Thus were born the Hinckleys, the American boats that conquered the world


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Photo courtesy: Hinckley Yachts

In the next issue of Motor Boats you will find a feature on those boatyards switching from sail to motor(subscribe here to read it). Today, however, we give you a sneak peek by talking about a shipyard that has made motor and sailing history: Hinckely Yachts. Elegant and tough, boats to face even the worst seas head-on, with a build quality that is hard to find elsewhere. But how did Hinckley boats come into being? Did the sail or motor ones come first? What about the Picnic Boats? Here is the Hinckley story that Innes McGowan, the yard’s reference in Europe, told us in this interview.

When did the first Hinckley motor boat arrive?

“Although Hinckley Co was founded in 1928, at first they did mainly repair work. Then it was in 1933 that they built the first new Hinckley, a 36-foot powerboat.”

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What about the first Hinckley sailboat?

Let’s start with a basic premise: Hinckley is located in Manset, Maine, on Mount Desert Island, one of the most fabulous cruising grounds on the East Coast of the United States. Because of this, Henry Hinckley saw a lot of sailboats passing through the area, very beautiful boats. But he also knew, however, that he could build sailboats just as good, if not better, than those of the long-established Rhode Island and Long Island Sound shipyards. And because he was always looking for ways to expand his business, he decided to have the naval architects at Sparkman & Stephens design a sailboat especially for him to build and then put on the market. It was 1938 when the first 29-foot sailboat and was finished and launched.

What do sailboats and powerboats have in common?

The Hinckley Company has always insisted on three basic points that are there for all to see. Starting from the construction they had to:

  • Be able to handle the tough, open Atlantic ocean conditions. It must be said that as soon as they left the site, the first conditions they encountered were usually these.
  • Be built to the highest quality standards, using the best and latest materials and technologies
  • be beautiful. Hinckley yachts were to turn heads in ports around the world. Then consider that they are often kept by the same family for years, if not generations.
Souwester 53 hinckley
Photo Courtesy: Hinckley Yachts

Did Hinckley become world famous by sailing or motor?

Undoubtedly fame came for its sailboats, and although it still built some powerboats over the years, sail models such as the Pilot 35 and Bermuda 40 dominated the yard’s business until 1994. This year marked a watershed because the first 36-foot hydrojet-powered boat was introduced: the Picnic Boat era began. This power boat model soon changed the balance of power and sail boats in the yard.

PB 40 Hinckley Yacht
PB 40 Hinckley – Photo Courtesy: Hinckley Yachts

Were more sailboats or powerboats built by Hinckley?

To date, the company has built about 650 sailboats in total. But since 1994, precisely, there has been a profound change. The Picnic Boat changed everything for the company, and with the addition of new powerboat models from 29 to 55 feet, (and as people’s usage patterns changed), the motor part soon overtook the sailboats. We have built about 1,200 motor boats and this number continues to grow.

Gregorio Ferrari


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