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In the Design Lane: Carver Yachts and DLBA Inc.

Heather Steinberger: Marine Editor      Published June 2018

In the Design Lane: Carver Yachts and DLBA Inc.

For more than a decade, Carver Yachts has maintained an important relationship with Donald L. Blount and Associates Inc., a Chesapeake, Virginia-based naval architecture and marine engineering firm that specializes in the technical development of high-performance vessels. Although the Carver team handles its design and engineering in house, it leverages Blount’s extensive knowledge and expertise to develop very specific lamination schedules based on parameters such as hull speed and longitudinal center of gravity.

“We send Blount the three-dimensional models of the hulls and stringer systems, and we go back and forth,” says Josh Delforge, vice president of design and engineering for the Marquis-Larson Boat Group, Carver’s parent company. “Three weeks later, it’s done.”

According to Chris Swanhart, DLBA’s director of recreational boats, the relationship is a highly collaborative one. His firm’s level of involvement, he says, varies from project to project.

“We hang our hats on hydrodynamics, performance, weight control on planing craft, and structural design,” explains Swanhart, who has been with DLBA for 19 years. “Carver’s team will come to us with their design and their vision, we’ll review it, and based on our experience, we can make adjustments if and where necessary.  Essentially, we provide a sounding board, and they can bounce ideas off us.”

 

DLBA produces a wide variety of designs, from 19-foot center consoles to 100-plus-foot megayachts. These include custom yachts, sportfishing yachts, and working boats in the paramilitary, patrol, fire, police and search-and rescue arenas; Swanhart says this experience enhances the work the company does with Carver.

“Carver Yachts are designed to handle more sea and weather conditions than they are likely to encounter,” he says. “As the skipper, you won’t continually operate in those conditions, but you can handle it until you can reach port.”

Swanhart also observes that DLBA and the Carver Yachts design team work hard to achieve their vision for performance and handling without making undesirable compromises in terms of accommodations and comfort.

“Any time you change a facet of a boat’s design, you’re giving up something in favor of something else,” he notes. “Some compromise is inevitable. But, in the case of Carver, we have a very specific ‘design lane,’ and within that lane, we can tweak things. For example, when the ride is optimized for comfort, you may give up a little speed at the top end.”

The end result is a yacht that has been carefully designed and built for performance, handling and livability.

“You don’t want a boat that’s good at one thing and terrible at another,” Swanhart says. “With Carver, each yacht has to be superior in all facets of design.”