The year was 1978. Fiberglass boatbuilding was exploding in popularity, and Taiwan was the fiberglass capital of the world—the majority of its yards building hulls for other boat brands as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Taiwanese entrepreneur Alex Chueh came into ownership of a fiberglass production facility and was consequently connected to American designer and naval architect Ed Monk Jr. This business connection formed the foundation of what would become one of the world’s leading production yachtbuilders.
Classic Trawler Days
From 1978 through the late 1990s, the Ocean Alexander offering grew from 38- and 39-foot trawlers to the extremely popular 58 and 64 pilothouse motoryachts, with a few larger one-off and custom builds in between. The Classico trawler line was a mainstay in the OA design, which enjoyed tremendous popularity on the US West Coast for its seakindly design, sturdy build, high-caliber engineering and considerable storage.
By the mid-2000s, Ocean Alexander remained a family-owned business, operating under the direction of Alex’s son Johnny, with Richard Allender serving as director of US operations. The market was changing, motoryachts were becoming bigger and bigger, and the company focus was on anticipating the future market trends and being prepared to move in a new direction, which included expanding into new boating markets such as South Florida and along the Eastern Seaboard. OA launched its first 100-plus-foot model—a 98-foot Ed Monk design that became a 102—in 2006. Monk’s traditional design, while appealing to the sturdy nature of West Coast boating, wasn’t quite what the East Coast lifestyle was after, so OA began working with London-based designer Evan K. Marshall on a brand-new line for a new market.
Ocean Alexander took the East Coast by storm with its line of 112- to 120-foot series of Evan K. Marshall-designed yachts. The series enjoyed tremendous popularity in the mid to late 2000s, with the flair of European design blending with durable vacuum-infused construction, the sturdy OA trawler DNA, and the reputable OA brand name appealing to a wide swath of boaters. OA was now importing directly into Florida, and owners of larger motoryachts began paying attention.
The Kaohsiung-based shipyard had expanded to meet production and size demands, as the Evan Marshall designs would extend up to a 135-footer. But the true turning point for the yard came when Marshall introduced OA to Christensen Shipyards, the Vancouver, Washington-based composites superyacht builder, and in 2013, the two decided to collaborate on a 120-foot build—a hull that would be shipped to Taiwan to be completed under the direction of Christensen’s staff.
“Having two builders collaborate on a build like this spun the industry on its head,” recalls OA vice president of marketing Sally Doleski, “But the process was a fantastic learning experience for both of us; it enabled our Taiwan factory to learn new skills such as floor inlays, and we were able to share some production efficiencies with Christensen. It was a turning point for OA.”
The experiences and skills acquired in that joint build were applied to OA’s 80-foot range, and the yachts’ look and feel were elevated instantly. This in turn increased OA’s brand awareness on the East Coast, particularly in Florida.
The OA Revolution
An expanded shipyard, expanded market reach and evolved designs inspired more creativity, and in 2018, the builder introduced the 27-meter 90 Revolution: a high-volume, high-style design with a dramatic vertical bow and sweeping metallic radar arch. This next step in the brand’s evolution was an abrupt departure from the traditional V-shaped hull and vertical flare of the classic yachts, and the company quickly realized that clients would either love or hate this bold new design. The interior volume afforded by the vertical bow design allowed the accommodations and amenities of a 112- or 120-footer, however, and the series that now spans the 27R, 30R and 35R gained a following, particularly in the Florida and California markets. The 35R won “Best of Show” at the 2021 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, continuing to cement Ocean Alexander’s place in luxury yacht building.
To Each Their Own
To appeal to all of its distinct boating markets, the Ocean Alexander motoryacht series today includes the Revolution (R) Series, which appeals particularly to the company’s more European-focused clients who appreciate elegant styling, a luxurious interior and a sturdy build.
The Legend (L) Series (32L, 37L) received an update at the hands of Evan Marshall but offers more of the classic OA exterior styling, and the new Explorer (E) Series has recently debuted with the first 28E, which brings a long-range cruiser with a multifunctional beach platform to the market.
What Ocean Alexander has focused on over the past four decades is the lifestyle of its owners, and each OA series is designed to suit the intended market. Craftsmanship in woodwork and stonework remains a strength of this storied builder, and the OA designs feature superior stainless work and oversize components for increased redundancy.
That market focus came to a crescendo during the 2022 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show when OA unveiled the Puro Series, a stunning megayacht line designed by famed Italian designer Giorgio Cassetta and intended for the global market—the first of which will be the 35 Meter Puro (35P), debuting at FLIBS 2023.
“When you grow too fast, you can have a problem if you don’t have the right facilities,” Doleski says. “We delayed entering the European market until we had the distribution network, yard connection and service facilities set up.”
With this well-rounded scope of designs, strategic market outreach and new global presence, Ocean Alexander is poised for the next decade as a world-leading production yachtbuilder.
To learn more about Ocean Alexander, visit oceanalexander.com.