Top 10 Books on Yacht Design

In some parts of the world, Yachts are one of the most commonly spotted vessels that traverse across the coastlines and oceans of earth’s water bodies.

From towering vessels than span nearly 130 feet long to smaller versions that measure just 33 feet in length, yachts are favoured by elite members of society, competitive sportspersons, and tourists from around the globe.

They are generally classified as powered or sail propelled vessels that are built for one of two broad purposes: racing and cruising.

Racing yachts are a common sight along many coastlines, as the sport has gained recognition in recent years. These vessels are built to be light and agile in the water.

They are generally sail propelled and come with a variety of configurations. In general, they do not sport more than 3 to 4 crew members due to space and weight restrictions imposed on the vessel.

Cruising yachts, also known as pleasure yachts, are private or government-owned vessels that are solely used for ferrying passengers or for conducting cruises. They are considerably larger than racing yachts and are built to accommodate more people on board.

They are manned by crews and provide the luxuries of a normal ship. They are classified into different types based on their purpose and ownership. Some cruising yachts that are extremely large (usually above 130 feet in length) are classified as superyachts.

Yachts are classified into categories A – D depending on their ability to handle wind forces and waves. Category A and B are used for oceanic voyages or long passages where winds of 8-40 knots or more can be expected alongside wave heights of 13 feet. Category C is more suited for exposed coastal regions with winds of 6-27 knots and wave heights of 6.6 feet.

Category D yachts are built to handle low wind speeds of 4-16 knots and small weight heights of just 4.6 feet. They are more adept at inland navigation where there is not much danger posed by poor weather conditions.

Designing a yacht is an incredibly precise operation since these vessels must be built to withstand reasonable winds. In addition, they are built as light as possible without compromising on structural strength.

Lastly, they should provide all the facilities of a full ship, while using less than a quarter of the normal space. All these challenges make yacht designing and construction an exciting and challenging field.

In this article, we have included the top ten books on yacht designing. Although in no particular order, they are a must-read for everyone in the maritime industry- from novices looking to start their career in yacht designing, to experienced hands aiming at a refresher course.

Many of you might be surprised to know that the majority of the books in this list were originally published in the late 20th century. The reason for this was due to the early boom and burgeoning demand for yachts during this period.

Several master designers perfected their trade and wrote books to pass the knowledge on to the later generations. Through several reprints and newer editions, these books are still relevant to present-day readers.

Best Books On Yacht Design (In no particular order)

1. Ed Burnett Yacht Designs: A Selection of Plans, Drawings and Notes

By Ed Burnett

From one of Britain’s most acclaimed naval architects and designers, this book provides a detailed explanation of the steps and processes that go into making one of the most complex vessels on the face of the earth.

Replete with information and guidance from his personal notes, it serves as a perfect guide for anyone looking to gain theoretical knowledge of yacht designing.

The book contains several hand-picked plans and drawings that the author developed during his years of designing yachts. A notable feature is a homage paid to British vessels and yachts that served the general populace for several centuries.

It is undoubtedly the perfect book to begin one’s foray into the world of yacht building.

Ed Burnett Yacht Designs: A selection of plans, drawings and notes
  • Hardcover Book
  • Ed Burnett (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 168 Pages - 10/30/2018 (Publication Date) - Left Field Editions (Publisher)

2. Principles of Yacht Design

By Lars Larsson, Rolf Eliasson, and Michael Orych

Considered to be one of the most detailed and complete guides for the art of yacht designing, this book serves as an excellent technical manual and guide.

Complete with minute details and minor points that make all the difference, this 350 plus page guide provides a clear and accurate depiction of this industry. The book has numerous facts and figures to back the technical points and claims furnished throughout its pages.

Included are the various methods, nautical terms, and common specifications. There are also numerous sections that analyze the hull design, yacht hydrostatics, propeller and rudder construction, and ISO standards. For both trainees and master designers alike, this guide is a must-have in your personal collection.

Principles of Yacht Design
  • Hardcover Book
  • Lars Larsson (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 01/03/2014 (Publication Date) - International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press (Publisher)

3. Yacht Design According to Perry: My Boats and What Shaped Them

By Robert Perry

Written in a clear and easy to understand manner, author Robert Perry presents a compelling read on the fundamentals of yacht designs. Through the various designs that were produced during his illustrious career, he goes into the minor details that turned his vessels from average boats into high-performance yachts.

Famed as the creator of a long line of highly successful racing yachts, his knowledge and designing prowess is visible in this 240-page guide. A notable feature of this book is the insight that Perry provides into what inspired him to begin designing and constructing yachts. For aspiring naval architects, it is a must-read for the sheer value and insight it brings to the table.

Yacht Design According to Perry: My Boats and What Shaped Them
  • Hardcover Book
  • Perry, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages - 12/12/2007 (Publication Date) - International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press (Publisher)

4. Elements of Yacht Design: The Original Edition of the Classic Book of Yacht Design (Seafarer Books)

By Norman L. Skene and Maynard Bray

Famed naval architect Norman Skene’s books have been highly valued and prized amongst novices and experts alike, for the in-depth study of the finer details of yacht design. Although out of circulation since the late 20th century, the most recent reprint of the original book is a must-have for collectors.

Complete with the designs and workings that were actively used during his illustrious career spanning several decades, it serves as an essential guide. Historian Maynard Bray provides an introduction to the works of Skene and the features of the book that make it a must-read.

An interesting feature that differentiates this book from the original one is the expanded topics that are included to make it relevant to the current readers. It also focuses on a more practical approach to yacht designing.

Elements of Yacht Design: The Original Edition of the Classic Book on Yacht Design (Seafarer Books)
  • Skene, Norman L. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 09/01/2001 (Publication Date) - Sheridan House (Publisher)

5. Yacht Design Explained: A Boat Owner’s Guide to the Principles and Practice of Design

By Steve Killing and Douglas Hunter

From author Douglas Hunter and expert yacht designer Steve Killing comes this masterful guide for the domain of yacht designing.

As a book aimed at being relevant to everyone from students to expert designers and competition racers, this book is a must-read for all those who are keen on learning from the experiences of one of the most celebrated yacht designers of the 20th century.

What makes this book stand out is the rich illustrations and notes that can be found on almost every page, making it incredibly easy to understand. The book is complete with vivid graphics, charts, plans, photographs, and detailed technical guides to the constructions and designs of the various components of yachts.

Through the various designs of commercial yachts, the complex math and physics behind vessel behaviour have been lucidly explained such that the reader is able to grasp how different types of boats respond to weather and ocean conditions.

Yacht Design Explained: A Boat Owner's Guide to the Principles and Practice of Design
  • Hardcover Book
  • Hunter, Doug (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 08/17/1998 (Publication Date) - W. W. Norton & Company (Publisher)

6. Understanding Yacht Design: For Boat Buyers, Owners and Novice Yacht Designers

By Ian Nicolson

This book serves as an excellent guide for novices, owners, and boat buyers, and provides the reader with a well thought out and detailed understanding of how yachts operate. It includes numerous examples, real-life incidents, and facts to educate the reader about the minute details that go into making performance yachts.

For novices, it is a must-have due to the clear and concise manner in which complex calculations have been presented. Interestingly, the book focuses more on providing practical knowledge to the reader and replaces most of the unwieldy calculations with simpler principles.

For owners and buyers, the book is essential since it focuses on providing them with a complete understanding of the various factors that must be taken into account prior to constructing or buying a yacht.

Overall, it serves to provide the inner workings of yachts and includes several important pointers on how to successfully harness the most out of your vessel.

Understanding Yacht Design
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Nicolson, Ian (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 128 Pages - 02/07/2003 (Publication Date) - *Wiley Nautical (Publisher)

7. Worthy of the Sea: K. Aage Nelson and his Legacy of Yacht Design

By Maynard Bray and Tom Jackson

Aimed at presenting the works of lesser-known but the gifted naval architect and master designer Knud Aage Nielsen, this book presents a clear insight into some of his greatest projects. Presented by historians Maynard Bray and Tom Jackson, this book is a must-read for novices and experts alike.

Through the designs and plans for some of Aage’s most famous yachts and vessels, it serves as a guide to the various design aspects that are a must while designing any seaworthy yacht.

Complete with a brief biography and detailed technical analysis of his works, a thorough understanding of the workings of naval architects has been provided in this compelling read.

The book is well suited for people looking to design and construct coastal and offshore yachts, with a special emphasis on wooden boats.

Worthy of the Sea: K. Aage Nelson and His Legacy of Yacht Design
  • Hardcover Book
  • Bray, Maynard (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 12/01/2006 (Publication Date) - Tilbury House Distr (Publisher)

8. Philip L. Rhodes and His Yacht Designs

By Richard Henderson

Based on the master naval architect and builder Philip L. Rhodes, this book by author Richard Henderson is a must-read for its lucid and concise style. It presents the designs and plans of several noteworthy Rhodes designs and is complete with the notes that accompanied each design.

It includes a brief history of Rhodes, his origin, involvement, and contributions to the yachting community. The amazingly detailed pictures that are provided in the book also provide a more aesthetic component to the technical book that it is intended to be.

This 400 plus page book is a must-have for yacht designers and those interested in the workings of one the most celebrated yacht designers of the world.

Philip L. Rhodes and His Yacht Designs
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Hardcover Book
  • Henderson, Richard (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 415 Pages - 09/25/1981 (Publication Date) - International Marine Pub, Maine (Publisher)

9. Cruising Yachts: Design and Performance

By Thomas Harrison Butler

Author, medical practitioner, and boat designer Thomas Harrison Butler presents a technical understanding of the yacht building industry in this wonderful read on the subject. Originally published in the early 1900s, this book has withstood the test of time by remaining relevant in today’s times.

Complete with the design and performance considerations that are essential to yachts, this book is essential for anyone keen on developing a foundation in yacht designing.

The book stands out for having been in reprint ever since its first publication and provides insight into the various plans and theories that were prevalent during his time. The book also briefly covers the “metacentric shelf formula” of vessel design, of which Butler was a leading advocate.

Cruising Yachts: Design and Performance
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Lodestar Books (Publisher)

10. Yacht Designs

By William Garden

From acclaimed naval architect and illustrator William Garden, his take on yacht designs is a compelling read that keeps the reader enthralled by the various details that go into designing yachts.

This book is primarily aimed at providing the newer generation of naval architects with a clear pictorial understanding of what goes into generating vessel designs.

Through several diagrams, plans, and handwritten notes on the subject, the reader is gradually made to develop the mindset of a naval architect and is provided with a solid foundation upon which to begin their career.

The numerous notes that are provided throughout the guide make this book all the more valuable. Interestingly, this book dwells more on the history and inspiration behind each vessel, as opposed to being overly technical.

It is an essential read for anyone looking to gain an in-depth understanding of yacht drawing and designs.

Yacht Designs
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Hardcover Book
  • Garden, William (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 216 Pages - 09/25/1977 (Publication Date) - Intl Marine Pub (Publisher)

Over to you..

Do you think there is any other book that can be added to this list?

Let’s know in the comments below.

You may also like to read:- The Awe-Inspiring Adastra Superyacht

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About Author

Ajay Menon is a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, with an integrated major in Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture. Besides writing, he balances chess and works out tunes on his keyboard during his free time.

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