It’s easy to become a Yacht Designer. You file for a business license with your city or county and get business cards made up with your name on it stating you are a Yacht Designer. It then becomes very difficult to be a Yacht Designer, as you have to convince someone that they should commission you to design them a boat. And for sailing, that means a winning race boat. Like the Bible, it takes a bunch of “begats” to put you into that position. For Bruce Marek, co-founder and former Vice President of San Diego based Nelson/Marek Yacht Design, it started with Boy Scouts at a local church. That had a Sea Scout Unit. In Chicago. Sea Scouts begat learning sailing on Lake Michigan, which begat a college sailing career at Notre Dame. Architecture gave way to Engineering when Bruce became captain of the sailing team his mid sophomore year. Architecture Juniors studied for a year in Rome, and that just wouldn’t work. A sailing buddy from Northwestern had been contacted about a summer job in Chicago on an Alden 61 Yawl. That begat Bruce’s first Chicago-Mackinac Race. A post race week in Mackinaw City for the Great Lakes Cruising Club begat a friendship with one of the guys who worked for one of the ferry systems. This begat a bonfire on the beach, a case of beer and a lot of bragging/boasting about being able to design a boat to win the Mackinac Race. This was 1973. In 1980, the 36’ “RUSH” was designed at N/M and promptly won the North American One Ton Cup and the Chicago Mac. For the friend Bruce made in 1973.
That begat the 39’ STARS and STRIPES for the 1981 Admiral’s Cup. Which begat production boats for Schock and Morgan Yachts. And semicustom and custom sailboats and several Transpac ULDB Sleds, including Roy Disney’s first Pyewacket. And sailing with and co-designing boats for Lowell North and Dennis Conner. And of course, “little Stars & Stripes” begat an ongoing series of “Stars and Stripes”. The 1987 America’s Cup Winner was a collaboration of N/M Yacht Design, Chance Yacht Design and Pedrick Yacht Design (I still have to mention all three).
Stock Markets crash and life changes, so Bruce’s Civil Engineering Degree took over for a while. The 1990 Elizabeth City Based 40’ “Cash Flow” reset Bruce’s east coast marine industry involvement, and the mast for Cash Flow begat two stints at Sparcraft Masts in Charlotte. The second time to help engineer carbon fiber masts. And the first Sparcraft hitch morphed into a local Wilmington, NC job as in house designer and new yacht project manager at Bennett Brothers Yachts. The second stint at Sparcraft was cut by corporate cutback (it was part of IMI that included Lewmar Boat Hardware, Navtec Rigging Systems and Kenyon Stoves). That begat more “real engineering” wood I-joists and LVL beams. Which Begat a 1998 Structural 1 Engineering P.E. License in addition to his 1989 Civil P.E.
In 1999 the NCEES offered its first national Professional Engineering in Naval Architecture Exam. It all had to do with NVIC 10-92 P.E. Certification of inspected passenger vessels. Bruce passed that, too. (The first year it was called Ship Design Engineering, as SNAME was concerned with blowback from the AIA, which never happened.) In 2006, to keep up with the kids, the P.E. Discipline test in Mechanical Engineering was taken and passed.
The civil engineering begat a job in 1999 with the developer on Bald Head Island, North Carolina, a sailing buddy (on his N/M Schock Santana 30/30). Which begat two 82’ aluminum catamaran passenger ferries for the 18 round trips a day route between Southport, NC and Bald Head Island. More Begats through IBEX and for several years being the SNAME PERC Small Craft Session instructor, and Bruce is theoretically retired with a plate that still includes the 104’ wood 1927 ex- Presidential Motor Yacht “SEQUOIA” and ABS High Speed Craft Engineering for catamaran designer Jody Culbert of a 50’ titanium 49 passenger off-the -beach sailing catamaran for Honolulu, Hawaii being built by Betts Boats in Anacortes, Washington.