May 15, 2008 (CARY, NC) – When superyacht architect Ward Setzer of Setzer Design Group joined the 2008 Superyacht United Kingdom Tour of Excellence in April, he was after more than a good look at Britain’s shipyards and updates on the UK supply chain. He was also looking for proof that a new series of futuristic vessels he’s been designing since the first of the year is both valid and timely.
He returned from the trip convinced that he’s right on target.
Setzer Design Group, headquartered in Cary, North Carolina, is well known worldwide for designing both modern and classic vessels of all sizes that boast sea-worthy hull forms, design innovations, and elegant refinement. For 17 years, the studio has turned out over 200 power and sailing vessels that, above all else, are thoroughly capable of being built and taken to sea.
With that experience, reputation, and pedigree as his foundation, and with the encouragement he received during the UK tour, Setzer is now preparing to introduce a new series of superyachts (130 ft. to 300 ft., or 40-100 meters). After attending numerous boat shows over the past year, he believes these vessels will “challenge the established tastes so ingrained in the yachting community, which, at its heart, wants to see change.” He calls it his “Vision Series.”
Ward Setzer was the only yacht designer and the only American on the tour. He spent his days in Britain surrounded by brokers and builders from around the globe, including China, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Finland, Monaco, and Russia. The group also toured large, prestigious shipyards such as Pendennis and Devonport.
“In some ways, this was a fact-finding mission. I’m always looking for quality shipyards, so any opportunity to tour yards and understand their various attributes is very valuable,” said Setzer, who has been on similar tours in New Zealand, Holland and Italy. “I also needed to gain a greater understanding of British superyacht services.”
But mostly he listened to what his peers in the industry were talking about and most excited by.
“This trip solidified and reinforced my focus on the new series,” he said. “The timing is not only right for us to step up to the new cutting edge of our Industry, but also to venture out upon its very tip, so to speak. If we fail to challenge popular, established tastes, we’re simply following the status quo. That’s not what made our studio a dominant player over the years and certainly not what will take us into 2010 and beyond.”
Setzer Design Studio will begin releasing images and details of the Vision Series this summer.
The British Marine Federation, the trade association for the British boating industry, sponsored the tour, which included stops in London; South Hampton; Falmouth, and Newquay. The group also toured the HMS Victory, built between 1759 and 1765, now in dry dock at Portsmouth’s Royal Naval Dockyard and used as a living museum to the Royal Navy.
Setzer is now planning similar tours of China and Taiwan in his on-going quest to gain as much insight as possible into the future of the superyacht industry.
Ward Setzer, former staff designer for the late J.B. Hargrave and, later, manager of Hatteras Yachts Custom Division, founded Setzer Design Group in 1991. The studio’s custom and production vessels have received numerous awards, including three Super Yacht Society awards, and have been in many industry magazines and journals. For more information, visit http://www.setzerdesign.com.