Ed Dubois still draws by hand, using battens, splines, weights and curves on a large drawing board.
“I always put my eye down,” he said. “Looking down a five-foot line, you can see what it looks like. You can’t do that on a computer screen.
“When you’re drawing,” Dubois continued, “your mind is working to make your hand move, and it’s a delight. When you’re doing it on the computer, you move the cursor, do whatever you do, and then you press ‘send,’ and the machinery adjusts the line to whatever you want. And in that split second, your mind stops. It’s not doing anything — it’s waiting. It’s intensely boring, I find.”
Dubois freely admits that computers are indispensable in the design of modern yachts, especially the superyachts that make up the vast majority of his firm’s business. The number of calculations, the complexity of the systems and problems inherent in the engineering of the structure would be nearly impossible to do — or at least take a very long time to complete — without the aid of the powerful computers his studio uses. And he tried to adapt.
About 10 years ago, Dubois enrolled in a 10-day computer skills course. “I’d better learn this computer lot,” he told himself. He was in his late 40s at the time. “I got to day three and said, ‘I can’t do this. I just can’t be bothered,’” he said, laughing at the memory.
“Doing anything physical that stretches your mind is deeply satisfying,” Dubois said. “I feel very happy having just designed a set of lines.”