Cassiopeia. MitSeaAh. Itasca. Timoneer. Victoria of Strathearn. Eos. These megayachts and more got their start on the drawing boards of Langan Design Associates, the company founded by Bill Langan. Langan’s body of work encompasses some of the most famous megayachts and even production yachts presently cruising the world. (You can see his handiwork on the Tartan line of sailboats and Legacy powerboats.) Because of his talent and dedication, Langan was presented with the International Superyacht Society’s (ISS) Leadership Award in October.
The ISS Leadership Award is bestowed each year to a person or business exhibiting devotion to the industry over a long period of time. Further, the devotion has resulted in significant contributions that have helped the superyacht community grow and thrive worldwide. While the various ISS awards are considered honorable achievements by their recipients, the Leadership Award is particularly notable for being what ISS calls an “in house” award. Nominations come from the board of directors, with previous Leadership Award winners making the final selection. (Full disclosure: I’m a member of the board of directors for ISS.)
It’s fitting for Langan to have received the award, given not just the yachts listed above, but also several other accomplishments. He turned a childhood passion for sailboat cruising and racing into a profession. Name an ocean race, and he’s been in it and/or designed a boat that won: Fastnet (which he won in 1993), Sydney to Hobart, Bermuda, and more. With the late Olin Stephens, whom he worked for at Sparkman & Stephens starting in the late 1970s, he co-designed Freedom, the 1980 America’s Cup winner. Langan further designed competitors in the 1983 and 1987 races. During his time at Sparkman & Stephens, he went from being a student intern to chief draftsman and ultimately chief designer, penning more than 300 different designs. He left in 1998 to start his own company and thus far has contributed another 40 designs that have been admired on the oceans of the world.
In his presentation speech, David Arnold, the publisher of Robb Report, stated, “Leadership ought not to be confused with showmanship. Ever the consummate professional, Bill does not seek the spotlight; rather he represents real substance, tackling complex challenges and succeeding magnificently. He is a naval architect among naval architects, contributing over his career in innumerable ways to the genuine betterment of our overall industry.” To that latter point, Arnold pointed out that Langan was instrumental in starting ISS and establishing the Design Awards. In other arenas, Langan has chaired the Cruising Club of America Technical Committee for more than a dozen years. While there, he helped develop the Offshore Rating Rule, the widely used velocity-prediction ocean racing handicap rule.
“Bill Langan is one of those exceptionally rare individuals who—by his long association with ISS and his rightly being honored with this prestigious Award—is likely to enhance the stature of the Award and elevate the very ideals of the Society he helped create,” Arnold noted.