Boatbuilding has a tradition in Mallorca. Until the middle of the last century, fishing boats, excursion barges, and small sailing freighters were built in various family dockyards on the island.
In Palma, even bigger private yachts were constructed by order of clients on the shipyard ‘Astilleros de Mallorca’. However, the increase of serially produced leisure boats in Europe meant the end for the manual boatbuilding on the island. In 1995 the last motor yacht built in Palma was launched. Since then, the nautical sector in Mallorca has been limited to the refit and maintenance of private yachts.
Shaun Carkeek could probably change this. For five years, and under the label of ‘Carkeek Design Partners’, the 43-year-old Brit has been designing and developing high-tech yachts for international regatta teams as well as performance sailing cruisers for wealthy private individuals. About a year ago he opened his own engineering office in the refit shipyard STP in Palma. “There´s hardly any better place in Europe than Mallorca for my business,” says Carkeek, whose company has subsidiaries in Newport as well as Cape Town.
His career as a yacht designer started over 17 years ago. After his studies in Southampton to become a shipbuilding engineer, Carkeek worked as a partner in a yacht designing company in the north of Spain. “We developed various regatta yachts of the TP-52-series there,” Shaun tells us. Including the yacht ‘Cam’, on which the present King of Spain, Felipe VI, participated in the ‘Copa del Rey’ in Palma. One of his most significant projects, however, was without a doubt the design of ‘Il Mostro’ – a 70-feet-long regatta yacht for the international sports outfitter Puma.
The impressive boat – which participated and came third in the global sailing regatta Volvo Ocean Race in 2011 – took only six months to design. “The pressure was intense. Following the template of our design concept, the boat was built in only nine months,” Carkeek says. Production costs: around eight million euros.
On the back of his long-time experience in the regatta sport sector, Carkeek developed more racing yachts on his own. At present the company´s portfolio boasts eight different models between 40 and 100 feet in length, as well as two cruising yachts between 72 and 84 feet. Currently, ten of these yachts are being built and another 20 are in the planning. In future, the enterprise wants mainly to be involved in the superyacht sector.
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“Conveniences and luxury on board are nowadays not enough for many potential owners. More and more wish for a higher performance and more power while sailing. Instead of just cruising the waters somewhere, they want to participate now and again in one of the many regattas increasingly taking place.
Thanks to the huge wealth of experience in the regatta world we can develop yachts which are comfortable on and below deck, as well as fast on the water. It can be compared with the car brand Aston Martin, which combines exactly these two concepts,” says Shaun Carkeek.
When building high-tech sailing yachts one thing is extremely important: absolute precision: “All parts on board have to harmonize with each other. The symbiosis of technology and design has to be perfect. Furthermore, these private yachts have to be easy to handle. After all, the owners do not want to sail with professional regatta skippers all the time, but also with family and friends.”
Shaun Carkeek doesn’t usually acquire his clients via newspaper advertisements. “In our field what mainly counts are personal contacts with shipyards, regatta teams, and boat owners. During many years of work we have established an international network of such contacts,” says the Brit.
He does not think that it´s unrealistic for Mallorca to occupy an important space in the worldwide boatbuilding industry. “The island is already a real hotspot for superyachts in Europe. Why shouldn´t yachts be built here one day? The demand for individual and bespoke performance yachts is sufficiently existent. And that is for bigger as well as smaller boats.”