV ticks all the right boxes,” JR says. “I was look­ing for some­thing to go wrong at the beginning, but work­ing with the Rossi fam­ily took all the has­sle out of it. You have to like the peo­ple you’re work­ing with. If you don’t have a con­nec­tion, it’s go­ing to be a bumpy road. They had the pas­sion, the knowl­edge, the work­man­ship and the tech­nol­ogy. The rest of it, we could work though.”

“Utopia means bliss­ful per­fec­tion,” Loren said at the launch cer­e­mony, be­fore break­ing the bap­tismal bot­tle of Cham­pagne over the bows of their new yacht. “The most im­por­tant thing is that we plan to fill her with a lot of love and chil­dren and hap­pi­ness. I ask the seas and the oceans for a safe jour­ney and a happy one for ev­ery­one who trav­els with her.”

Amen.

Utopia IV’s mus­cu­lar ex­te­rior pro­file by En­rico Gobbi bor­rows styling mo­tifs from the world of au­to­mo­tive de­sign. RIGHT: The yacht’s own­ers, Loren and JR Ridinger.

be­low: The yacht has three pools. The one on the main deck aft has a glass bot­tom that pro­vides a sky­light into the beach club be­low.

above: Work­ers look on as Utopia IV pre­pares for her launch last March.

clock­wise from right: The main sa­lon; The glass­walled hot tub in the owner’s bath­room; Bright splashes of aqua­ma­rine add sparkle to the beach club; The raised bed in the mas­ter state­room.

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