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August 29, 2007

Boatbuilder's Expo

An extended series profiling the 50 best big-game boatbuilders worldwide.

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American Custom Yachts

Marlin did its first review of an American Custom Yacht in the December/January 1994 issue; it was an "On the Drawing Board" piece in which Dean Travis Clarke reported that they expected to get 48 to 50 mph out of her. This Freedom, the first of many, lived up to those projections and instantly vaulted the new company to the front of the pack. Most of the credit goes to Dominick LaCombe, the former vice president of Monterey, who partnered with Edison Chouest Offshore in June of 1992 to start the company's quest for speed.  

"I'd been in the business with Monterey since 1983 but I was ready to do some of my own things. At Monterey we had to make incremental changes to our basic platform. I wanted to start from scratch and build a boat with the high-quality craftsmanship of a Rybovich or Merritt, with the speed of a Jim Smith - that had been my goal since I was a kid. When I met the Chouest family, I got the chance to make the hull I wanted, the way I wanted to make it," says LaCombe. "I think we've far surpassed my original goal - we work really hard to make each one better than the last."


At a Glance:
-Super fast
-High-tech construction methods and materials
-Looks as good as she runs

"One of the main reasons the company has done so well is that the Chouests are a family of boatbuilders," says LaCombe. "They understand what I'm trying to do here and give us a tremendous amount of support."

The Chouest family's expertise in ship building influences the way LaCombe and his talented crew of craftsmen assemble each new hull. "We are a totally custom shop and we build a brand-new steel jig for every hull. The Chouests cut the steel and we weld the jig together here at the shop. By using steel instead of wood jigs, we can easily make changes if necessary," says LaCombe.

"Our customers don't have to ask for a specific-sized boat; they come in with ideas about what they want to do and where they want to go, and we try to build them exactly what they need. And since we build cold-molded, custom boats, that extra foot or two won't cost much if you feel you need more room," he says.

For more information, contact American Custom Yachts of Stuart, Florida, at 772-221-9100, or visit

Next: Bayliss Boatworks