Written by Scott Alle
Last year, Johnson Yachts celebrated 30 years of quality boat-building with the announcement of two new designs – the Johnson 70 and a new flagship, the Johnson 115.
Both are the product of the company’s long-time designer, Dixon Yacht Design, which is also responsible for hulls for other top-line manufacturers such as Azimut and Pearl.
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the company, ably guided by President Andy Huang, has kept the build of its two new models on track. The 115 represents a significant stylistic evolution with its purposeful lines and distinctive plumb bow.
“The development of our outstanding Johnson yachts has set a reliable brand in the yacht industry, with model introductions that continue to break new ground in terms of onboard space and how it is used,” explains Huang. “Our products combine design and engineering in ways that go beyond our clients’ expectations.”
Johnson’s extensive industry experience is also reflected in its expansive facility encompassing 12,600 square metres that can fit up to six 130-foot yachts offering state-of-the-art facilities.
It boasts four bridge cranes for lifting heavy equipment along with high-quality repair, refit and maintenance services and the specialist skills and experience to take on any service job from clients worldwide.
Ocean’s Associate Editor, Scott Alle, discussed with Andy Huang the company’s plans to keep delivering high-quality, semi-custom yachts to their clients.
Andy, thank you for taking the time to talk with Ocean. Can I ask, what are the positives that have come out of the pandemic for Johnson Yachts so far? How have you adapted?
Currently, we are trying to maintain our production line. In addition, we are taking advantage of the current situation by investing in improvements in important workplace strategies and practices such as employee training. We are doing this to ensure the skills and facilities are in place as capacity returns to normal.
We are sure that when the virus begins to slow down, people will be more than motivated to go out boating after many months of isolation. Therefore, demand should increase.
While we can’t undertake physical boat shows and events, we can keep attention high and generate client interest. We will keep maximising exposure on social media and prepare for new orders.
You have two new boats under construction, the 70 and the 115. What is the status with the 70? When will that be launched?
The Johnson 70 and Johnson 115 are both under construction. Due to the pandemic, we don’t have an exact launch date.
Can you confirm the 70 will have the Skylounge layout with four staterooms on the lower deck, including a full-beam master suite amidships?
Yes, the skylounge version with four staterooms is one currently in build.
What are the other features of the 70 you feel will appeal to buyers?
The Johnson 70 is decidedly different, offering new owners the many benefits of custom construction. It is a built-to-order design, drawing on the experience of renowned British designers Bill Dixon of Dixon Yacht Design for the exterior styling and Design Unlimited for the interior design.
Who is the 70’s target market?
The 70 is squarely aimed at the US market, with specifications tailored to US preferences. We hope this spec boat appeals to the specific needs of our American clients.
To what degree can the client customise the 70?
We provide standard layouts to the clients for reference and they share whatever style they want with our design department. All of the designs need to meet current safety requirements.
The 115 is the new flagship and with its striking lines, it represents an exciting new direction for Johnson. What was your thinking behind this big move?
The new yacht will continue our leadership in large-volume yachts, a trend we helped to launch from the very first models, showing foresight and industry leadership.
The Johnson 115 advances the idea even further, with available layouts of five or six staterooms and high levels of customisation. I’m confident it will draw the eye of superyacht connoisseurs in harbours around the world.
The Johnson 115 will be a world-class superyacht with a refined aesthetic in a completely new hull design.
I’m very excited to build our new flagship, a 115-footer. We wanted to create a yacht with the flexibility to accommodate owners’ needs, allowing their dream to become reality.
The Johnson 115 is the latest platform to help the builder’s clients achieve their yachting goals.
You’ve said the 115 came about as a response to customer enquiries about a tri-deck. How has that customer interaction and their preferences been incorporated in the 115?
The Johnson 115 will have exterior lines designed by Bill Dixon of Dixon Yacht Design, and she will have a striking plumb bow that carries her volume far forward, maximising her space for her length overall.
She has a tri-deck profile that has large windows, protected by bulwarks with inlaid glazing to allow improved lines of sight from the main deck.
As Bill Dixon points out, there are many design features on this yacht to make owning and living aboard very special. There are multiple deck spaces, from the Beach Club at the transom to the flybridge.
We see the walkaround upper deck being a go-to area for owner and guests, with large leisure space forward and aft of the Sky Lounge. That feature will offer the indoor-outdoor feel, opening wide to an open-air aft deck that will also shade the main deck aft.
The foredeck will be a gathering area for friends and family, with a seating area that rivals those of much larger yachts.
Who do you think the 115 will most appeal to?
Someone who wants a 100-foot superyacht and is looking for a large-volume yacht. The tri-deck yacht provides more private space, an important feature when yachts dock at port.
The Johnson 115 is suitable for someone who wants to have their own uniquely styled superyacht. We are able to offer several different design choices for the client. Whether they wish to have a flybridge, a skylounge or a beach club, we can build the yacht they want.
What new technologies and processes have been utilised for the 115?
We set the fuel burn efficiency with a superior preference for cruising as the goal for this superyacht model. Hence, Dixon Yacht Design came up with the vertical bow for the 115, which gives better speed preference as well as enlarging the bow area spacing internally.
Moreover, in order to assist us in achieving such a goal, we are using a lot of weight-saving processes.
We are incorporating eco-friendly concepts into our design and trying to utilise or consider green-energy options for our power sources.
Can you tell us about any other new models from Johnson?
For now, we are focusing on the current models – the 70, 80, 93, 110 and 115. However, we always take account of new trends in the market.
About 98 percent of Johnson’s boats are run by American owners in US waters. Do you want to expand to other markets in the region such as Australia and South-east Asia? Do you have plans underway?
Our main market is the US, though we are developing new markets. We have received some inquiries from Australia, and are trying to find a reliable dealer or partner to expand the business locally.
What’s your take on how COVID-19 has influenced the way owners are using their boats?
During the pandemic, clients that are able to have found a great degree of wellbeing and enjoyment from going boating with the family, social distancing and relaxing at the same time.
Also, due to lockdown, overseas travel has been curtailed, which has led to more interest in boating in general and we have received more enquiries from dealers.