Boatbuilder Inspirations

Four top builders share their historic influences.

Boatbuilder Inspirations
Four boatbuilders tell us what inspires their designs.Courtesy

Q: What iconic boats or boatbuilders inspire you today?

Boatbuilder Inspirations
Ricky Scarborough Scarborough Boat Works Manteo, North CarolinaCourtesy Scarborough Boat works

The old Ryboviches were the boats my dad and I thought were the most beautiful when I was growing up. The 41-footers from the 1960s and ’70s were just incredible: You could see the craftsmanship and the love that went into each one, above and beyond what was normal for the era. The way the joints met in the sheer molding was just as fair and pretty as you would see on any boat in the world. Roy Merritt also has had a big influence on the Carolina builders. From the mezzanine design to all the other custom touches he does, we think a lot of the way Roy builds his boats.

Boatbuilder Inspirations
Chip King Shearline Boatworks Morehead City, North CarolinaCourtesy Shearline Boatworks

Four builders stand out in my mind. Omie Tillet is high on my list in terms of lines and proportions. The classic styling of the cold-molded 43-foot Merritt is up there as well. Ricky Scarborough’s boats — particularly in the mid-40-foot range — have beautiful lines that really appeal to me. These boats have small houses relative to their overall length, which I love. But the builder that has inspired me the most is Rybovich, with its history, innovation, styling and finish. More importantly for me, though, is its people. Mike Rybovich continues to have a big personal influence on the way I do things. That’s my top pick.

Boatbuilder Inspirations
John Vance Jim Smith Tournament Boats Stuart, FloridaCourtesy Jim Smith Tournament Boats

Jon Sadowski at Revenge stretched the envelope in construction and design some 25 years ago. Revenge was building sport-fishing boats using techniques found in racing sailboats, including lightweight composites and very advanced manufacturing techniques. Not only is lightweight construction expensive to do correctly, but they managed to do it before the Internet and today’s advanced CAD modeling, which has now taken custom boatbuilding to the next level. The philosophy of increasing speed and efficiency by reducing weight is very similar to what Jim Smith did in the 1970s. And the first Revenge boats are still around today.

Boatbuilder Inspirations
Peter Truslow Bertram Yachts Tampa, FloridaCourtesy Bertram Yachts

Our inspiration has always been the deep‑V design, even from our early days as a race-boat company. Bertram pioneered the deep-V hull in the 1960s and evolved with classics like the 46, 54 and 60 in the decades since. These hulls run better in rough water than the traditional, relatively flat bottoms you see on most designs. We worked with the Michael Peters Yacht Design team on the new Bertram 35 because of their experience in high-performance V-bottom hulls, and the 35 is an exceptional sea boat because of this. The hull shape has some major advancements, but the soul — the deep-V — remains.