Catching the Horizon, By Chris Landry continued
“What does heritage mean to you?”
I’m proud the heritage was passed to me, and I’ve strived to improve my boats by keeping one eye on the past and the other on the future. The evolution of stronger and lighter materials and composites has allowed builders to design and build stronger vessels and handle more powerful engines.
We all started the same, as mates on charter boats. I started when I was 12. We were around boats all the time. The Carolina boys started at ground zero and worked their way up. They have been out on the water finding out what makes a better boat. The good thing about Carolina boatbuilders is we’re friends. We talk. If you’re a Carolina boatbuilder and you ask me a question about some of my work, I am going to answer it and answer it truthfully.
The heritage [enables us] to take a proven technique and move it forward. The old-timers understood why a boat performed well. There has been kind of a collision between the backyard design and innovation, with today’s new materials, techniques and composites.
Omie Tillett told me once there aren’t any secrets in our business. You found ways to improve by copying what other people did. He didn’t mean go out and steal it. He meant boatbuilders talk among themselves about ways to build and design. That heritage from people like Omie has had a positive influence on all of us. We still talk among ourselves. If we find something significant, we share it. I could not have built my first boat without Omie Tillett, who was watching, and Myron Harris and Ray Davis.
This goes back to the 1930s. This area started with guys who had ninth-grade educations designing boats, but they had practical experience fishing. They knew what worked, whether it was flare, a sharp entry or a flat bottom to handle the seas going out of Oregon Inlet.
The camaraderie among all the builders is key. We worked together, tossing around ideas. If a certain boat didn’t do well in a following sea or needed some other improvement, there was a stable of guys ready to offer some feedback. You could walk into any boat shop, too, and see what they were doing. Plus, being fishermen, we would get to see these boats on the water — from every angle.