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Innovators: Jack Hargrave

Find out how Jack Hargrave became one of yachting's leading innovators.

August 1, 2015
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Jack Hargrave ponders a design over his drafting table.

Jack Hargrave

A picture of a 70-foot steel yacht called Seven Seas appears to show a rather dramatic yacht launching, but it also says a lot about yacht designer Jack Hargrave. It was the first vessel longer than 30 feet for which he created a full set of drawings. It seemed the futures of the boat and the designer were linked.

During the launch of Seven Seas, the blocking gave out, sending the yacht hurtling toward the water. All the while, Hargrave looked on with his hands resting idly in his pockets. Now that is confidence.

Seven Seas earned the acclaim of the industry, accolades Hargrave used to open his own firm in Palm Beach, Florida. It flourished, and he went on to pen designs for many large and successful builders, including Amels, Burger, Cheoy Lee, Hatteras, Palmer Johnson and Trumpy.

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That first yacht was also the reason an ambitious sport fisherman named Willis Slane knocked on Hargrave’s door. He wanted a first-of-its-kind fiberglass boat that could handle the rough waters off North Carolina. Hargrave and Slane would accomplish this feat with the first Hatteras yacht, a 41-foot game-changer called Knit Wits.

The first Hatteras yacht, the 41-foot Knit Wits, has been fully restored to her former glory and can be found on display at major Florida boat shows.

That sport-fisherman (which was refit last year and even competed in several sailfish tournaments) proved not just that Hatteras Yachts was a serious builder but also that fiberglass was the boat-­building material of the future.

The Hargrave name lives on today thanks to Mike Joyce, who bought the business and used its legacy to launch the renowned large-yacht company Hargrave Yachts.

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