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Yachting - July 2003 - An American Girl

Written by Jay Coyle


The Westport 98 is a build well suited for the U.S. custom yacht market

Westport Shipyard's new 98-foot motoryacht could be a bellwether of sorts. Over the last 20 years, Westport has proven an ability to sense shifts in the American market and clearly understand what makes American yachtsmen tick. With this in mind, the 98's distinct American flavor and her no-hassle, turnkey packaging may very well be an indication of where the market is headed.

Building a custom yacht from scratch can be one of the most rewarding ventures in yachting. It can also be time consuming, and the outcome can be unpredictable. To resolve this conundrum, many yacht builders employ a series approach to yacht construction in which much of a yacht's basic design is predetermined. While the scope of such programs has grown over the years, the process is really nothing new. With that said, Westport has completed the circle by building a modern series yacht to a fixed standard that is packaged with virtually everything a knowledgeable owner would require. The net result: no worries.

If there is a mainstream client in the American large yacht market, Westport has him in its sights. There will always be those who favor yachts that challenge the eye, however, it is my view that most American yachtsmen steer a course that is a few points to starboard. Think of it in terms of residential architecture: Classically inspired homes are hands down more popular than avant-garde human dwellings.

Just as the classically inspired house is a home, the 98 looks the way a modern yacht should. She was not inspired by a mud hut, pyramid or geodesic form. She was sculpted by designer Greg Marshall, whose modern eye clearly has a respect for the past. Her silhouette has familiar proportions but a softer, more rakish look than what came before. Her full-beam deck house is a compromise to tradition that creates more interior space. This seems reasonable; however, it means the crew will have to pass through public areas when moving about the yacht. The aftdeck is arranged with a seating area, a wet bar and stairs (port and starboard) that lead to the integral platform.

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