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For Immediate Release

Contact: Caroline Chetelat, (410) 956-1050, x22

[email protected]



DETC (Distance Education and Training Council)

December-2004 Global Report Spotlights Westlawn


Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology

A Design School With Global Reach


From DETC Global Report, December 2004: The only distance learning school in the world that teaches boat design—the design of yachts and small craft (vessels under 200 feet or 60 meters)—and one of only two schools in the world dedicated to teaching specifically small-craft design, Westlawn is celebrating its 75th anniversary. During it’s three-quarters of a century of operation, Westlawn has trained more practicing small-craft designers than many of the other institutions in the world combined. Indeed, Westlawn alumni comprise some of the most prominent names in the marine industry, and have been employed by most of the principle design offices and boatbuilders throughout the world. (Visit Success Stories to see a list of successful Westlawn alumni and Alumni Gallery to see a photo gallery of alumni-designed boats.)


Originally named the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, the Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology was founded in 1930 and accredited by DETC in 1971. The boating industry’s need for trained designers prompted the National Marine Manufacturer’s association (NMMA) to acquire Westlawn in the 1960s, and ownership of the school was transferred to the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) in April, 2003. ABYC creates the safety standards for small craft used by industry, including for NMMA certification. (Visit www.abycinc.org.)


Westlawn’s Oldest Student

From the very beginning, Westlawn’s reach has been global. Some 35 percent of Westlawn students are located outside the U.S., and—though the percentage has fluctuated over Westlawn’s 75 years of operation—an international student body has always been part of the Westlawn picture. Indeed, Westlawn’s oldest known living graduate lives and works in New Zealand. Thomas C. (Tim) Windsor recently wrote:


“It has been interesting for me to look at your Web site and to know that after over 70 years that Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology, as it is now named, is still operating. In 1930, I enrolled as a student with the Westlawn School of Yacht Design and earned my Diploma in Advanced Yacht Design on June 15, 1939 and signed by Gerald Taylor White. It was the start of the Second World War and I was seconded into essential industry where I was the Draughtsman Designer with Shipbuilders Ltd. This firm was engaged in the building of Minesweepers and Fairmile Patrol Boats for the N.Z. Navy. Then, when the U.S. entered the war after the attack on Pearl Harbor, we were building 114 foot Powered Lighters for the U.S. Army and the Navy. At the age of 92, I would probably be the oldest living past student of Westlawn.”


After the war, Tim continued his a long design career with his first commission a 27-foot (8.3 m) patrol launch for the New Zealand Coast Guard. This was followed with a wide variety of sail and power boats.


Over the years, Westlawn’s international alumni have had long, varied, and successful careers, and have lived in nearly every country in the world. The list of international alumni is extensive, but we can give a brief overview:


America’s Cup

In 1987, three Westlawn alumni competed against each others in the very top level of worldwide boat design—as designers for the America’s cup. Ultimately, it was Westlawn grad John Swarbrick, co-designer of Australia’s Kookaburra III, against U.S. alumni Britt Chance’s Stars and Stripes. (Westlawn alumnus Gary Mull’s USA made it to the final elimination round the same year.) Few if any schools have had three alumni competing simultaneously for the America’s cup, and Westlawn alumni’s involvement in the America’s cup has been ongoing.


Westlawn grad, Eric Ogden was on the French America’s Cup 12-meter Challenge France team, and Westlawn alumni have been and are still involved with Team New Zealand, Team Alinghi, and the BMW Oracle Racing Team, just to name a few.


Designing for Production in Canada

Turning north and away from the Cup scene, Westlawn grad Luc St. Onge, is the chief designer for the Canadian production boatbuilder Doral. The Doral-line of express cruisers is known for crisp contemporary styling and reliable performance.



Italian Luxury Yachts

Luxurious motoryachts, built for some of the world’s most demanding clients, have been a staple of Westlawn grad Massimo V.L. Gergori’s design practice in Italy—Yankee Delta Italian Yacht Design.



A Variety of Designs from South Africa

From his home base in South Africa, Westlawn graduate Dudley Dix has designed a wide assortment of vessels and pioneered some new wood-epoxy construction methods. Dudley only recently moved his office the U.S.


Yachts and Commercial Vessels in New Zealand

Flitting over to the Pacific again, we find Westlawn graduate Richard McBride, whose design office has worked on everything, from sailing yachts, to charter boats, to commercial fishing vessels.



A Passion for Boats in Croatia

Small-craft design is not simply a job but a passion, and many Westlawn students have gone to extraordinary lengths to complete their studies. There may be no better example then that of Westlawn grad Ivan Erdevicki. Located in Croatia, he took the Westlawn program during the height of the recent Balkan war. In many instances, it was necessary for him to virtually smuggle his lessons out to a relative in Italy to get them to Westlawn for grading. Ivan has set up his design office in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he is busy on a wide array of projects. He recently contacted Westlawn in search of a graduate or advanced student to employ in his rapidly expanding practice.


Students Win Design Competitions Across the Globe

Though some 60 to 70 percent of Westlawn students are U.S. based, Westlawn’s international student body and global reach have always been an important aspect of the program. Our overseas students continue to be active and successful. In fact, current UK-based Westlawn student Charles Magnan won honorable mention in the 2004 Bluewater Sailing Magazine design competition. (U.S. Westlawn grad Doug Frolich took first prize). U.S. Westlawn students have been successful overseas was well. In fact, 2004 Westlawn grad Ben Dodarell won the 2004, United Kingdom, Camper & Nicholson design competition in the 46-60 m motoryacht category (130-200 ft.). International students, international competitions, and the recognition made possible by DETC accreditation are and will remain an integral part of Westlawn’s educational program


Dave Gerr, director of the Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology, is President of the design firm Gerr Marine, Inc. He is the author of Propeller Handbook, The Nature of Boats, and The Elements of Boat Strength, published by International Marine Publishing Co./McGraw-Hill.

Go to www.detc.org to learn more about DETC.



Founded in 1930, the Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology is the only nationally accredited and state certified distance-learning school of small-craft design in the United States. As the not-for-profit educational affiliate of the American Boat and Yacht Council, Westlawn’s primary function is to assure a continual source of highly skilled designers to the marine industry. To learn more about Westlawn, please call (410) 956-7100 or visit the Westlawn website at www.westlawn.edu.