Refits generally result in remarkable transformations, states Jeni Bone, but few are as immediately impressive as the metamorphosis of Shadow.

My first impression of Shadow was the stunning lines,” begins Darren Harvey. “I’m not a fan of the bulky bows on modern superyachts, and Shadow looked sleek and sexy on the water. I never liked the colour either, but I realised she needed more than a paint job to bring her back to full glory.”

Harvey, co-founder of a funds management firm, had enjoyed smaller boats in the past and was ready for the next step. His first impression of Shadow – a 30-metre Tecnomar launched by the Italian Sea Group in 2013 as Zahraa – proved to be a lasting one, and it led him to acquire the yacht with a view to refitting her for commercial operations. The once gaudy, gold-hulled motor yacht that had plied Sydney Harbour as a party boat was soon destined for a major overhaul and, thanks to her new owner’s vision, Cooper Chapman’s expert project management team and in-house engineers, and the combined talents of trades at The Boat Works, Shadow has emerged as a dazzling beacon of both aesthetic and technical allure.

Originally built for a client in the Middle East with all the mod-cons that were typical of the era, the yacht was a finalist in several design awards in
2014. She then endured the searing heat of the Middle East for a few years before being shipped to Australia in 2017 and finally commissioned to AMSA DCV Survey for the charter market.

A bar, lounges and modular furniture give the flybridge a superbly adaptable and welcoming feel.

 Gaby Cara created a stylish and
versatile monochrome interior to suit a range of different charters.

Harvey chose to refit rather than buy new because of the compelling proposition. “With a lot of love and the right people operating it, I knew she would make a fantastic charter boat.” Cooper Chapman, Founder and CEO of the full-service firm Chapman Yachting, was referred by friends of the owners who had been clients and appreciated their model of charter yacht management and operations. He agreed Shadow offered a unique opportunity. “There are only a handful of commercial superyachts in Australia that can accommodate 90 guests for day and corporate charter, or overnight and term charter for eight guests,” he says. In March 2023, Chapman was engaged to budget, plan and oversee the entire refit, then manage and operate the vessel in charter. The model Chapman has pioneered is one of central management running all aspects of the vessel,from repairs and maintenance to scheduling the part-time-permanent crew on a rotating roster.

With Shadow, the objective was to plan and manage a major refit that would make the vessel a frontrunner in the Sydney superyacht charter market. Customer experience was also a priority.  

“Gone are the days of a sole captain running a high-volume charter yacht,” Chapman explains. “When you’re operating four or five charters a week, 90 to 120 days a year, captains and crew can burn out in 12 to 18 months. 

“Our model keeps costs low,” he continues. “The boat runs smoother, and the crew has flexibility and adequate rest, which increases morale and leads to a healthy dynamic on board. 

In winter, we scale the yacht’s contingent back to a skeleton crew. This is becoming increasingly popular with owners, particularly in the 80- to 120-foot range. As a full-service group, we have access to in-house crew, engineers, maintenance teams, specialist trades, a reliable network, charter experts and a sales and marketing team within the company’s existing infrastructure.” 

With Shadow, the objective was to plan and manage a major refit that would make the vessel a frontrunner in the Sydney superyacht charter market. Customer experience was also a priority. After a thorough inspection and assessment by an AMSA-accredited surveyor, an accurate plan and budget were devised followed by a timeline for the works, which was daunting in its breadth and complexity. Chapman also ran the financial control of the project from start to finish. 

Robert Dempster-Smith, Project Manager at Chapman Yachting, coordinated the trades at The Boat Works, Gold Coast City Marina & Shipyard, and external contractors within the Coomera Marine Precinct. In addition to the colour conversion from gilded hull to gloss black with metallic silver – Mercedes high-tech silver, to be precise – a custom-designed soft-top was added on the flybridge to provide full protection up top while also retaining the sleek profile Tecnomar is known for. There was also a full redesign of the flybridge to incorporate a bar, lounges and modular furniture for versatility. Interior modifications were carried out to ensure consistency in both theme and styling.

A key part of the refit was the addition of a new hardtop to provide shade for the redesigned and highly social flybridge. From Chapman’s design, BlackPond Marine Consultants created the technical drawings, with Pacific Trim creating the
canvas structure and Wicked Fabrications &
Engineering the aluminium supports.

Working to Chapman’s design, the hardtop technical drawings were provided by BlackPond Marine Consultants. Pacific Trim created the canvas that gives the hardtop structure, while Wicked Fabrications & Engineering created the aluminium supports. 

The bow – once adorned with a flamboyant whale-tale sculpture and a spa pool – was completely redesigned. The pool and sunpads were replaced with generously sized, C-shaped lounge seating, making this prime position an inviting social spot for up to 15 guests. 

BlackPond provided the plans, which were used by Hybrid Composites to build the moulds for the bow seating arrangement and by Wise Boat Building to construct it. The teak work in the new bow was laid by Timber by Design.

O’Neill Shipwrights removed and replaced hardware ahead of exterior painting, and undertook the decking perimeter wipes between
the paint and the teak to secure the new paint works. O’Neill craftspeople worked on the interior panelling, which was reupholstered in the saloon and cabins.

The interiors – previously a cacophony of opulent materials, finishes and effects such as a backlit onyx bar, mirrored panels, furniture in textured jacquard satin, blockout blinds and dramatic lighting – were masterfully revised by interior designer Gaby Cara, whose experience was honed conjuring concepts for high-end residential properties. She was initially engaged to work solely on the flybridge, but the brief was expanded to ensure the saloon and cabins
aligned with the renovation.

It’s important charter guests feel at ease from the moment they step on board. I wanted the interiors to be neutral and sophisticated because there’s no end to the variety of events Shadow could host, from hen nights to corporate charters – besides, Sydney Harbour is breathtaking enough. 

“We decided it was going to take more than a few cushions to bring Shadow into a new era,” Cara says, adding she looked to the boat’s name for inspiration. “Owners have moved on from traditional nautical motifs,” she observes. “I wanted to achieve that welcoming, homey feel while keeping it mostly monochromatic.

 “Sticking to the budget meant largely cosmetic changes – we used black vinyl wrap over the onyx bar and illuminated wall panels; removed the gold fixtures and replaced them with black; reupholstered the sofas, chairs and beds; and added loose furniture in a monochrome palette in shades of grey for interest.” 

Travelling from Sydney, Cara visited The Boat Works several times during the refit. She worked closely with trades and specialists on site, including Wrap It Marine and Pacific Trim. “All furniture had to be lightweight, movable and easily stowed, or be able to be converted into sunpads if needed,” she says. 

She brought her retinue of suppliers to the project, sourcing sofas and decor items from Cosh Living, interior fabrics from Dedar Italy, and marine-grade fabrics for use on deck from Sunbrella and Mariaflora. “It’s important charter guests feel at ease from the moment they step on board,” she explains. 

“I wanted the interiors to be neutral and sophisticated because there’s no end to the variety of events Shadow could host, from hen nights to corporate charters, a tropical party theme or a baby shower. I chose interior elements that work with everything – besides, Sydney Harbour is breathtaking enough.”

Coinciding with the vessel’s 10-year maintenance period, she was due for an overhaul of all machinery and ancillary equipment. Ashore Engineering undertook the repair of engine exhausts, the replacement of throughhull fittings and valves, and the rebuild of the bow and stern thrusters. The entertainment system on board was upgraded, replaced with the latest Fusion audio set-up, a Smart TV in the saloon and a Starlink Maritime system for highspeed internet even in more remote destinations. 

Finally, finishing off the five-month refit, Shadow was given a brilliant, high-gloss two-tone respray to suit her revitalised image. The paint job was undertaken by Superyacht Solutions, led by Director Steve Wicks. “Shadow certainly arrived in a neglected state and in need of some tender loving care,” he says. 

“In the refit game, working like a well-oiled machine is important. It was our first time working with the team from Chapman – they had a good idea of what they were doing and, most importantly, they were willing to accept input from the various trades involved to produce a coordinated activity schedule. It all went very smoothly, and the result is a vessel that has been reborn.” 

Chapman is proud of the efforts by his team and all trades engaged on what was a massive project. “Given the scale and scope of the project, and the quality, we exceeded all expectations on timing and the project was delivered on budget,” he enthuses. “Shadow arrived at The Boat Works on 18 April and all the works were completed in time for her departure on 23 September.” 

The budget of over AU$2.1 million was, Chapman asserts, well worth it. “The refit ensures Shadow is a top-echelon charter vessel,” he offers. “She came straight out of the blocks and, within two days of arriving in Sydney, hosted an 85-passenger charter up to Homebush, dropping her guests at the NRL Grand Final. And it didn’t stop over the summer season – we hosted a launch event at Rose Bay Marina for over 200 guests, with sponsors and event partners of the calibre of Maserati, The Luxury Network, Grand Seiko, Whispering Angel, Moët Hennessy and beluga caviar. 

“Since October 2023,” he continues, “Shadow has been highly successful in the Sydney market, hosting events for Fendi Australia, Max Media, Hello Molly and Ocean Media – in excess of 60 commercial charters.” 

Reflecting on the process and the finished product, Darren Harvey is extremely satisfied with his as-new Shadow. “The restoration is absolutely amazing,” he enthuses. “She always had beautiful lines, and now she’s beautiful inside and out. What I really like about the new layout is the lovely individual entertaining areas. Whether you have six or 60 people on board, it feels great. People can spread out. 

“Now, with the custom-made protection on the flybridge, Shadow is a super social boat with lots of gathering places that are all equally special,” he continues. “We have four kids and they bring their friends along. Teenagers don’t want to hang around adults, so it’s great they can break away and find their own space.”

 Charter guests have reported their approval too. “I received a text from a contact of mine who chartered Shadow to say: ‘I recently chartered your boat and it was just fantastic – we had the most wonderful time, and the crew was awesome.’ That’s the main objective,” states Harvey proudly.

“Shadow is a working boat and, to me, it’s vital she has a great reputation. I’m in the business of trust and the management of people’s money, so when people make the connection between Darren Harvey and Shadow, it’s imperative they have a five-star experience.” 

Indeed, the project has been so successful that Chapman will open an office at The Boat Works in May, taking space in the new premises called The Wharf. “The Shadow refit is a prime example of the extent of our services and our expertise,” concludes Chapman. “We’re currently quoting several complex refits off the back of Shadow, and we’re confident of a few more over winter at our new Gold Coast home at The Boat Works.”