Winn Willard: Bringing Venerable Designs Forward

By Eric Haun
Friday, October 18, 2013
Winn Willard

Hunt Yachts, founded by Raymond C. Hunt in the mid 20th century, is probably best known for its “deep-V” hull, a feature long revered as its signature. The business originated with the design of speedcruisers and motor yachts, evolving into military and commercial markets. Winn Willard, Director of Hunt Yachts and Vice President of Hunt Associates, has been with the company since 1970 and is responsible for some of Hunt’s most influential designs. Mr. Willard spoke with Maritime Reporter about Hunt’s tradition, industry presence and outlook on future building markets.   
 

What advantages do you reap from having three companies under the Hunt name?

    We’ve worked hard to expand the Hunt brand while continuing to carry out Ray’s life mission to always be innovative. Ray was never afraid to try a design just because it was different. To Ray, that was all the more reason to give it a shot.
When we decided to start Hunt Yachts, we had a beautifully designed Surfhunter. Still, some thought a design firm would never succeed at also building yachts. It was a risk. Today, Hunt Yachts offers 18 highly-customizable models, including day cruisers, coastal cruisers and express motoryachts. It broadened our customer-base, created a new line of business, and more importantly, offered additional revenue. The same is true for Hunt Marine Services. We saw a gap in the market to bring the same elite customer experience offered in our design and boat building process to the service sector. Creating a new business is a risk, but ironically, those risks have now diversified our business, allow the Hunt brand to grow in a time other brands were forced to fold.

What benefits do you gain from designing in both commercial and consumer markets? Are there drawbacks?


    From a business perspective, a major benefit is having a diversified client base allowing us continuity. We have never had a layoff. Quite often the commercial and the pleasure sides are on different business cycles. Then there are concepts, details and practices that one sees in each market that can be applied in the other. For example, a major draw for our larger pleasure craft customers, such as the Hunt 44, 52 or 68 Express Motoryacht, is knowing that the hull on their yacht is virtually identical to the hull on the Hunt-designed pilot boats servicing our ports. Pilot boats must perform at a high level, regardless of the weather conditions, which provides our consumer customers with peace of mind to tackle foul weather conditions. On the downside I see a lot of opportunities worldwide that we can’t always chase or concentrate on. There are only so many hours in a day.

What portion of your business is commercial?


    Right now, about 65-75%. There are signs of a comeback in the consumer markets, but it is very spotty and not strong yet. The commercial side is also slowing, in particular the military and quasi-military segment. We’ve been very fortunate to develop a reputation for reliability and dependability in the safety and security and pilot boat communities, in particular. Hunt pilot boats are used in more than two dozen of the busiest ports throughout the nation. Law enforcement agencies, the Coast Guard and Navy also use many Hunt designed boats to patrol oceans, rivers, lakes and even war zones.

What do you consider to be the most interesting commercial project you’ve recently worked on?


    Probably the two sizes of new, very fast and multifunctional patrol response boats for the NYPD. The first of them will be launched later this year. They will be capable of 40 knots, use waterjet propulsion and carry all the latest high-tech gear for disaster and terrorism response. Although we are unable to talk about it in detail (for obvious reasons) our extensive work in the homeland defense sector over the years is quite exciting.
 

Briefly discuss your business since the global economic trouble of 2008. How do the coming 12-24 months look?

    The pleasure boat market ground to a standstill in 2008-2009. Many companies are gone. Survivors are half their former size, and there is still too much capacity, so more may go yet. However, Hunt Yachts has actually tripled its business since 2009. We’ve used a zero-debt business model and an investor-backed system for rolling out new models to escape the crippling overhead which doomed other boat builders. At Hunt Design, we survived being small and flexible, the benefit of being in both the consumer and commercial markets. We had a big surge in the patrol boat market when the Navy, Coast Guard and local law enforcement geared up with new boats filling a long neglected void. Now that market is well satiated, so it will be mostly replacements and service going forward. We believe this will be an opportunity for Hunt Marine Services which further demonstrates the advantage of being such a diversified business.

Economic, legislative, competitive – looking ahead, what do you consider to be the biggest challenges to your business, and why?

    The worldwide general economic malaise has left little enthusiasm for fun of new business. To overcome this, Hunt must continue to innovate across all three business entities. Whether it be maximizing our commercial opportunities at Hunt Design, offering unique, owner-centric programs such as our two-year Carefree Purchase Program at Hunt Yachts, or finding new ways to add value for our customers at Hunt Marine Services, the most successful companies always tend to be ones where “innovation” is more than just a buzzword. Ray Hunt was always up for a challenge, designing and racing sailboats and powerboats in a style that no one could ever imagine at the time. Hunt will continue to look for new ways to carry on this tradition.

Winn Willard, Director of Hunt Yachts and Vice President of Hunt Associates, graduated from Babson College with a degree in Business Administration and Economics. He studied naval architecture at the University of Michigan, is a member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) and has been with Hunt Associates since 1970.
 


(As published in the October 2013 edition of Maritime Reporter & Engineering News - www.marinelink.com)

Maritime Reporter September 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

Coast Guard Foundation to Honor USCG in Miami

The Coast Guard Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to the education and welfare of all Coast Guard members and their families, announced today that

Maritime Broadband Opens Office in Greece

Maritime Broadband has expanded its worldwide footprint by opening an office, Maritime Broadband Hellas, in Athens, Greece. The new office addresses the growing

Renewable Energy: Schottel Tidal Turbines Ready For Use

In the last months Schottel  successfully tested its hydrokinetic turbines in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland. The full-scale tests included 260 operating hours under realistic conditions.

Shipbuilding

Catamaran Passenger Ferries Delivered in Angola

Incat Crowther announced the delivery a pair of 30m catamaran passenger ferries, Macôco and Panguila, to Instituto Marítimo e Portuário de Angola. The vessels, built by Astilleros Armon in Spain,

Offshore Oil: Lamprell Completes Caspian Sea Drilling Unit

UAE-based Lamprell said that it completed construction of the second Caspian Sea jackup drilling rig, Mercury, for service in the Caspian Sea.   "I am delighted

TRIYARDS Buys into Aluminium Shipbuilding Expertise

TRIYARDS Holdings Limited, an offshore vessel fabrication and engineering solutions provider to the oil and gas (O&G) industry, has added new capabilities, products

Workboats

Smith Brothers Chrtisten New Tug

Smith Brothers, Inc., Chesapeake Bay-based barge and marine equipment charter company, recently added the tug Capt. Kenneth to its fleet of inland and truckable tugs.

KOTUG’s Hybrid Rotortug Arrives in Rotterdam

RT Evolution, KOTUG’s new hybrid Rotortug, has arrived in the Port of Rotterdam on Saturday, Oct. 18. In the coming weeks, Damen Shipyards Group will complete

Rolls-Royce to Design, Equip Stern Trawler for Ramoen

The Armon shipyard in Gijón, Spain has entered into a contract to build a new Stern Trawler for the Norwegian fishing company Ramoen. The vessel will be a Rolls-Royce design,

Navy

WWII Wrecks Found off North Carolina

German U-boat 576 and freighter Bluefields found within 240 yards A team of researchers led by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries have discovered two

US & ROK Navies to Participate in Exercise Clear Horizon

The U.S. and Republic of Korea (ROK) navies will participate in Exercise Clear Horizon, October 20-24, in waters south of the Korean peninsula. Clear Horizon

Mount Whitney Departs Batumi, Georgia

The U.S. 6th Fleet command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) departed Batumi, Georgia, Oct. 18 after completing a successful port visit. While in Batumi,

Patrol Boats

Austal Launches 5th CCP Boat

Austal launched yesterday its fifth in-series Cape Class Patrol Boat (CCPB) at the Company’s Australian Defence Facility in Henderson, Western Australia. Cape

China, Vietnam Pledge Maritime Cooperation

China and Vietnam have agreed to "address and control" maritime disputes, state media said on Friday, as differences over the potentially energy-rich South China

ST Marine Celebrates Naming of RNOV Al Seeb

Singapore Technologies Marine Ltd (ST Marine), the marine arm of Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd (ST Engineering), held the naming ceremony today for

Naval Architecture

New Standard for LNG Cargo Containment Systems

Wilhelmsen Technical Solutions (WTS) said it has successfully completing the gas trial for the first LNG carrier built to a Boil Off Rate (BOR) of 0.08% per day.

Performance by Design: Hydrodynamics for High-Speed Vessels

The new book “Performance by Design: Hydrodynamics for High-Speed Vessels” will be introduced on October 30 at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, Donald L.

NMRA Awards Scholarship to Yacht Design Students

The National Marine Representatives Association (NMRA) awarded two scholarships to students pursuing careers in the field. Noah Luff of Ventura, California is one

Coast Guard

Coast Guard Foundation to Honor USCG in Miami

The Coast Guard Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to the education and welfare of all Coast Guard members and their families, announced today that

Sunken Barge Salvage Stops Traffic on Chicago River

The U.S. Coast Guard said it is restricting vessel traffic on the Chicago River to allow for salvage of a sunken barge. All cargo has been removed from the sunken

USCG Reopens Port Allen Post Hurricane Ana

The Coast Guard Captain of the Port reopened Port Allen in Kauai Monday morning after surveying crews deemed it  safe for transit. The maritime public is advised

Yachts

Ocean Training Launches Blended Learning Course

Major revisions to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (The STCW Convention) came into force in 2012.

The Hydroptere Flies with Finesse

The hydrofoil trimaran Hydroptere will try for another nautical record with support from biotechnology leader Finesse Solutions After a year resting in Long Beach,

Oceangrip in Partnership with Legacy Paddlesport

OceanGrip, a leading manufacturer of high-quality, marine-grade non-skid padding protection, announced today that it has been selected as the original equipment

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Standards Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Repair Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.3222 sec (3 req/sec)