In late summer 2004, Tom Lewis, who'd made a name and fortune in real estate, was looking for a new challenge. An avid boater and charterer, he also wanted to step up from his 58-foot Hatteras to a yacht in the 100-foot range. In the process he discovered that there was an "enormous shortage of docking" in South Florida, which got the wheels inside his entrepreneurial mind spinning. And when a friend mentioned that Broward Marine’s ten-acre yard in Dania Beach, Florida, complete with a 12-foot-deep marina and unrestricted access to the Atlantic, was for sale, he decided to check it out. When he got there and discovered that Broward had also finished a 106-foot all-aluminum yacht, he made an offer to buy the yacht and the marina and in the process jumped immediately into the helm seat of one of the most recognizable brands in American yacht-building history.
It was a long way from when he was a five-year-old begging his relatives to contribute to his self-described “tin-can” boat fund. Nevertheless, it was a challenge Lewis says he was cut out for based on his understanding of the luxury-goods market. "I had a good run building high-end, resort-style, luxury properties, and it’s a similar buyer, really; nobody needs [a yacht], but it’s a passion, and I understand that passion and that client." And so Broward Marine was reborn.
Fast forward to this year’s Miami Yacht and Brokerage Show, where Lewis and his crew debuted what they’ve dubbed the beginning of a "new era for Broward": the 120 Widebody Motoryacht, the first 120 built under Lewis' ownership. Based on the buzz and my time aboard at the launch party, I’d say there’s definitely truth to that statement.
Although Broward is on track to once again be a force in American yacht building, even a glimpse of the 120 reveals European influences, and that’s intentional. It's part of the revamped company’s mantra of having the in-house design team collaborate with outside designers; previous builds had been created solely in house. The ultimate goal, says Lewis, is to create a vessel that has an American feel and European touches.
Having no background in boatbuilding, Lewis' biggest challenge was finding the right team to make his dream a reality. One of his first steps was to seek out U.K.-based designer Evan Marshall to style an all-aluminum superstructure with more curves and fewer hard angles than previous Browards and with huge windows that sweep the entire length of her deckhouse to allow maximum light inside. For the interior, Lewis looked even farther—to Italy—and commissioned Roberto Lottini of Genesis to design a sumptuous space that features etched-glass china cabinets in the main-deck dining room and in the galley, traditional high-gloss woodwork instead of the satin-finish found on many of today's megayachts, and marble floors and foyers throughout the yacht.
This article originally appeared in the May 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.