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Yachts International 2011 - High Stakes Fun

Written by Cecile Gauert

Yachts International - Westport 164

While practical, the term "series" is a bit inaccurate. In the 1990s, the Washington based Westport Shipyards gave up custom yacht building and quite successfully so. But this said, it does not build cookie-cutter copies and is perfectly willing to deviate within reason from its models' spec list to satisfy a client.

"[Westport President] Daryl Wakefield and his team have been very accommodating to me," says Boardwalk owner Tilman Fertitta, who's recently rewarded the shipyard's flexibility by acquiring his third Westport. Before the 164, he had a 130, and a 112 before that.

"I have made huge changes in several of them," he says. It is not that he doesn't appreciate what Westport does; in fact, he has returned to Westport precisely because the experienced builder has always delivered. Fertitta does not gamble with the little leisure and family time he can carve out of his action-packed schedule.

"They've done the right thing every time; they offer a good warranty, and I have not had any problems, so why would I change?"

As far as his hands-on approach is concerned, he says, "Don't forget, I'm a builder and I enjoy getting involved." Even with its impressive scale (163'10" LOA, 490 gross tons, six staterooms, commercial-grade galley, diving locker, massive radar arch and helipad), Boardwalk pales in comparison with the multiple projects this energetic, 53-year-old Galveston native handles from his company's Houston headquarters.

Landside, one of his most recent projects is a Las Vegas legend, the Golden Nugget Casino and Hotel on historic Fremont Street. He's invested energy and a significant amount of resources into what once was the world's largest casino. After buying the resort in 2005, he built a lagoon, added a nightclub and a couple of restaurants, and in 2008 broke ground on a 500-bedroom hotel addition—all this a good distance away from the glitzier and trendier part of town. At the time, a financial storm was brewing, and nearly everyone else was battening down the hatches.

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