New Rhode Island boatbuilder plans model rollouts

David MacFarlane and Jim Ewing are partnering to form Reliant Yachts, a new boatbuilding venture of power- and sailing yachts in Newport, R.I.
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David MacFarlane and Jim Ewing are partnering to form Reliant Yachts, a new boatbuilding venture of power- and sailing yachts in Newport, R.I.

MacFarlane was exposed to classic yachts at an early age by his father, who was captain of George Roosevelt’s Sherman Hoyt-designed 61-foot schooner Mistress.

MacFarlane went on to an ocean racing career highlighted by trans-Atlantic races to Denmark and England, the Admiral Cup Series, the Fastnet Race, the America’s Cup campaign with the Constellation syndicate and more than a dozen Newport to Bermuda races.

After serving as an officer in the Navy, MacFarlane went on to hold management roles at Bangor Punta (Cal, Ranger) followed by Tillotson Pearson (Freedom, Alden and founded Rampage Yachts).

When Alden went into production at TP, MacFarlane first managed production and later became president of the Alden Division.

In the early 1990s he, along with a group of investors, purchased Alden Yachts from Tillotson, where MacFarlane became CEO and managing partner.

Ewing has been involved in many aspects of the yachting industry during the past two decades. He has owned and operated an advertising and marketing firm, served as president and general manager of Trumpy Yachts, is a yacht illustrator (his classic yacht illustrations have appeared on a regular monthly basis in Soundings magazine for three years) and served as executive vice president at Alden Yachts, where he first worked with David MacFarlane.

It was at Alden Yachts where MacFarlane and Ewing began their boatbuilding collaboration.

“David was absolutely a mentor to me, and from the beginning we shared a sensibility for design based on scale, proportion and the ‘fineness’ of execution. I also learned how hard you must work to perfect your craft,” Ewing said in a statement. “For all that David demanded from those around him, no one worked harder than he did, and that commitment pushed everyone else, including myself.”

“The yacht-building world we are in today is a much different place than it was 30 years ago,” MacFarlane said. “It is a global industry, and you have to compete on that basis. What hasn’t changed is the boating public’s passion for a beautiful boat. We know we can deliver that, and also provide value and competitive pricing.”

To that end, MacFarlane and Ewing have partnered with Su Marine in Istanbul as their exclusive builder. Su Marine dates back more than 40 years. Ahmet Kesgin, chief builder and one of Su’s partners, carries on a family tradition of yacht building that began with his father. The company is headed by Tim Grunberg, who received his engineering degree at Rensselaer in upstate New York.

The chief naval architect is Tanju Kalaycioglu, who received his degree from Newcastle University, England.

Reliant Yachts’ first model, the RY40 Commuter, will be available for viewing this summer in Newport as well as at the Sept. 17-20 Newport International Boat Show.

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