When a sailor dies, the sounding of eight bells honors the crewmember, signifying that his or her watch is over. Several significant superyacht owner and industry figures ended their watches this year. These are just some of the notable individuals we lost in 2021, listed in chronological order.
The founder of Fraser Yachts died at the age of 99 the first week of January. He launched his eponymous company in 1947, turning it into a global powerhouse in brokerage sales, charter, and yacht management. Equally important, Fraser encouraged women to be brokers and other active industry professionals in an era when few worked outside the home. He fell in love with sailing as a child, making his own boat from wood from his father’s lumber yard. Fraser even had a role on the big screen, taking the helm of the sailing yacht White Cloud during the 1950 film Watch the Birdie.
Joseph Vincent Vittoria
To the general public, Joe Vittoria (pictured immediately above) became known for being the CEO of Hertz and then Avis. To the yachting public, though, he was a superyacht owner—really, an incredibly passionate superyacht owner. Vittoria commissioned four sailing yachts that each bore the name Mirabella. His first was 131 feet (40 meters) LOA. Mirabella II was 136 feet (41.5 meters), while Mirabella III was the same LOA as his first superyacht. Mirabella V followed—he skipped using “IV” in the names—at 247 feet (75 meters). Notably, she landed in the record books for having the world’s tallest single mast. Vittoria took an active role in commissioning each and requesting certain technology and features, being an engineer. His wife Luciana, meanwhile, managed all business aspects, including charter. Vittoria died in late January at the age of 85.
Best known as Albert Sr., Albert Hakvoort (below) took over the shipyard his father started in 1919, helping steer it into yacht construction in the 1980s. The yachts that resulted brought Hakvoort Shipyard to the attention of Americans, Russians, and other nationals globally. Similarly, clients worldwide grew to join Albert Sr. in his love and admiration of Harley Davidson motorcycles. Though he stepped down from running the shipyard in 2014, he lived long enough to see his family shipyard receive the prestigious Royal designation. In The Netherlands, the title is bestowed only if a company has been in business for 100 consecutive years or longer, for instance, and if it holds national significance, among other requirements. Albert Sr, who died in March, was 80 years old.
Oleg Burlakov wasn’t just a superyacht owner. He commissioned the technologically advanced Black Pearl, which additionally has the world’s largest DynaRig. His passions for sailing and engineering are among the reasons why the yacht reportedly can cross the Atlantic while burning just 5 gph (20 lph). Russian by birth, Burlakov established multiple businesses over the years in mining, cement, and gas. He was just 72 years old when he died, of Covid-19, in June. Burlakov and Black Pearl have been back in the news recently, due to a court battle over his estate, including the yacht.
If you’ve ever admired an Azimut or a Benetti—or, for that matter, merely seen one—then you have seen the handiwork of Stefano Righini. The designer (pictured at top) was responsible for the exterior styling and naval architecture of thousands of yachts from the two Italian brands. In fact, the Azimut-Benetti group estimated he penned the looks of more than 5,500 of their deliveries. Since Righini preferred spending time in his studio over traveling to boat shows and seeking the spotlight, he was quite a private person. Therefore, it remains unknown how old he was at the time of his death on October 1. The cause is unknown, too.
Capt. Mark Howard
A longtime yacht captain, Mark Howard died suddenly at his home in Florida in October, at the age of 65. He ran a number of megayachts over the course of about 30 years in the industry. While at the helm of both privately owned and charter yachts, Howard crisscrossed the waters of the Caribbean to the South Pacific. Interestingly, Howard also pursued a passion high above the water, as a helicopter pilot. However, he may be best known for appearing in Below Deck Mediterranean for its first season, in 2016. During that season, he took the helm of Ionian Princess. Bravo, the network that airs the Below Deck shows, noted he was a mentor during his time “and will forever remain part of the Bravo family.”
Bob Healey Sr.
Earlier this month, the co-founder of Viking Yachts (above) passed away, at 92 years old. A native of New Jersey, Bob Healey Sr. and his brother Bill took over a struggling wooden boatbuilder in 1964 and transformed it into the renowned Viking brand. A staunch advocate for the yachting industry, Healey Sr. led the fight against the federal luxury tax that nearly put Viking out of business in 1991.Specifically, the national, grassroots campaign he helped organize led to bipartisan support for repealing the tax. Repeal took place in 1993. Additionally, 25 years ago, Healey Sr. and Bill Healey established the Recreational Fishing Alliance. This non-profit promotes sustainable fisheries and a healthy marine environment.