4 Simple Questions with Sailboat Designer Bob Perry

"No matter how hard I work on the aesthetics, I never arrive at a place where I feel the boat is "perfect". It may look perfect on Monday, but by Tuesday I will know I can improve it." -Bob Perry

This is the third entry in a series of my mini-interviews with prominent sailboat designers. My guest this time is SailFarLiveFree guest blog veteran and one of my personal favorite designers - Bob Perry. You probably already know many of Bob's designs, but some of my personal favorites are the Babas (30, 35, 40), the Nordic/Valiant Esprit 37, and the Lafitte 44. It's hard to sum up Bob's sailboat design work in just a paragraph, so instead of trying I'll just give you a few more examples of his production designs: Islander Freeport 36/38, Norseman 447, several Passports (456, 470, 485, 515), Tashiba 31/36/40, Tayana 37, and many Valiants (32, 40, 42, 47, 50). And did you know Bob also designed the Westsail 38, the big CTs (48-72), and the very unique Duffy 22 electric boat, Far Harbour 39 "Container Yacht" and  the Pacific Seacraft South Sea 61?

A Baba 40 reaching along nicely.

That's really just scratching the surface because I didn't include several other production designs or any of Bob's custom designs and powerboats. If you're interested in more of his work, check out his website or read his book, Yacht Design According to Perry.

As always, I want to give a very big THANK YOU to Bob for participating! And now on to my questions and Bob's responses:

1) Sum up your sailboat design philosophy in a few sentences.
My design philosophy is to deliver to the client a pleasant looking boat that will perform very well and make both him and me happy for a long time.

 2) What's one of your personal favorite sailboats that you designed and why?
This answer changes as time goes along. But right now, I'd say FRANCIS LEE is my favorite on account of it making the client and his wife very happy and performing beyond our expectations. It's also two years old so it has an age advantage. It's "fresh".

One of 4 custom carbon fiber 43s Bob is currently working on for one client.

3) Is there a sailboat design and/or designer that inspired your own work or career?
Yes. I have always been inspired by the work of Bill Garden. I met Bill when I was 15 years old and I crewed on OCEANUS with him. Aesthetically, he was a genius.

4) Is it more difficult to design a sailboat that looks good or sails good?
No differences for me. The two go hand in hand. But performance elements are easily defined and controlled while aesthetic issues are more nebulous and may take more effort. No matter how hard I work on the aesthetics, I never arrive at a place where I feel the boat is "perfect". It may look perfect on Monday, but by Tuesday I will know I can improve it.

Thanks again Bob!

If you're interested in more design perspectives, visit SailFarLiveFree's Sailboat Reviews page. There you'll find more articles written for SFLF by Bob Perry as well as Ted Brewer, Bill Dixon, Chuck Paine and others.

Lastly, stayed tuned for the next interview in this series!


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