CUR­RENTS

A change in fed­eral law means yachts of more than 300 gross tons can now proudly fly the U.S. flag.

Yachting - - DEPARTMENTS - by kim kavin

A law makes it eas­ier for large-yacht own­ers to fly “Old Glory.” Plus, six new yacht launches for boat-show sea­son, and art-in­spired sails.

In1920,u.s. law­mak­ers de­cided a yacht was a ves­sel with a vol­ume no greater than 300 gross tons. Any­thing more, and the ves­sel had to reg­is­ter com­mer­cially — and ad­here to stan­dards more be­fit­ting a tug­boat than a plea­sure craft. ¶ Ever since, pre­cious few su­pery­acht own­ers have flown “Old Glory.” A hand­ful pur­sued Acts of Con­gress to get the flag for their yachts, but the gen­eral rule re­mained. ¶ That changed in Au­gust, with a new law de­signed to bring U.S. code in line with mod­ern yacht con­struc­tion and use, much as Bri­tain’s LY3 code does there. ¶ “It’s re­ally ex­cit­ing,” U.S. Su­pery­acht As­so­ci­a­tion Pres­i­dent Kitty Mc­Gowan said in Septem­ber, adding that she’d re­ceived five calls in a sin­gle week from own­ers want­ing to fly the U.S. flag. ¶ The law gives the U.S. Coast Guard un­til late 2019 to fi­nal­ize the new reg­u­la­tions, Mc­Gowan says. For now, yachts that meet LY3 stan­dards can get the U.S. flag. Go­ing for­ward, she says, de­tails will be set for ev­ery­thing from U.S. crew re­quire­ments to char­ter­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties. ¶ In achiev­ing the change, Mc­Gowan cred­its Tilman J. Fer­titta, star of the TV show Bil­lion Dol­lar Buyer and owner of the Hous­ton Rock­ets as well as Landry’s restau­rants. He could have fo­cused on his own yacht, but in­stead helped the as­so­ci­a­tion, which had been work­ing on the is­sue for a decade, clear a leg­isla­tive path for all yacht own­ers — in just three months. ¶ “It took a phone call to the speaker of the house and a cou­ple other ma­jor­ity lead­ers, and that was it,” she says. “When you get a mo­ti­vated owner work­ing to­gether with the in­dus­try, what you can make hap­pen is un­fath­omable.”

“FOR PA­TRI­OTIC PEO­PLE THAT WANT TO PUT THAT FLAG ON THEIR BOAT, IT’S A BIG WIN FOR THEM.” — Kitty Mc­Gowan, pres­i­dent of the U.S. Su­pery­acht As­so­ci­a­tion

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