Design: Commuter Yacht Posh

A designer and a dedicated keeper of the flame reincarnate a stunningly beautiful commuter yacht.

Commuter Yacht Posh
Courtesy Bill Prince Yacht Design

If we subscribe to the notion that reincarnation is the rebirth of a soul in a new body, we'll understand why Bill Prince and F. Todd Warner joined forces to produce Posh. On paper — or should I say, on the CAD screen — this 21st century commuter yacht is an updated version of the original, which John L. Hacker designed in 1936 for cinema magnate Joseph Cooper.

She belonged to a family of three seminal designs that Hacker created just prior to the start of World War II in Europe. Her siblings are Tempo and Thunderbird — the former for Jules C. Stein, founder of Music Corporation of America, and the latter for George Whittell Jr., who at that time, owned the Thunderbird Lodge on Lake Tahoe, her current home. Canadian bandleader Guy Lombardo bought Tempo from Stein and made the boat famous by using her in his concerts on Long Island. Warner currently owns Tempo.

He also owns the original Posh, and he initiated the design and construction of this new iteration to pull together many of the Art Deco design elements of Hacker's iconic trio and showcase them in a single yacht built of wood-epoxy laminate and seasoned with the latest high-tech machinery and electronics. Warner selected Brooklin Boat Yard to build her.

The original Posh, built in 1939.

Although the underlying shapes of Posh-1939 and her new sibling look quite a lot alike, especially from the sheer line to the datum waterline (DWL), Prince gave Posh-2013 enough individual character to stand on her own. On both versions, a stainless-steel rub rail defines the straight sheer line from stem head to transom. Without it, the subtly rolling transition from topsides to crowned decks would blur and rob us of an important focal point. Absent that visual reference, would we think that the hull is a trifle bulky? I don't know, but I'd bet against that perception, because the exquisite tumblehome aft slims both yachts the way a Spanx T-shirt tames a man's burgeoning love handles.

Details on the superstructure tell the most aesthetically important story. The fastback styling of both yachts, along with the soft transition from topsides to decks, places them squarely within the streamlining movement of industrial design as practiced by Harley Earl, Raymond Loewy and Gordon Buehrig in the automotive industry, and George Crouch in his design of the Gold Cup racer Baby Bootlegger.

On the other hand, the flat sail panels that give both versions of Posh a fastback profile add significantly to the visual mass. Hacker inserted a couple of windows to break up the surface, but it still seems a bit ungainly. Although Prince retained the same descending line and height, his white panels and the lovely curved accent in a contrasting color nearly erase the visual mass.

Posh - 2013 Rendering, Courtesy Bill Prince Yacht Design.

Prince reached aesthetic harmony in the superstructure by quoting — or slightly paraphrasing — some of the French curves he employed there. The gentle slope at the terminus of the dark accent aft very closely matches the one at the top of the side windows on the express bridge. The shape at leading edge of the deckhouse echoes that of the contrasting color treatment at the after end of the house. Notice, too, how nicely the side windows of the observation cockpit blend into the house.

A lot of this yacht's beauty lies out of sight below DWL. As was common in the 1930s, Hacker drew quite a lot of warp into Posh's waterlines — so much so that they converge at the transom. This shape helps water clear the run at the moderate speeds of that era but it also produces drag. Prince straightened those waterlines on his version of Posh to reduce drag, which improves speed, efficiency and ride. He also increased the flare in the forward sections to deflect spray in open water and create a progressive amount of reserve buoyancy.

I have no doubt that this 21st century version of Posh will meet, or exceed, Warner's expectations. Meanwhile, I must remain content to follow her progress through construction and hope for a sea trial when she launches.

Click here to read more about Posh's hull form from designer Bill Prince.

LOA: 54'5"
DWL: 52'0"
BEAM: 10'9"
DRAFT: 2'6"
DISPL.: 20,800 lb. (full load)
DEADRISE: 10 degrees at the transom
FUEL: 300 gal.
ENGINES: 2 x 640 to 1,450 hp (gas or diesel)
TOP SPEED: Up to 60 knots, depending on power options

Want to see more yachts from Brooklin Boat Yard? Check out classic commuter cruiser _Aphrodite_ or wooden sloop _Isobel_.