Yacht & Company Profiles
The Value of Professional Guidance
YV&C speaks with renowned yacht designer Ward Setzer
Aug. 30, 2005 03:00 PM
Internationally acclaimed yacht designer Ward Setzer is a preeminent expert on the yachting lifestyle. Setzer-designed vessels have claimed three of the nine International Superyachts Society Design Awards given out in the last three years. His 84’ express cruiser Wombat graced the April 2005 cover of a yachting magazine, and in a recent issue of another magazine, an editor wrote that Setzer’s “critical eye for form and function have propelled him into the ranks of the world’s most sought-after yacht designers.”
Setzer explains that the rising popularity of yachts (pleasure craft 80' and above) and superyachts (150' and above) has much to do with advances in design and technology that have elevated on-board travel and living to a new level of comfort. “Whether as an owner, guest or charter passenger, living on board a modern yacht affords every luxury, accommodation and communications technology as the finest home or office,” he said, “not to mention the ultimate in privacy and service from a dedicated crew.” Stay connected or be blissfully unavailable – it’s up to you.
And no, Setzer insists, you don’t need to be a billionaire to enjoy the same luxuries and pleasures that await on board the world’s finest motoryachts. However, navigating the waters of yacht ownership and chartering requires expert guidance to help you make informed decisions.
Setzer’s voyage into the world of yacht design began with a simple love of the sea combined with a passion and talent for visual art. A native of Virginia, he graduated from N.C. State University as an architect and trained in naval architecture at Maine Maritime Academy. Early in his career he worked under the tutelage of Jack Hargrave, the original designer for world-renowned Hatteras Yachts, and became a top manager and designer at Hatteras before founding his own company in 1991.
Based in Cary, N.C., Setzer Design Group works with discerning clients and leading shipyards in the U.S. and around the world, concepting, designing and supervising the production of yachts and superyachts in many styles from modern to classic, expedition and blue water types. When he’s not in his studio or traveling to meet clients and builders, Setzer enjoys sailing, power cruising, surfing and fishing around the world with his wife and two teenage sons.
Setzer attributes numerous influences to his design sensibilities, including the naval architecture and yacht design of Jack Hargrave, Francis Herreshoff, William Hand and Bill Garden, the classic steam powered yachts of the 1920s and 30s, automobile and aviation design of the past 20 years, architects Paolo Soleri and Peter Graves and, as an overall designer and inventor, Leonardo DaVinci.
A versatile, visionary talent, Setzer is known within the yachting world as a guy who can do it all. If he can’t find the right fixture, he’ll design it himself. If the right tool doesn’t exist, he’ll design one and make it himself. He not only designs the hulls and exteriors, but the systems, engineering and even the interiors – the entire vessel from stem to stern. Among his peers and competition, he stands alone as a designer who can not only draw a boat, but build one.
While the Setzer design portfolio has grown to include sportfishing boats, explorers, and classic express cruisers, the newest Setzer launches are tri-deck superyachts. Recently christened were the 130' Magic and the 152' Lia Fail, two of the largest composite construction yachts ever produced in the Pacific Northwest.
At the time of its launch in January 2005, the 130' by 27' Magic was the largest full displacement project ever produced by Northern Marine of Anacortes, Wash. Following the launch, Magic made her initial open water voyage down the Pacific Coast, through the Panama Canal, and was delivered to her owner in Palm Beach. Both the interior and exterior styling reflect Setzer’s signature look – classic, clean lines with modern touches, always with a nod toward the timeless nautical aesthetic that so deeply influenced the designer.
Lia Fail, launched in March of 2005, is the first yacht in the Opus line of luxury tri-deck motoryachts from Northern Marine. At 152' by 29.5' it is the largest vessel ever constructed by the shipyard. Like Magic, the silhouette, shadow lines and exterior detailing of Lia Fail are an artful blending of classic and contemporary design. Within the main saloon, staterooms, lounges, dining room and galley, the woodwork alone is a stunning example of Setzer’s obsession with detail and style. While luxurious and superbly crafted, there is a conscious absence of overstatement throughout Lia Fail, and a premium on comfort.