Buying a boat and the decision for one or another brand, size and style of yacht is not solely just a decision based solely on facts and the appreciation of values but – maybe to an even greater extend – a question of emotion, desire and dreams. In this, it´s not just the boat as such but also her name and for some sailors even the design. I´ve seen many grades and styles. Even my own boat not just got her distinct own name but also a custom design.

Delivery of two new First 18 SE sailboats.

Same happened last week with one of our clients: I found this particular story so interesting that I´d like to tell it here. It all began with the delivery of two brand new Seascape/Beneteau First 18 sailboats. One of which was ordered in the current blue-white design that is offered by the yard, one came “clear” with plain white gelcoat and some brand and type stickers applied to the hull. Another client saw this picture on facebook, called me and ordered a boat for himself.

Client´s choice: An individual boat

Why opting for a sailboat with stickers? Well, first of all it looks just beautiful. Especially small boats like the First/Seascape-range are especially suitable for applying stickers as they are small enough and as such the budget needed is relatively low compared to a full-size cruiser. Secondly, skippers of “racy” boats as the First, predominantly utilized in match racing and regattas, tend to want an individual look for their machines. Maybe that´s something people are used to see from the professional Class 40, IMOCA and other racing circuses.

That would be the design offered by the yard

In this, the yard offers a quite nice design that used to be black and red last when Seascape became Beneteau First in the year 2019. Since 2020 these stickers are blue and white, resembling the Beneteau-seahorse, tilted and “speedy”. Our client ordered exactly this design and so it has been ordered. Now, three or four days ago a whatsapp reached me: “Can I skip the stickers and get an individual design instead?” I asked the yard. His boat wasn´t that far in the building process, so I was able to cancel this option. Now the real fun started: “Do you know “The Big Band Theory”?”, another message asked. Well, of course I do!

Talking to a Theoretical Physicist

We engaged into a conversation and as it turned out our client is a huge fan of this comedy-series and has even a professional tendency towards theoretical physics, quantum flied theory and particle physics. In a matter of a cascade of incoming messages he sent me pictures of the “Feynman Van”. Richard Feynman, one of the greatest scientists of the last Century, used to drive around in this Dodge in the Seventies. The distinct colors and patterns – along with Feynman´s scientific research – made the van popular. So popular that it even appeared on the famous sit-com.

The all-famous “Feynman Van” of Richard Feynman. And “Big Bang Theory”.

“I´d like to have this design for my boat”, the client asked. Well, challenge accepted! I am very much interested in quantum field theory, the world of bosons, strings and the bigger picture, such as the cosmology, entropy and the heat death of our universe. Strange and exciting to have a client who shares this interest – and is crazy enough to want a custom design á la “Feynman Van” for his boat.

Starting the customization process on my PC

So I downloaded the sheer plan of the First 18 from the yard´s server and started Photoshop. The base color of the boat´s hull is derived from the original color of the Dodge van. We are currently discussing if we stick to the original color or “upgrade” this idea to a golden glittering sheet foil which from my point of view would be looking quite awesome – although leaving the original look behind. The next step was a bit more tricky: The very Feynman diagrams.

Quantum Field Theory and Sailboat Design

Well, being interested in theoretical physics and the forces of which our reality is composed of is one thing, understanding what this all means is another. The Feynman Diagrams have been developed and published by Richard Feynman in the year 1948 (which in itself is absolutely stunning!). These diagrams try to visualize on an abstract level how electrons, positrons and other fundamental particles interact with each other. The Feynman van has been painted all around with these graphics.

The original Feynman Diagrams

My client sent another picture showing the van´s design left and right: For me the guideline to reproduce the exact same looks. So I started to re-build the graphics in Photoshop by trying to adopt as accurately as possible the lengths and angles of the diagrams, having read that these are essential. This took quite some time but after two large Latte and a Saturday morning spent in front of the screen, I got finished the first seven diagrams.

Making the Feynman Diagrams one by one

I really enjoyed working on this project as it was partially crazy, partially allowed me to widen my own horizon as it also touched my personal interests and above all: It is surely a very, very unique design-approach for a sailboat with both scientific connotation and a reference to modern pop-culture. This boat will most certainly stand out from the crowd on a starting line of a regatta!

Ready for customization

After all, some 5 hours later, the finished “Feynman Boat”-custom design analogue to the famous Dodge truck – at least the starboard side – was finished. A bit proud, a bit excited, I sent the design draft to my client to await his feedback. No matter which changes this design will undergo in the coming days, the finished boat will be absolutely awesome!

The finished design: Will the client like it?

Together with our own company´s new showboat – MADCAP has been sold already – called the HOTSHOT, this “Feynman Boat” is going to be set up for delivery in the coming weeks. I will surely post another article about fitting the design to these boats. Any maybe this project is a catalyst for me to re-visit the custom design of my own new boat, the GEKKO. Anyway, Penny? Knock, knock, Penny? Knock, knock, Penny …


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Sailing the Oceanis 30.1 prototype: Christening URSUS

Finding a ship´s name & design for my own new boat

Designing the MADCAP: First 24´s racy design