While Bucaccio's team is thinking out of the box, PD&E's engineering team is developing it. With a hull form and structural envelope in hand Bucaccio's team produces a dozen conceptual versions of a new yacht. After fine-tuning, half a dozen concept designs are presented to key Sea Ray dealers for comment. Ultimately three versions are offered to senior management for approval. "These versions typically range from conservative to not so conservative," said Bucaccio who suggests the team's favorite is typically shared in the exchange. "It was not design by committee but conformation of our creative concept," said Bucaccio.
In my opinion, Sea Ray's new designs demonstrate how effective the process can be. They are transformational to my eye. The sheer lines are less shapely and busy and seem to reconnect with the builder's design evolution. "In the late 1990s, Sea Ray took an organic approach to its styling in response to trends at the time," said Bucaccio. "Our goal with our new designs is to move towards a more classic look that is not trendy." Bucaccio and his design team have literally straightened things out with sheers that are purposeful or as he suggests, "more formal."
Genetically Sea Ray's new designs appear Euro inspired-a trait Bucaccio embraces. "We once said that it happens on the West Coast first in terms of edgy design-these days Europeans have proven avant-garde as well." Edge alone however, does not make good design and Bucaccio believes that Sea Ray designs are unique because of their American DNA. He suggests that style and fashion play well in young foreign markets, while a sense of visual quality or craftsmanship is a must in Europe. "Here in the U.S. we expect all of these assets as well as practicality and creature comfort."
The yacht line, for example, features stylish exterior windows that also offer a good view from within. Hull-side windows do not appear as an afterthought-they are integrated into the styling. "We use what we call anchor points to transmit styling cues and lines from one part of a design to another." European interiors can often appear sterile and stiff. Comfort and style are the keywords for Sea Ray's yacht interiors and furniture is designed with this in mind. Before committing to tooling a new boat, Sea Ray builds a full-size interior mockup. "Mockups are a cost-effective method of confirming what we are seeing on the computer," explained Bucaccio.
Sea Ray has launched eleven new boats in the last twelve months and are working on new designs that will debut in the next twenty-four months. While I expect there may be a bit of nail-biting when these new designs are launched, Sea Ray's team has no worries, based on what I saw at PD&E! We'll double check when we run the new 540 Sundancer in the next few months.
Sea Ray, (800) 772-6287; www.searay.com