There is a misconception that all advances in yacht design spring only from the minds of brilliant designers and the hands of skilled builders. However, there would be no progress without forward-thinking superyacht owners who inspire and support new ideas. Nothing progresses beyond the drawing board unless someone is prepared to take the risk and pay the bill.
Jack Setton in one of yachting's most distinguished owners because for over 40 years he has taken up this challenge and consistently ordered or built highly innovative and influential power and sailing yachts.
Setton's first boat
As a young man, Jack Setton was fascinated by fast boats and fast cars while his father Joe was an exceptional sport pilot. When Don Aronow burst on to the offshore powerboat racing world in 1966 with his Magnum designs, Jack and his father thought they could improve on the Magnum 27 by eliminating its expensive inboard gasoline engines and stern-drive system and replacing them with high-powered outboards driving a much lighter hull.
The result was the Setton Bullit 298 (pictured) which was designed in France and built under licence in Florida. This boat, which was mostly Joe Setton's project, attracted the attention of the US Navy which was looking for a fast boat that could be dropped by parachute from a Hercules aircraft. The Bullit was the only one to meet the requirement.
Meanwhile, back in the Mediterranean, Jack bought a 25 metre Italcraft, with hull design by Sonny Levi, who was a top designer of offshore racing powerboats at the time. With twin MTU engines and surface drives, this could do 54 knots and was one of the first really fast diesel boats.