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Power & Motoryacht - May 2007 - Megayacht Mania: Westport

Written by Kim Kavin

That first Evviva – at 160'11" – became the toast of the worldwide Megayacht community, winning award after award. At the time she was a one-off. "In hindsight, it wasn't just a prototype for this new 164," Edson says. "It was prototype for the Westport business."

Some 15 years later Westport – with Edson as its owner, Wakefield as its CEO, and Garden and Starkey still collaborating on design – is turning out five 112s and 20 of the 130s cruising the world today. The new series of 165s, an evolution of the first Evviva, will add at least two Westport's a year to that total. The first, Vango, was delivered in February 2006. Edson's Evviva launched in December, practically in Vango's wake where these size boats are concerned.

The next two 164-footers are already well underway – one has sold and, according to Westport, about half-dozen clients are circling the other. Whoever misses that deal can get in line for Hull No. 5, which, like every Westport, will begin production on schedule with or without an owner.

That schedule, Edson says, is what helps to keep Westport prices so competitive. "You take an enormous amount of labor out of the boat," he explains. ". 'Not materials, but labor. You get more for your money."

At $31.5 million, the new 164 is arguably a bargain for a brand-new yacht in her size range. But she's also a huge leap from the builder's existing models, one made simply to see how far the composite concept could go."Your goal was to see how big a boat we could build and keep it under 500 gross tons," Edson says.

One of my goals in researching the 164 was to determine what Westport's production mentality means in terms of owner choices. The company will not move bulkheads, for instance meaning the general-arrangement plan is fixed. But interiors can be customized to varying degrees, and in this respect the first two hulls serve as an interesting compare-and contrast duo.

I'd walked through Vango in Miami just a week before touring Evviva in Mexico, and I spent a good bit of time with Westport designers Ellen Henry and Martin Pieramico. They're the people who follow through on interior dcor after Starkey and each 164's owner lay out a plan. They explained that if you buy early in a 164's construction, you can customize a heck of a lot. Evviva, for instance, has a second owner's office off the bridge-deck VIP in the same place that Vango has an extended guest skylounge with marble bar. Evviva's sundeck is also different, replacing Vango's large forward hot tub with additional guest seating and eliminating Vango's bar to allow for extra helicopter-landing space. But those kinds of big changes aren't possible if you order a 164 too far into Westport's production schedule, nor are some smaller changes that might surprise you. "It even affects the china, which we custom-fit" for stowage, Henry explains. "If you order too late, we have to say, 'This is the china you're getting.'"

These are the kinds of compromises that face owners who want a yacht of this size in the short timeframe that Westport's production schedule allows. As Henry puts it, "We're still learning just how custom our production boats can be."

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