Yachts International - September 2006
Written by Scott Pearson
Given the success of their 112' raised pilothouse and 130' tri-deck series, Westport's management team understandably could have maintained the status quo, a safe strategy in view of their bugling book of orders for the two yachts, certainly enough work to keep the company's yards busy for years to come, and reason to anticipate continuing brisk sales well into the future.
But no. For a builder whose 42 years have been characterized by aggressive – albeit calculated – risk-taking, status quo never has been an option. Nor was it an option in early 2002, when the company first considered taking the enterprise to the next level, in the form of a bigger and better yacht designed to compete on an international scale.
For Westport Shipyards, the past was prologue. Founded in 1964 in its namesake town on Washington's Pacific Coast, the yard initially built commercial vessels, but ultimately moved into the luxury yacht sector. Another important transition was the segue in the late 1990s from custom to series-built yachts. Together, the Westport 112 and 130 embody the apotheosis of that strategy, with respectively 25 and 15 vessels built and delivered to date.
The two yachts also have enabled Westport to refine the series methodology, continually improving quality and shaving non-productive hours out of the build to offer clients a firm delivery date, predictable performance and a price with no surprises. "The 112 and the 130 have given us the skills to raise the bar on the series concept," says Westport Vice President Phil Purcell. So, confident of their business model, the Westport team looked at the 150' plus range, purely custom territory at the time, and asked, "Why not?"
Four years later, hull number one of Westport's new 164' tri-deck series was lowered into the water at the company's new yard at Port Angeles, Wash., a facility erected expressly for the construction of this one design. Two hours later the yacht, christened Vango, cast off its lines and departed for the first of many sea trials, and interval that, according to Purcell, reflects the company's insistence on a thoroughly engineered build. "Its more common for new yacht to sit at the commissioning dock for days, weeks or months of finish work and systems checks prior to any sea trials," he says. "The 164 hit the water ready to go, with all systems tested, engines pre-run and only a few finish details left to complete."