Anyone who loves to sail will have chartered, raced against or will own a Dubois designed yacht. And with good reason, as founder of Dubois Naval Architects Ltd, Ed Dubois has over 35 years of experience delivering award-winning sailing yachts. Since making a name for himself in 1976 with the design of Borsalino Trois, which won a number of awards, Ed and his team strive to create projects that stand out. Here Ed reveals what makes a sailing yacht memorable and the challenges the studio had to overcome in the design of 54m Tiara.


Ed Dubois

What are the key features of a sailing yacht that make her memorable for you?
For any sailing yacht designer the most important factor has to be sailing performance and seaworthiness. Coming from a racing yacht design background and genesis, performance is the most important factor. Efficiency under sail, speed to windward, and the ability of the yacht, regardless of size, to get to windward safely even in the worst weather conditions — these are the primary factors. At the heart of sailing yacht design is the ability to achieve a balance between performance in light weather, and speed and seaworthiness in poor weather — both upwind and downwind. 
The second most important feature is the aesthetics and the beauty of exterior lines. We take great care and derive enormous satisfaction from creating a harmony of line and also in understanding the true purpose of the yacht, from the owner’s perspective. 

How have owner tastes and requests developed over the past 10 years?
For sailing yachts, and particularly sailing superyachts, there has been an emphatic movement towards performance under sail and elegance.
The preferred interior style and decoration is usually subjective but space planning is our domain and, from our perspective, this is a vital area of our work. I think space planning heavily influences the quality of lifestyle.


Ed Dubois on board 39.5m Altair

What was your most challenging design request, and how did you overcome it?

One of the most interesting challenges was the design of Tiara, launched in 2004. The young owner had trained as an architect and wanted a ‘duplex’ apartment within the yacht. In other words, he wanted an upper and lower floor, self-contained and private. The solution was to place this immediately forward of the central engine room with a private living space at main deck level, forward of the superstructure offering great visibility and a large full-width bedroom suite immediately below.
The inclusion of a passageway to the side of the engine room enables the owner to visit his children in the guest area without having to go through the main salon. I think this layout is unique and it worked very well for the client’s purposes.
Additionally, the design brief required an enclosed bridge, effectively giving Tiara two windscreen levels. This is something not easily handled with regard to aesthetics and beautiful lines. To combat this we created a very strong and emphatic sheerline, rising to the bow, which has striking overhang and achieves a slightly concave (clipper) bow. This draws the eye to the power of the bow and the apparent height of the superstructure is diminished.
This was a delightful challenge, and Tiara’s performance has always been noted and indeed was demonstrated effectively when she was a very close second, to the Dubois-designed Drumbeat, in the Rolex Transatlantic Challenge 2005.