When highly experienced owners decided it was time to build a new yacht to take them on far-flung adventures, they had one particular goal in mind – to have her built in New England, USA, home of a fine tradition of seaworthy boats and fine craftsmanship. The result is a stunning new 95-foot (29m) modern interpretation of a classic pilothouse cutter that is taking shape at the Rockport Marine yard in Maine under the experienced management of MCM and with the build name Project Ouzel.
The MCM team boasts 35 years of experience across a diverse range of projects since the company’s founding in 1988, and more experience previously as builders and captains with hundreds of thousands of inshore and offshore miles under their belts. They have overseen the builds of 106 yachts, including 86 sailing yachts, for a combined length of 10,776 feet (3,284m) – making them the obvious choice for the owners of Project Ouzel, themselves experienced sailors whose previous yacht was a 64-footer from the renowned Baltic Yachts yard.
Project Ouzel, a contemporary classic
Project Ouzel is a blank-sheet design drawn to the owners’ brief by Langan Design Partners of Newport, RI. Her lines reflect the timeless elegance of a more classic style of yachting, but her rig and keel suggest there is more to her than meets the eye – it’s a balance reflected in her combination of classic sheerline, low-profile deckhouse and generous overhangs with a more performance-orientated rig, Park Avenue boom and modern keel.
“The design was entirely bespoke and the result of design meetings to ensure we ended up with a design that ticked all the clients’ boxes,” says Peter Wilson, co-founder and Partner of MCM. “She is perhaps a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” he adds, “as above the waterline she is a current interpretation of a classic pilothouse cutter, but below the waterline she has a modern underbody featuring a high-aspect rudder and a generous 12-foot (3.65m) draft keel.” The owners’ plan, he says, is to use the yacht for exploration cruising as well as coastal cruising and perhaps competing in a regatta at some point in the future.
Langan Design were well placed to interpret the design requests and combine them into a stunning new project. “In late 2021 we were contacted by Peter Wilson of MCM with an intriguing request: Could we meet with some potential clients interested in discussing a new 90+ foot project?” recalls Tom Degremont, Partner at Langan Design. “This couple had some serious sailing experience, an excellent eye for aesthetics, and a desire to build in New England. Not a request one turns down.”
For the interiors, the owners turned to Mark Whiteley after being introduced to him by Wilson, who says that Whiteley’s portfolio included two interiors that really appealed to the owners’ aesthetic – the 56-metre called Aquarius and the 36.4-metre Nautor Swan Audrey the First. The result is a simple and functional layout tied to a design sensibility that gives the interior a superyacht feel yet stays in keeping with the classic elements of the yacht. Bright painted upper panels will be complemented by stunning mahogany cabinetry in an airy mix of tradition and modern design.
Whiteley was instrumental in helping define the exterior styling, not only to tie it to the interior but also to marry the sheerline, seaworthy hull and performance-oriented aspects developed by Langan Design to a classic contemporary feel in the deckhouse and other deck details.
“The best Langan Design projects are the product of a true collaboration, and working with Mark on tying the interior spaces to what happens on deck was critical to the project’s success,” says Degremont. “Mark suggested some modifications to the house geometry and applied his magic to our original general arrangement – the resulting yacht has only improved.”
Building on experience
To bring Project Ouzel to life, the team turned to Maine’s Rockport Marine. With Langan Design already having built a sailing vessel at the yard they were in a good position to vouch for the yard’s passion, know-how and craftsmanship and, of course, the Downeast location was a perfect fit for the owners’ brief for a New England project.
Project Ouzel’s hull is a true hybrid of traditional and modern materials combined in a thoroughly modern approach, with a cold-moulded wood construction using Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar – a technique, says Degremont, that yields a strong shell while requiring less framing that a traditional plank-on-frame wooden yacht. It also happens to be a specialty of Rockport Marine.
However, her powerful sail plan means significant forces imposed on the structure, so the entire mid-section is made from high-strength carbon, which also reduces weight, reduces the volume of the internal structure, and provides ample internal tanks.
The engineering prowess continues to the systems, which will feature an EPA Tier-3 compliant 400hp engine that will deliver more than 1,000 miles under power at speeds over 10 knots. There is also a state-of-the-art hydraulic power pack operated off a 48V battery bank, backed up by a 32kW generator.
“The Ouzel team meetings have a high degree of collaboration between engineers, designer, interior architects and the builder,” says Sam Temple, President at Rockport Marine and himself a third-generation boatbuilder. “When the clients were choosing a builder they were focused on Maine boatbuilding, and they have given an opportunity for this unique industry to show the best it has to offer. Maine and, more broadly, the US Northeast contains a confluence of marine tradespeople, allowing elements of work to be shared across multiple shops.”
Adds Wilson: “This is a large and complex project for Rockport, so assembling the correct team around them including structural engineers, technical experts, mechanical, electrical, mast and rigging specialists is the key to success. It is a true esprit d’equipe.”
Construction on the hull of Project Ouzel is well underway, with the provisional delivery date set for July 2025. More details on this fascinating and exciting project will be released over the coming months.