Burger Yachts was founded in 1863 and stands today as America’s oldest custom yacht builder. A long-term staple of the yachting scene in the Great Lakes, Florida and beyond, Burger’s refined approach to building painstakingly detailed custom yachts has kept them at the head of the bespoke luxury yacht market for over 150 years. Based in Manitowoc, Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Michigan since its founding, Burger have constructed more than 500 yachts in their illustrious history, with over 250 of these vessels still in service today.
German immigrant Henry B. Burger established the company that bears his name in 1863 and the firm quickly achieved success by manufacturing wooden Mackinaw fishing boats for the Wisconsin fishing industry. Within a decade the company had begun building commercial schooners, and by the end of the century were making the largest passenger steamships in the Great Lakes region. Early adopters of technological innovations such as gasoline engines, electric arc welding and steel hulls, Burger quickly flourished as a premier builder of the pleasure yachts that still form the backbone of the company to this day. A by-line in the construction of ships for the U.S. Army and Navy during World War II, and the introduction of America’s first all-welded aluminum hulls in 1956 kept Burger ahead of the market for decades, but tougher times arrived in the 1980s as major customers including the U.S. Navy switched to other suppliers.
Yet Burger Yachts emerged stronger and more resilient as a result of these difficulties when in 1993 the firm was acquired by Chicago entrepreneurs David Ross and Jim Ruffolo. The pair of innovative operators revitalised Burger’s operations, transforming their shipyard into a state-of-the-art complex of more than 70,000 square feet that focuses on the custom pleasure yacht market. The 2006 opening of Burger University, a training school for nautical skills and innovation, was another milestone in the company’s history, and ensured that the firm maintains access to the next generation of yacht builders and designers. The company has since manufactured 34 bespoke luxury yachts of the highest quality for both private and commercial clients and has won awards including the 2006 Yachts International “Trophy for Best Custom Yacht Between 40m and 50m” award for their acclaimed MIRGAB V model.
Today Burger Yachts grows from strength to strength under the shrewd leadership of President Jim Ruffolo, who assumed full control of the company after the retirement of David Ross in 2007. The firm has achieved international acclaim for its range of classic yachts, and have debuted their vessels at yacht shows in Fort Lauderdale, Monaco and elsewhere; delivered yachts to clients on both sides of the Atlantic; and collaborated with design companies such as Vripack in the Netherlands, De Basto Designs of Miami, Florida, and Andrew Winch of the U.K.
Yachts coming from the Burger shipyards, often described as “classic contemporary”, recapture the grace, charm and authenticity of the golden age of yachting, boasting the most stylish and elegant finishes redolent of yachts from the 1920s and 1950s. Traditional accents, restrained luxury and opulent amenities are all to be expected aboard a Burger vessel, which are furnished in the most sophisticated manner. Guests can lounge in staterooms panelled with Honduran mahogany or Italian travertine, gaze out of panoramic windows framed with Macassar ebony and Paduak molding, and sunbathe on spacious deck spaces featuring etched glass balustrades. Yet there is some seriously advanced engineering underneath the glossy veneer of a Burger yacht. Facilities at the Burger shipyard include a 500-metric ton MARINE TRAVELIFT, hydraulic fabrication, machining and HVAC shops and a deep-water seawall all there to support the firm’s 350-strong team of engineers, craftsmen and designers. Boats are equipped with the most powerful and reliable engines on the market, including dual Caterpillar diesel motors for exceptional range and cruising speeds.
Burger 214 Tri-Deck Motor Yacht
This new concept yacht from Burger is a true showstopper that combines the best classic design motifs with the latest in ergonomic exterior form. Featuring four levels of exceptional entertaining space and guest accommodation, artfully arranged for maximum comfort, this iconic craft is the first Burger vessel to include space for a helipad. Buyers can participate in every stage of the manufacturing process, visiting the Burger facility in Wisconsin, and overseeing the interior and exterior design finish down to the last detail. With a range of 5,400 nautical miles at a cruising speed of 12 knots and ample accommodation for both guests and crew, this is a yacht for those explorers who wish to chart a new and original course in yacht ownership.
Burger Sea Owl
A collaborative production between the in-house Burger design team, Vripack and Andrew Winch Design, the Sea Owl yacht is surely one of Burger’s most exquisite custom yachts yet. Built for an experienced American yachting family, this personalized yacht boasts a distinctive, sylvan green hull and brushed off-white superstructure that will stand out from the crowd as this vessel serenely glides into marinas worldwide. The interior is a fantasy of iconic naval themes, with handcrafted wall murals depicting pirate ships and parrots in the children’s quarters, iconic images of the Rialto Bridge and seahorses in the family dining room, and an impressive bespoke mahogany Tree of Life bas-relief inlaid onto the internal corridor walls. Deck space is spacious enough for a ten-seat family table, a large Jacuzzi on the sundeck, and wicker sun loungers with individual canopies. With space for 14 guests and 18 crew, and a range of 5,000 miles, this yacht can take you and your family all the way from the South Seas to the North Pole in whimsical and romantic style.
Burger Sycara IV
Built in 2009 and fully refurbished in 2019, the Burger Sycara IV is a seafaring work of art inspired by the very best nautical designs from the age of Art Deco. A traditional exterior design in white and taupe tones contrasts with a gleaming navy-blue hull and a front cockpit panelled with Madrone Burl and inlaid with Macassar ebony. Interior spaces are softened with teak and maple flooring, while stainless steel fixtures and doors highlighted with polished jewels add a glamorous touch. Featuring a shallow draft, perfect for island hopping, and dual Caterpillar engines, this vessel has a maximum range of 2,400 nautical miles and a top speed of 14 knots. This yacht can sleep up to nine guests in sumptuous surrounds who are sure to feel that they have been whisked off to a bygone age of elegance and luxury.