Chapman Ducote lives life at 100 miles per hour. Utterly addicted to speed and introducing a sense of adventure into every aspect of his life, the man rarely finds himself lounging around the house, not doing anything. From free diving in the crystal-clear waters of the Bahamas to tearing it up around the Daytona Speedway and zipping around the Rocky Mountains in layers of fresh snow, the Ducote lifestyle is not an easy one to keep up with.
It is, therefore, a miracle that I manage to catch him while at his Venetian Causeway villa in Miami to find out more about his yachting background and how he has incorporated his constant need for speed into the yachting life that he leads.
Yachting has always been a big part of Ducote’s life ever since childhood but it was the motorsport scene that became his first speed fix. From carting to high-tech, lap-munching endurance speed machines, over the years Ducote has taken the wheel of several of the world’s fastest cars. His successful career on the track has naturally lead him to become familiar with composites as a construction material and the weight management of ultra high-performance machines - something that would prove very useful later in his yachting endeavours.
With a preference for all things fast, modern and dripping in technology, it might come as a surprise then to find that, as a yacht owner, Ducote has settled for something a little more old-school, most likely capable of reaching a top speed around the low teens. The yacht in question is, of course, the famous Anahita V, a 25-metre motor yacht built by Feadship in 1952 – one of the Dutch shipyard’s very first projects in fact. Built as hull number F008 at the De Vries Lentsch shipyard, today she cruises under the ironic yet highly suited name, La Vie Vite or The Fast Life. "Isee the yacht in much the same way one could look at the very first Ferrari or Lamborghini ever built.”
Ducote keeps La Vie Vite on the west coast of the States where she remains in her true original fashion, just as the day she first hit the water over 60 years ago. Refit plans are in place to breathe new life into this classic, and it will certainly become one of Ducote’s more challenging projects once initiated. But taking up far more of his time in his yachting life today is his involvement with Delta Carbon Yachts, the Swedish yacht builder with a taste for speed, advanced composites, and family life on board.
So how did Ducote end up getting involved with such a high-performance yachting brand while owning a long-lost old school classic cruiser? “I bought my yacht for investment purposes, and as a lover of Feadship yachts, I am just happy to be involved with the brand as an owner. Delta Carbon Yachts is where my heart is at in terms of, what I call, mission profile and usability. When I use my boats I want to go to the Bahamas to spearfish and scuba dive, and Delta fits that lifestyle perfectly. It is designed for users of my age and those who enjoy leading a more active life on and off the water.”
Ducote explains that joining the Swedish brand wasn’t always part of his plan and that he, in fact, had something far more daring in mind to introduce to the industry under his own name. “Initially, my plan was to launch a new yacht line under my own name, driven by the benefits of the material. I started doing some research and reached out to a few builders with my concept in mind but soon realised that such a venture would require a lot of engineering and development and would become a very time intensive operation. I wasn’t quite ready to make such an investment at the time so I started looking around for builders who already have an existing line of carbon yachts. It was then when I came across Delta Carbon Yachts in Sweden and they were doing pretty much exactly what I had in mind, but even better.”
Already having been in search of a partner on that side of the Atlantic, Delta Powerboats made Ducote’s involvement official in 2013 as importer to the American market, and Delta Carbon Boats was founded. After Americanising some features of the line by working with Delta Powerboats and running an intense marketing strategy to promote the brand, the American market today accounts for a third of the company’s sales.
With active ties to the dynamic automotive industry to this day, where a strong focus lies on product development and customer satisfaction, Ducote feels that Delta Carbon Yachts, in a very similar fashion, are one of the pioneers in delivering a more vibrant experience to its clients and one that is challenging the accepted norms of the business. “I feel the yachting industry could do with a bit of a shake up. Uber is disrupting the taxi business, Airbnb is doing the same in the hotel industry.” So is Delta disrupting the yachting industry? “To a degree, yes. No one else is building carbon fibre yachts on a serial production scale the way Delta Powerboats do. Our yachts are customisable like few other products on the market and in terms of efficiency and cruising capabilities, we are in a class of our own.”
Delivering this experience to a Delta client begins at the shipyard in Sweden where the yachts are hand crafted. It’s a journey Ducote regularly makes as things are constantly on the change there and keeping on top of the latest developments requires constant contact with the team that designs and builds these machines. “There is nothing like bringing a client to the actual site where these yachts are born so he/she can get a feel for the people who design and build these craft. It is not uncommon for owners to take delivery and immediately leave the shipyard with them at the helm to explore the stunning surrounding area of the Baltic. It is a great way for owners to get accustomed to their yacht and also having the shipyard nearby where we can make further customisations before the final delivery to the Med or the States, is a great benefit.”