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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Yacht Ott

Running Home, Willard Bond, one of the best yacht artists.
His Expressionist style lends itself well to yacht racing.
Copyright, Jim Lane
For every big yacht, there's always a BIGGER
one. These two I found at a small resort town
just down the coast from Dubrovnik, Croatia.
For those not from the New England area, let me translate the title--Yacht Art. Especially along the New England coastline, but wherever there's salt water, there are boats. And one of the few truisms regarding these watercraft comes down to this--no matter how big yours is, someone else always has a bigger one. From toy sail boats to Royal Caribbean's magnificent Allure of the Seas (six inches longer than its sister ship the Oasis of the Seas) nowhere is the American mantra, "bigger is better" more in view than when rich men take to the sea. I'm not rich nor do I have the time to engage in such extravagance, but I've always been a lover of the sea (we're cruise addicts). And virtually every port we've ever visited has a yacht basin. I've got lots of photos and one of these days I'm going to paint from one of them. As mentioned above, they come in virtually all sizes but basically break down into four categories, sport fishing yachts, sailing yachts, racing yachts, and luxury motor yachts (often called mega-yachts today). If you want to stretch the definition a bit, you might also include houseboats and stern wheelers (which I have painted a few times).

Argenteuil Yacht Race, 1872, Claude Monet
There's a long, historic tradition of yacht art. The Dutch, being great seafarers, may have painted the first ones during their 17th century "Golden Age," but artists as iconic as Claude Monet with his 1872 Argenteuil Yacht Race (above) captures the Impression of the event, even if lacking somewhat in the excitement. During the so-called "Gilded Age" in the U.S. during the second half of the 19th century the Luminist painters along the east coast found yacht racing to their liking. One of them, whom I like to think may have been a distant relative, was Fitz Hugh Lane. His Yacht "America" Winning the International Race, (below) painted in 1851, captures a bit more of the excitement than did Monet, but still falls far short of Willard Bond's Running Home (top). Bond seems to have concentrated on the feel of the sails, the wind, and the water, rather than the appearance of the racing yachts themselves.
Yacht "America" Winning the International Race, 1851, Fitz Hugh Lane

Cabo Forty Four Contemporary Marlin and
Cabo Yacht, Mike Savlen
The contemporary artist, Mike Savlen of Charleston, South Carolina, is as much a fisherman as artist and paints sports fishing yachts only for Cabo. His Cabo Forty Four Contemporary Marlin and Cabo Yacht (left), captures well the relationship fishing yachts and their prey. I've never been much of a fisherman and learning to man the lines of a sailing yacht, despite the thrill of the ride, comes dangerously close to seeming like work to me. My fascination has always been with the motorized yacht and especially the overblown opulence of today's mega-yachts, though I've never been closer than about a hundred feet to any such floating palace. John Austin Taylor's painting of the Tireless (below), dates from (I'm guessing) the 1920s, depicting the latest in motor yachts after their having thrown off sails and steam in favor of diesel. The lines are sleek and classic without a hint of the "aircraft" design look of similar-size yachts today.

Tireless, ca. 1920s, John Austin Taylor
However, for those who crave a 21st century look in your seafaring toy boats, naval architect, Kevin Schopfer has designed and seen built two such craft--the "Oculus" and the "Infinitas" (both below). Forget everything you thought you knew about what a yacht should look like. The 74-meter "Oculus" looks a little like Jonah's whale (after the regurgitation), and would set you back about $95-million. The 91-meter "Infinitas" (bottom) checks in at roughly $140-million and looks give up.

Kevin Shopfer's "Oculus" (upper image) and the "Infinitas" (lower image).
Who needs paintings when the yacht itself is a work of art?

Marblehead Yacht Club, Ronald Lightcap, Chillicothe, Ohio--more my speed.



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