Tell Tales: Design, Styling, Trademark
19 August 2021
Today, Baltic Yachts is a custom builder hence styling and layouts are fully up to what the client is looking for. Individual styles and layouts are a part of the package. But at the start of Baltic Yachts most part of the production consisted of standard models.
When we started Baltic Yachts 1973, we had some clear strategics in our minds. To use high technology and achieve weight saving giving potential performance improvement, as briefly covered in one of my earlier blogs, was an important factor in our strategic thinking.
Another factor that we considered important, on the serial production models, was to create styling and layouts of our own that would make our products recognizable by the public. On the exterior we created our own, Baltic Yacht, deck shape design.
On older Baltic Yachts models the toe rails were mostly black anodized and the same goes for the masts. We did not insist on black and some clients preferred the silver anodizing, but the majority were black. Although I am sure we were not the only yard having black toe rails and mast the fact is that this became some sort of recognizable trademark of Baltic Yachts at that time.
On the interior we also wanted to make a styling and a layout that would be, at least to some part, “our own” creating a Baltic Yacht trademark. We used a lot of cold molded door frames and bulkhead capping’s. Cold molded frames and capping’s were also used by other boatyards and to “separate us” from other we went with smaller radius than commonly used at the time. A little more difficult to do with materials and tools available at that time but nevertheless doable. The idea was to create a style and atmosphere of our own.
Tor Hinders, Baltic 51 aft cabin and Baltic 42 Forepeak
The person in charge of our design at that time was Tor Hinders. He had a special eye and talent for design and came up with several solutions that helped in the process of creating a Baltic Yachts styling concept.
One aft owners cabin layout that we created and that I believe we were the first to use, was the double berth under the cockpit. To my recollection we used this for the first time in the Baltic 51.
A couple of years later Tor Hinders managed to incorporate the same double berth aft cabin into our Baltic 38.
To my knowledge we were the first sailing yacht builder that came up with this layout. At least I am sure that we did not copy it from others.
We did get, mostly, very positive comments from trade people, magazines, other yards etc. and clients loved it.
Some competitors, however, did comment in a very negative way like: Those guys at Baltic Yachts are not sailors, a layout like this cannot be used when sailing, a double berth is useless. Well, it was not, the double berth was a very comfortable seagoing berth, for two, if divided with leeboards.
As a matter of fact, this became one of the most copied aft cabin layouts and even the yards that criticized us ended up copying this. We did not mind, at all, being copied, we took it as a confirmation that we had done something good and looking back I can remember a few other things we been copied on. The only time I remember when we felt that thing was taken too far was when we found a new yacht being presented with almost exact dimensions as our Baltic 43 and with almost identical layout. But I must admit that I have not seen any of those copies in real life hence they likely did not become successful. I guess it takes a few more things than a good interior layout.
I do not criticize yards that copy things from others, we all do it. I would even say that if you want to be successful in the sailing yachting world, or most other business for that matter, you must copy. There are several good yards and people in our trade that sometimes comes up with very nice and attractive solutions and it would be silly to not look at what others do and when they come up with something better than what you have you really should consider copying and possibly improving and adapt it into your product. Copying other is a part of development. However, it is important that you also come up with new creative things of your own. Only copying makes you a follower, not a leader.
I have a saying that I have used, a few times, in some interviews:
When we are born into this world, we know nothing, we are capable of nothing, we start from scratch. When we are old and have reached the end of our live, the vast part of what we know, what we are capable of and what we have achieved is the result of using what we have learned from others, our parents, teachers and generations and generations prior to ours. An extremely small fraction of what we know and what we, as individuals, have accomplished, in a lifetime, is the result of our own creativeness and inventions. But, that small part, no matter how small, is what makes an individual or a company stick out of the crowd.
I have probably copied the above from some wise person/persons but since I am getting old, and my memory is not what it used to be, I have forgotten and will therefore use the right to consider it my own.
There can be few yacht builders like PG Johansson, who can boast an unbroken career with the company he co-founded almost 50 years ago. In that time PG Johansson has witnessed every twist and turn of a colourful, exciting and technically pioneering industry accumulating a wealth of fascinating stories, some familiar, some still untold. In this blog PG will be recalling his experiences of the yachts he has built, the people he has met and some of the more unusual events on the journey to turning clients’ dreams into reality.
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