Unlike a Ford Taurus or an Amana dishwasher, the boat you own and each one you dream about are more than likely the expression of one man. Boats are simple in that way. They’re not designed by committees or departments, and we love them for that. It’s what gives them their character and personality. One man, one vision. But who are the guys with a vision? We call them “game changers,” the designers coming up with ideas that others will eventually copy.
Today’s boats are important; they’re tomorrow’s memories.
Lives in: Hilton Head, South Carolina
Sketch: Taking his name from his father, a U.S. senator, Junior was expected to continue the family’s political tradition but decided it was more fun to play with boats. He also bikes 15 miles a day.
Peter Granata doesn’t make boats faster, stronger or more efficient. Instead, he makes them easier to connect with. Think of him as a marine matchmaker, bringing boats and people together. Granata deals with emotions, and that’s critical because — let’s face it — no one needs a boat. We buy them because they stir something in us, and Granata supplies the “something.”
Trained as an industrial designer, he started in the automotive industry and, through quirks of life, wound up in boats. When asked how he approaches his work, his reply is simple. “I listen,” he says. He calls it murmur research.
One of his boats that gave us what we wanted was the 1991 Cobalt 22 Tradition. It began the retro look, especially Granata’s signature reverse transom, which was picked up by others. With Cobalt he also popularized forward-facing lounges in bow cockpits, so you no longer had to sit bolt upright with back to gunwale. A simple idea, but someone had to think of it first.
Recently he’s won acclaim for his MasterCraft concept boat, the X-trek. No one had ever seen anything like it before. But now you do, as other builders are lifting elements of the design. Probably the most copied feature has been the broad bow, which gives more interior room forward on a V-hull. Granata not only made it work but made it look beautiful as well. Then there are the boat’s dashboard, seats, top and...well, you’ll soon see it all on other boats. But by then Granata will be on to something new for us.
For more innovations check out the Game Changers photo gallery.