Future Faces of Yacht Design

Webb students James Morrissey, Bree Louie, and Alex Dzinbal prepare to present a yacht design to their professor.

Ray Hunt. Jack Hargrave. John Rybovich. Strike up a conversation about iconic yacht designers and you’ll likely hear these names tossed about—and rightfully so.

A hull model is tested in the 90-foot test tank.

But would you be able to name an up-and-coming designer under the age of 40? 30? What about 20? Who are the designers of tomorrow?

That’s the question I set out to answer on a recent visit to the Webb Institute, a naval architecture and marine engineering school, located in the shadow of New York City in Glen Cove on Long Island. Walk through the double gates, past the immaculately maintained campus, and into the half-hull-lined main building and you immediately understand that this is no ordinary college. With an enrollment fewer than 100 students, Webb is the tutition-free home to some of the most promising math and science students from around the country. Besides boasting staggering SAT scores, grades, and extracurricular involvement, each student was personally vetted by the institute’s president—a practice that dates back to Webb’s founding in 1889.

The students are a family of sorts, pushing one another to strive for excellence. When they’re not studying fluid dynamics or crunching calculus equations, they’re getting extensive hands-on training during months aboard Merchant Marine ships or interning with builders and design firms around the world. According to Dean Matthew Werner, about 10 percent of graduates go on to work in yacht design.

During my visit, three students, James Morrissey, Bree Louie, and Alex Dzinbal presented early renderings for an expedition yacht they’re designing for class. Besides designing the hull, they’re experimenting with Rolls-Royce azimuthing drives and researching what they refer to as, “the increasingly important use of greener systems such as diesel/electric propulsion, solar panels, and hydrogen fuel.” They believe the way they can make their design mark is with, “one small change at a time.”

With thinking like that, don’t be surprised if, a few years from now, Power & Motoryacht is covering the innovative design accomplishments of Hunt, Hargrave, Rybovich, Morrissey, Louie, and Dzinbal.

Explore more of the Webb Institute here.