Lines and Chines Page 2

Lines and Chines — Dave Martin
Lines and Chines
Part 2: Dave Martin

By Tim Clark — February 2001
 More of this Feature
• Part 1: Dave Martin
• Part 2: Dave Martin
• Part 3: Dave Martin

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Given that his father owned a marine engine business and that as a child Martin passed five boatyards every day on his walk to grammar school, it's difficult to determine precisely when that education began. He shared the Atlantic City environs where he grew up with nearly every notable boatbuilder in southern New Jersey. In 1948, at 18, he went to work for Russell Post, who lived just down the street and ran Egg Harbor Yachts with John E. Leek, father of Ocean Yachts founder Jack Leek. When John E. Leek left to found Pacemaker a year later, Martin joined him.

"My father'd been hollerin' all these years that most designers and engineers never knew anything about the shop, didn't have the slightest idea how anything was built," Martin recalled in gruff South Jersey tones. "I felt that if I got in on the ground floor of a new company doing custom boats, I'd learn all the operations."

It was at Pacemaker that he met C. P. Leek, retired patriarch of the yacht-building dynasty, whose career had begun at the turn of the century. Their encounters taught him an important lesson he has kept in mind ever since: "Pay attention to the old guys. If you wanna be a smart aleck and say this is old-fashioned and that's old-fashioned, they'll shut up and won't tell you anything. But the old guys like Grandpop Leek, John E. Leek, Arno Apel, Lockwood Haggas--I paid attention to `em. One of the reasons my yachts are as efficient as they are today is because I listened to what they said even when it was in conflict with the textbooks."

During Martin's early `50s stints at Sparkman & Stephens, one of the world's largest yacht design firms, he continued to build his education from sources beyond the textbooks. He worked with such distinguished designers as Bill Shaw, Bob Harris, and Taylor Newell and technical authorities such as Richard Ketchem and Francis Kenney. "It was like a melting pot of all different young designers that came from all over the world," he told me. "I got a bigger picture, a more sophisticated outlook. I was really, really lucky, because they had a lot of very good naval architects there."

Next page > Dave Martin, Part 3 > Page 1, 2, 3

This article originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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