Lean and lithe yet sound and fast, the British-built Spirit 46 Bamboozle is a thoroughly contemporary conveyance with the form and soul of a classic. "Yacht Style" from our October 2011 issue.
The company’s history is as interesting as the yacht itself. Established in the early 1990s by a lifelong water rat named Sean McMillan who learned his ropes off England’s rugged southern coast and the Thames Estuary (“If you can sail there, you can sail anywhere”), the enterprise was launched after its founder ditched his gig running a London ad agency to follow his passion for designing and building boats along the shoreline of his youth.
“Spirit is a pretty well known brand in Europe and the United Kingdom, but this is our first foray into the United States,” he said last September while exhibiting Bamboozle at the Newport International Boat Show. “We started 17 years ago with the intention of building very beautiful, modern, classic boats. I just don’t see why all modern boats have to be fat, white, and plastic. There are other alternatives."
“The most important decision we made,” he continued, “was not to go down the pastiche route, to just try and make a copy of something. The most significant thing was getting away from the long keel/keel-hung rudder configuration that all classics had. If you start with a ‘narrowish’ boat—but not uncomfortably narrow—with a firm turn in the bilge so it’s got good form stability, and shallow rocker, you’re making a small hole in the water, with very efficient foils and a very efficient rig. You can’t really miss, frankly. Wrap it all up in a very beautiful package, and thankfully, I’m pleased to say, we’ve now built 50 boats of varying sizes, and they’ve been very well received.” Spirit offers yachts measuring from 46 to 130 feet, and it’s recently introduced two new deckhouse models, the DH 50 and 57.
What also separates Spirit from almost every other builder of traditional-style series yachts is the boats’ wood/epoxy construction. “I’ve been building boats this way for about 25 years now,” said McMillan, “and have gradually perfected a technique where we could get the hulls lighter and lighter and lighter in weight” without sacrificing structural integrity.