The Sea Keeper
Lou Codega has been designing boats for more than three decades. Two of his best-known designs are the Carolina Classic 28 and the Regulator 26. Beyond deep-V sport-fishing boats, he furthered the “form stable” concept developed by naval architects Jay Benford and Philip C. Bolger by applying the principles that those luminaries developed to the Great Harbour line of trawlers.
“I admire everyone in our profession; everybody has contributed to the greater knowledge. To me, it is extending those great ideas and applying them in the real world of oceans and seaways,” Codega explains, “taking what is known and developing innovative concepts that improve performance and safety.”
Codega discovered his passion at a young age. When he was 12, his parents brought him from their home in Barrington, Rhode Island, to the America’s Cup race in Newport, a short distance away. This was in the time when you could join the crew celebrating the day’s victories and losses at pubs like the Black Pearl. Intrepid, skippered by Emil “Bus” Mosbacher, won the first of two consecutive America’s Cups in 1962. Codega was so enamored of the beautiful hull lines and tall rigs that he decided he would someday design a yacht that beautiful and powerful.
Studying naval architecture and marine engineering, Codega graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Webb Institute, an engineering college that has specialized in the subjects for more than 124 years. He went on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to earn a master’s degree in 1981 in the same field of study. With the United States economy not yet recovered from the recession caused by the ’70s oil embargo, there were not a lot of opportunities to design sleek racing yachts. Codega found himself designing icebreakers for the Coast Guard and also powerboats for the U.S. Navy.
Donald Blount (perhaps most famous for Destriero, a 224-foot power yacht that holds the nonstop transatlantic record, averaging 55 knots in 1992; and for his work with the U.S. Navy’s Combatant Craft Division in the development of high-speed boats and shock mitigation for crews aboard such craft) had the greatest influence on Codega’s developing career. Codega worked for Blount for eight years.
Asked what drives him more than any aspect of design, Codega replies, “Seakeeping. That is always in the forefront of my thinking. Whether on a high-performance offshore center-console or a long-range trawler, seakeeping is the key to safe and enjoyable boating experiences.”
Codega characterizes commendable seakeeping as a boat that has a smooth, comfortable ride, one that is dry and does not slam into waves and chop — a hull that is stable, tracks straight and is predictable at speed.
Pressed, Codega speaks plainly.
“Anyone can slow down to avoid the pounding and unpredictability of a poorly set up hull,” explains the respected designer. “To get it right, one must pay attention to every little detail. The size and angle of the chines, the bow entry angle to deadrise transition geometry, the shape and length of strakes, beam-to-length ratio, as well as weight distribution and balance: They all play a part in creating a great riding boat with exceptional seakeeping abilities.”