In his de­but col­umn, yacht de­signer Bill Prince gives a nod to his two pre­de­ces­sors.

De­signer Bill Prince re­flects on how this col­umn’s pre­de­ces­sors in­flu­enced his ca­reer.

Power & Motor Yacht - - IN THIS ISSUE -

In the sec­ond sen­tence of this col­umn, which was es­tab­lished as the most in­sight­ful in the yacht­ing in­dus­try back in 1985, I’m go­ing to pla­gia­rize the au­thor who pre­ceded me, my old boss Michael Peters. The first time I met Tom Fexas was at the 1995 Mi­ami Boat Show. (Mike opened his col­umn, which aced this space from June 2012 to June 2018, by writ­ing “The first time I met Tom Fexas was at the 1978 Ft. Laud­erdale Boat Show.”) Al­right, I’m done pla­gia­riz­ing. Let’s do this. That Mi­ami show was also the last time I met Tom, who was busy be­ing the most ac­claimed Amer­i­can yacht de­signer of the era. I was 21 and had just won my first de­sign award for a 49-footer I had drawn dur­ing a sum­mer in­tern­ship be­fore my se­nior year in en­gi­neer­ing school. Hav­ing read ev­ery one of Tom’s col­umns in Power & Mo­to­ry­acht, I had to in­tro­duce my­self to my child­hood hero. I was as­ton­ished when he told me he knew who I was. Tom knew my name be­cause he had been one of the judges of that yacht de­sign com­pe­ti­tion, held by the Na­tional Ma­rine Man­u­fac­tur­ers As­so­ci­a­tion and, uhhh, Yacht­ing mag­a­zine.

The con­test had amateur and pro­fes­sional di­vi­sions. I lied on my ap­pli­ca­tion and en­tered as a pro­fes­sional yacht de­signer be­cause I wanted to find out if I had the right stuff.

I re­turned from the Mi­ami boat show with the award four months be­fore grad­u­a­tion. I be­gan to think about where I wanted to try to get my first real job in yacht de­sign.

Fexas? Nat­u­rally, if he’d been hir­ing. But an­other de­signer’s work was so com­pelling that I had to make con­tact. I mailed my best de­sign sam­ples to Michael Peters and called him two weeks later.

Mike spent more time on the phone than I could have asked for. “If you’re ever in Sara­sota, let me know,” he said. Two weeks af­ter grad­u­a­tion I packed my life into a U-Haul and dragged it from Minnesota to Sara­sota be­hind my Jeep. The next day I popped my nose into Mike’s of­fice. I started in Septem­ber.

Mike had his hand in vir­tu­ally ev­ery seg­ment of the power­boat in­dus­try, and I mar­veled at the va­ri­ety and mag­ni­tude of the work. At his of­fice I was de­sign­ing boats for Chris-Craft, Cig­a­rette, Gar­ling­ton and Mag­num, among many oth­ers.

Years later I left to work for Hinck­ley and Ted Hood, who won the Amer­ica’s Cup in 1974. Even­tu­ally I man­aged de­sign and en­gi­neer­ing for a com­plex prod­uct range. Build­ing boats with bare hands is an es­sen­tial part of any good yacht de­signer’s ed­u­ca­tion, so it was the ex­pe­ri­ence I knew I needed.

To­day, I might not be at this point in my ca­reer as a yacht de­signer had I never worked for Michael Peters, whom I con­sider a friend, two decades later.

It is truly an honor to be the third per­son in 33 years to write this col­umn, in the wake of the late Tom Fexas and the very much alive Michael Peters. This is our mo­ment of shift col­ors.

What you should know is I’m the right guy to take over this spot. I hope you’re go­ing to set your mag­a­zine or phone down af­ter read­ing In­side An­gle ev­ery month and walk away chuck­ling, and with new in­sights about the yacht­ing in­dus­try, the lu­mi­nar­ies and lu­natics therein, and your own boat. I’ll prob­a­bly even tell a story about Mike here and there.

I’ve been read­ing this col­umn in Power & Mo­to­ry­acht since I was a kid. If what I write here is read by some 12 year old with Chee­tos dust on his fin­gers who wants to learn some­thing about boats, maybe it will in­spire him in some way. But that kid’s grand­dad bet­ter be laugh­ing his ass off read­ing it, too.

Bill Prince with Tom Fexas at the Mi­ami Boat Show, where they first met back in 1995.

By Bill Prince

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