A legendary name in the world of blue water sportfishing yachts, Willis Yachts have produced dozens of hand-built, custom vessels from 18 to 77 feet in length since they were founded back in the 1980s. Operating out of Stuart, Florida and helmed by experienced fisher and boat-builder Mark Willis, this company has gained international renown for the superb finish and high performance of their tournament-ready yachts.
It takes a lot to stand out from the crowd in the sportfishing world capital of Stuart, Florida. Yet for the past four decades Willis Yachts has managed to become the first port of call for buyers of high-end, custom sportfishing vessels in what can be a crowded market. The reason for their success can be traced back to the passion and expertise of company owner Mark Willis, who founded Willis Yachts back in 1982. Willis earned his sea legs fishing as a child off the coast of Rhode Island and developed significant construction skills while earning an engineering degree as a young man. After college, Willis was soon called back to the water, where he worked as a fisherman catching billfish off the coast of North Carolina. It was here that he developed not only an enduring love for billfishing, but an intuitive understanding of life at sea and the piloting of fishing boats.
In 1982 Willis decided to apply what he had learned to the construction of his own fishing boat, designing a vessel that would become the ultimate fishing machine. Willis’s attention to detail and superb craftsmanship during this build did not go unnoticed, and before the yacht was even completed it was purchased by a private buyer. So began Willis’s career as a boat builder. Shortly after Willis established a factory in Stuart, Florida, and began to build fully custom sportfishing yachts for buyers across the United States. A 53-foot yacht was launched in 1993 and was followed by a pair of 65-footers. Before too long Willis was inundated with orders from buyers impressed by his yachts’ high-end capabilities, luxurious finish and tournament-ready fishing amenities.
Aware of the competitive yacht-building scene in Stuart, Willis knew he would have to constantly innovate and improve his finished product to stay ahead of rival firms biting at his heels. The firm pioneered many new advances that have now become industry wide standards, like pneumatic actuated systems about its power yachts; Willis was also the first builder to install retractable sonar with engine room access.
A recent collaboration with naval designer Robert Ullberg has seen the company modernize its yacht designs for improved performance and durability, with cold-molded okume and epoxy hulls supported by Douglas Fir internal keels. Willis Yachts has also developed its own in-house CNC facility, Markcam, to cut bespoke jigs, patterns and molds using the very latest in CAD/CAM, 3D modelling and 5-axis CNC machinery. Such cutting-edge utilisation of the latest technology reduces build times, increases accuracy and allows Willis Yachts to provide the sort of fully custom service that other firms can only dream of.
It is no wonder, then, that Willis Yachts are some of the most in-demand sportfishing vessels on the market today. The company’s vessels have triumphed around the world at sportfishing tournaments, with victories at the 2014 Annual Gold Cup and 2012 Pelican Yacht Club Invitational among recent highlights. Nor has Mark Willis ever lost his love for billfishing, frequently joining his clients to fish in waters off the Florida coast and as far afield as the shores of Venezuela or the coast of Costa Rica. With such a modern approach to realizing the very finest sportfishing yachts available, and Mark Willis’s irrepressible enthusiasm for his craft, it is likely that we will see Willis vessels gracing the world’s top fishing grounds for decades to come.
The longest Willis yacht available at 77 feet in length, the Willis 77 is the flagship of the brand and the ultimate expression of the firm’s style. The helm station is one of the most impressive around, with a bucket-style captain’s chair offering increased visibility and Garmin and Furuno technology providing navigation. Cockpit and aft are equipped with Release Marine Trillion Series fighting chairs with as many as nine rod holders, while there is ample provision for fish boxes, live wells, equipment storage and ice machines. A soaring Palm Beach Towers tuna tower offers a best-in-class pelagic fishing experience, while Miya Epoch teaser reels ensure you will always be in command of your prey.
Interior spaces have been lavishly designed so that anglers can relax in refined comfort after a hard day’s fishing out on the water. Matte-finished fiddleback teak surfaces sparkle under recessed lights, while wrap-around, curving windows can become opaque at the touch of a button. Clever touches include air-actuated pocket doors, lightweight Polystone countertops, sourced from the aerospace industry, to limit overall tonnage, and fitted leather sofas and dining seats that double as storage. Galley space is dominated by full-kitchen facilities including a Wolf induction range, while the salon is more than large enough to host intimate soirees with friends. Below deck there is a lavish forward stateroom with 7 foot of clearance as well as a VIP guest cabin and crew quarters for a total occupancy of 5.
Performance-wise this exceptional yacht will not be bested: twin MTU 2000 engines and a pair of Northern Lights generators ensure open-throttle top speeds of 46 knots.
The Willis 67 represented new heights for Willis Yachts when it was launched in the early 2000s. A hull designed for pure performance boasts a new chine design with a raised forward and integral ledge for a dry ride. A fully teak transom and aft deck provides a stylish and practical space in which to fish from your custom fighting chair, while a Jack Hopewell tuna tower provides a sturdy platform for those champion chases. Interiors are sedate and restrained with brown and beige tones in maple, wool and leather for an atmosphere of relaxed elegance. A top speed of over 36 knots will keep you apace with the speediest marlins in the sea, while over 1,100 gallons of fuel storage ensures that you can stay offshore for days at a time. Power-assisted hydraulic steering, meanwhile, ensures that this yacht turns on a dime as nimbly and quickly as a high-performance sports car.
Willis 18 Flats
Though Willis is more known for their blue-water sportfishing yachts, they have also moved into the world of the speedboat with the walk-around style Willis 18 Flats. This model comes with a high-performance Evinrude 150 outboard motor and a shallow draft for incredible speeds and agility while navigating a range of waterways. A BRP steering stabilizer ensures that this speedboat is a smooth ride, while a teak helm station and stainless-steel fixtures and brightwork give the vessel a graceful look and excellent durability
How to Buy a Willis Yacht
If you’re interested in purchasing a Willis yacht, a Staten Island Yacht Sales professional can assist you in your buying needs. All employees are trained to identify as many ways as possible to improve your experience when purchasing a Willis yacht. As a 100-percent customer-driven business, SI Yachts delivers every time.
How to Sell Your Willis Yacht
Staten Island Yacht Sales has the experience and the product knowledge to sell your Willis yacht. Selecting the right full-service brokerage firm when selling your yacht improves the likelihood of a seamless and timely transaction. Listing your Willis with SI Yachts, you can be certain it is in the hands of dedicated professionals. Over 50 years in business, our devoted Sales Professionals work attentively to provide you with first class representation.