Yacht Designers

William Fife III OBE
Sir William Fife III OBE
Gilbert Monroe Smith
Gilbert Monroe Smith
Philip Leonard Rhodes
Philip Leonard Rhodes
Olin J. Stephens
Olin J. Stephens
Nathanael Greene Herreshoff
Nathanael Herreshoff
Most yachts are built to withstand the ocean’s fullest wrath. Apart from these survival conditions, all owners wish their boats to be faster than any predecessor.
-- Britton Chance, 1971

he ocean’s vast canvas has inspired sailors and boatbuilders for thousands of years. Yet only a few of them have wrought boats that are enduring masterpieces of yacht design.

Our list below suggests a modest catalogue of a number of the designers on both sides of the Atlantic whose work we know to have that rare genius. Whether for pleasure or work, for the thrill of a hard-won cup or the bounty of a full hold, each of them fashioned vessels suited brilliantly to a place and a need. Each forged elegant and timeless solutions to the perpetual challenge of a safe and quick passage through the wilds of water, wind and weather.

Thumbnail sketches of the boats from these designers which we have worked with are shown in the Custom Build and Restoration sections of this website. We invite you to get to know them.

This list is not a complete roster of excellence. We admire the work of many more designers and will be adding their names to this list in coming months.

We would be happy to talk to you about building to or working on any one of their superlative boats. Just give us a call.

The Early Days

  • William Fife I (1785 - 1865) Scotland. UK
    Prescient on the future of the nascent sport of yachting, he founded the greatest yacht design dynasty in the world.
  • William Fife II (1821 - 1902) Scotland UK
    Son of William I. Never abandoned either his craft or his sense of beauty; his yachts dominated Scotland’s Firth of Clyde for years.

A Golden Age

  • Gilbert Monroe Smith (1843 - 1940) USA
    He wove wood like silk to create shoal-draft masterpieces on Long Island’s Great South Bay.
  • Nathanael Greene Herreshoff (1848 -1938) USA
    Peerless combination of sailor, inventor, designer, engineer and lauded winner of countless prizes, including the America’s Cup, in yachts of every size.
  • George Lennox Watson (1851 - 1904) Scotland, UK
    Architect of the largest and most sumptuous yachts on both sides of the Atlantic from 1890 - 1904. Designed four America’s Cup Challengers.
  • William Fife III OBE (1857- 1944) Scotland, UK
    Building only yachts that were "fast and bonnie", he stood with the giants in designing for the fevered contests for the America’s Cup in yachting’s Golden Age.

Masters in the 20th Century

  • John Gale Alden (1884 - 1962) USA
    Opened offshore sailing to ordinary 20th century sailors with yachts of unparalled beauty and speed. A three-time winner of the Bermuda Race in his signature "Malabar" schooners.
  • Philip Leonard Rhodes (1895 - 1974) USA
    Leading American yachting into the 20th century, Rhodes designed everything, won everything and launched everyman into the yachting world.
  • The Beetle Family (late 19th cy - mid-20th cy) USA
    Charles Beetle, John H. Beetle and Ruth Beetle, by turns, created the mold, the opportunity and the business that allowed their simple Beetle Cat to prosper.
  • Olin J. Stephens (1908 - 2008) USA
    Standing on the shoulders of giants, this sailing prodigy designed defenders for the America’s Cup five times and matched Herreshoff’s already astonishing record.
  • Alfred Edward (Bill) Luders, Jr. (1909 - 1999) USA
    An especially talented and fierce competitor around the bouys, Luders designed beloved one-designs in all sizes. His 12-Meter American Eagle continues to win in Newport’s Classic Races.