Pure Genius: Willis Slane

Early adopter of fiberglass boatbuilding.

Willis Slane
Willis Slane.Willis Slane

One blustery day, landlocked because of weather that his wooden fishing boat couldn’t handle, Willis Slane remarked to his friends that somebody ought to build a boat that could brave the rough Carolina seas.

Why not you? came the response. Slane answered the bell. In 1960, under Hatteras Yachts, he launched what was then the largest fiberglass hull ever built, a 41-­footer.

A year later when Hurricane Carla ripped through a ­Galveston, Texas, ­marina, the storm destroyed every boat except for one: a 41 Hatteras. Slane proved fiberglass was the future.

Willis Slane
Willis SlaneWillis Slane