6 of the best yacht design courses to kick-start your career

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Yacht Design and Production BEng

Southampton Solent University

Although many of the world’s top superyacht designers had no formal training, taking a yacht design course can be a great way to kick-start your career and make vital industry connections. We round up five of the best.

Southampton Solent University’s Yacht Design and Production Course has an international reputation and for good reason, as it features guest lectures from BMT Nigel Gee and work experience placements at Sunseeker International. Students on this three-year course study the engineering science behind great yacht design as well as the fundamental principles of naval architecture. A foundation year is available, as well as opportunities to study abroad. Notable successes include the class of 2014, who built the foiling catamaran Solent Whisper (pictured above).

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Yacht Design Diploma

The Landing School

Based in the American town of Arundel, Maine, the Landing School offers a wide range of courses in marine technology. Its Yacht Design Diploma boasts a 100% employment rate for former students and bursaries are available via the Women in the Marine Industry scholarship. Alumni have gone on to work for the America’s Cup team Artemis Racing (pictured above).

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Yacht Design 1st Level Masters

ISAD Milan

Offered as a postgraduate course, the Yacht Design 1st Level Masters at Milan’s ISAD design school is intended for students who have a degree in architecture, engineering or design. Taught in both English and Italian, this one-year course culminates in an industry placement, and guest speakers include Mario Pedol (who designed the 180 metre Azzam — pictured), and Andrea Vallicelli.

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Yacht and Boat Design Diploma

Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology

The Westlawn Institute has been teaching yacht design for more than 80 years, and currently offers an online distance-learning programme. The Yacht and Boat Design course is taught by tutors based in the USA and Australia, and is accredited by the Royal Institute of Naval Architects in London. This one-year diploma features modules on construction, engineering and CAD. Famous alumni include Douglas Zurn, Tom Fexas and Geoffrey Van Aller, who is responsible for the design of many of the top 50 largest US-built yachts, such as the 73 metre Cocoa Bean (pictured above).

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Automotive and Transport Design MDes/BA

Coventry University

A slightly left field option perhaps, but automotive design is one of the key fields that influences yacht design. This three to four-year undergraduate course at Coventry University is held in particularly high regard for its strong industry connections. Former students who have gone on to make a name for themselves in the superyacht world include Jonny Horsfield (whose H2 Yacht Design studio created the exteriors for the 123 metre Project Jupiter — pictured above), and Steve Gresham.

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Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering MEng

University of Strathclyde

In recent years, there has been a trend towards students using naval architecture courses as a route into yacht design, as James Roy from BMT Nigel Gee explains: "It used to be that if you attended a traditional naval architecture degree then you would spend most of your time learning things about big merchant ships, but that is not the case anymore.

"Most university degrees are now geared to provide modular approaches, and the naval architecture and engineering of smaller and specialist vessels, such as yachts, are included."

This four-year course at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow is a case in point — providing a broad basis for understanding how a wide variety of vessels work, from luxury yachts to commercial ships. The faculty also owns a 10 metre sailing yacht called Catalina (pictured above), which students can hire for as little as £30 per day.

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