Duker took to the stage with Peter Hawrylewicz and Ken Lieber from PHDesign, his design team on Sybaris, to talk about the unique relationship between him and his designers and offer up some candid words of wisdom and experience on ownership.
"We've known and worked with Bill for 24 years now so friendship has been so important in building Sybaris," Hawrylewicz told the audience, explaining that the trust that comes with friendship is what has made jumping in at the deep end on their first ever yacht project work. "When Bill offered us the job I knew it was an amazing opportunity and was actually only afraid that we would not make the most of it."
Duker described the project as one of collaboration; between him and PHDesign, between them and the yard, between art and architecture. Throughout this keynote session, Duker's passion was palpable. But he admitted that when passion and art meet economics there was tension.
"There is always tension between the economics of a build and the art and passion of it," he said. "Almost every shipyard owner I have ever met is extremely passionate. But the boat building business is a difficult one to be in. Much like the boat buying business, actually." Duker's comment hinted at the fact that Sybaris' delivery is estimated to be delayed by one year - the original delivery date was set for this month, but it now looks like it will be more like June 2016. "I don't like being behind, but it is often a reality that is driven by the economics that confront a yard," he said. When asked if he had learned lessons from this project he said that if he could go back in time he would be more attentive to the economics of the build.
Despite his evident frustrations at the delay, Duker insisted that this was a project that still commands a significant amount of passion. "Being a yacht owner is the best thing in the world," he said, saying that he loves inviting his friends on his boats to experience the joys of yachting with him. "And many of them own boats of their own now," he added. "I always say, if you aren't having fun on your boat, kill yourself, because you really can't have more fun that you do on board."