Industry » Features » Stateside: New Horizons in Yacht Design

Stateside: New Horizons in Yacht Design

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In my last column I talked about trends in exterior and interior yacht design, noting current interpretations by various builders of what a yacht should, or could, look like.

This futuristic movement is now well defined with the visionary SuperSport Superyachts of Sturgeon Bay and Wisconsin-based Palmer Johnson.  In particular, its recent launch of a 48m (157+ft) model, regardless of your personal taste, is an absolute head-turner.

Founded in 1918, the yard initially built wood skiffs and repaired fishing boats. Quickly gaining a reputation for quality repairs, they began building wood sailing and motoryachts.

As the decades passed, PJ found itself at the forefront of aluminum construction resulting in such lauded names as Isanti, Firebird, Fortuna, Tenacious, and in 1998, the year of the company’s 80th anniversary, the 59.4m (65+ft) La Baronessa slid down the ways as the largest aluminum yacht built in the U.S. at the time.

PJ SuperSport

A possible glimpse into the future with Palmer Johnson's SuperSport series

According to the company’s literature, the SuperSport series leaves the status quo behind and results in “a fusion of extremes.” To that end, some of the more unique features of the SuperSport includes a bow wave deflector, sponsons that can have positive influence on stability and roll as well as speed and power, a fully retractable in-hull anchor system, pop up handrails, fold down mast, a 7m (22+ft) tender in a garage, carbon fiber construction, and an interior that defies description with superlative comfort.

While not for everyone, the SuperSport Series from Palmer Johnson is certainly making waves in the design sector and is taking the trend-setting company to new horizons.

The Times They Are A’ Changing

The title above is taken from iconic American songwriter Bob Dylan, befitting of what's happening at the revered, Bath, Maine-based Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology, giving us a glimpse of how fast technology is moving forward, with a trickle-down effect on other sectors of the boating industry.

Westlawn, founded in 1930, and with such illustrious alumni as Jack Hargrave, Bruce King, Tom Fexas, Dave Gerr, David P. Martin, Jay Coyle, Doug Zurn, Rod Johnstone, John Cherubini, Kevin Dibley and many others, originally offered courses in wood boat design that were taught via home-based correspondence.

As the years progressed, and Woodlawn expanded its successful program to include both fiberglass and aluminum construction processes, the prestigious school always kept up the high standards of the rigorous and demanding 38 course program that could take four years of part-time study to complete.

While overseen by entities such as the National Association of Engine and Boat Manufacturers (NAEBM), National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), and the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC), the institute is now entering the digital age.


Alumni such as Patrick Bray designed the Cape Scott 85 and Bruce King's vision resulted in the beautiful Whitehaw.

According to the its website, Westlawn has now become independent of ABYC with a move towards an entirely online, state-of-the-art Web 2.0 student experience. The course materials are being updated and a group of private investors has stepped in to guide this most important organization into the 21st century to nurture the visionary imaginations of undergraduates. 

Eden Found..... By Vikings

The Seychelles are spread out over some 700 nautical miles of dazzling cruising and exciting fishing waters in the Western Indian Ocean, comprising 115 islands. The main ones are Mahé, Praslin and La Digue with numerous surrounding islands, the Amirantes, the Alphonse group. The most southern islands are Aldabra, a stunning world heritage site, and the beautiful Farquhar group.

To support the visiting super yachts that have found this paradise, the Eden Island Marina was developed just for that purpose. Located off the coast of Mahé, and connected to the mainland by a bridge, the facility, with dockage for vessels 115m (80ft) in length, is part of the island’s luxury residential project.

Eden Island Marina

Now, in a bold move that expands its reach further out from its New Gretna, NJ Stateside home, the Viking Yacht Company has selected Eden Island Marina to be its sales and service representative in the Seychelles.

“It gives us special exposure in a very exciting part of the world where, because of the great fishing opportunities, Viking Yachts’ sportfishing boats fit in perfectly. We are very excited about this move,” said Viking President Patrick Healey.

Viking 92C

Paradise found in the Seychelles for megayachts and sportfishing boats, such as Viking's 92C

Jacksonville, Florida's Proposed Superyacht Yard

With its location on the St. John’s River and the Atlantic Ocean, Jacksonville, Florida is a leading port on the east coast of the United States. Four modern deepwater (38 feet) seaport facilities, including America's newest cruise port, make Jacksonville a full-service international seaport.

And now there is a plan to develop the vast property known as the Jacksonville Shipyards into a SuperYacht boatyard, marina, and hospitality center.

There are currently two bids with the Downtown Investment Authority under consideration; one from Shahid Khan, the Pakistani-American billionaire and the owner of the NFL’s American football team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Patrick Mullen, President of Shitaki Enterprises.


If developers get their way, yachts such as Kismet II, will be able to find all they need at Jacksonville, Florida's new superyacht site

With its location in the north of the State, proximity to a major airport, and highly established infrastructure of communications, logistics, and transportation, if brought to fruition, Jacksonville’s SuperYacht yard could develop into a major stopping off point for the world’s largest yachts.

We’ll be keeping an eye on this story as it continues to develop.

Fair winds, shipmates – Capt. Ken

Should you have any special interests that you would like me to look into, please contact me via the buttom below and I will do my best to track it down for you. I hope to see you around the docks or better yet, out on the water.

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