Drawing Sabres

An interview with Kevin Burns, VP of Design and Product Development

Photography by Billy Black

When he was growing up in Rocky River, a suburb of Cleveland on Lake Erie, Kevin Burns says, “I was that kid who was always taking things apart. My Christmas gifts were frequently disassembled immediately.” These days, Burns, now 40, is no longer taking things apart. Instead, as the newly appointed Vice President for Design and Product Development at Sabre and Back Cove Yachts in Maine, he’s putting them together. Burns’ career arc has always flowed toward a life afloat. After attending Miami University of Ohio, he enlisted in the Coast Guard, where he learned to love navigation, and spent his time on the bridge of a 270-foot cutter “with my nose in the charts.” As a civilian, he captained 150-foot vessels supplying rigs in the oil fields of the Gulf. But Burns wanted a broader view: “I felt a captain should know as much about boats and naval architecture as a pilot does about aircraft and aeronautics.” To that end, he went to the Landing School in Arundel, Maine, to learn Yacht Design. Burns then landed a job with the Setzer Design Group in Cary, North Carolina.

At Setzer, Burns was lead designer for Wombat, the 82-foot Lyman Morse motoryacht that is arguably one of the most beautiful yachts of the past decade. There Burns embraced “the architectural concept of ‘informed simplicity,’ which is something I carry around with me. It’s both a goal and an approach to design.”

Six years ago, Burns joined Back Cove and today he lives with his wife and son, 7, and daughter, 5, in Friendship, Maine. Why Friendship? “It’s authentic,” he says. “It’s a fantastic out-of-the-way coastal village to raise a family.” On the waterfront there, Burns says, “I feel a camaraderie with the lobstermen. I value their company, as well as their perspective on boats, boating, and the sea.

-written by Peter A. Janssen

This is an except from Power and Motoryacht Magazine’s September Issue. To view the complete story, “A Cut Above”, click on the PDF or visit Power & Motoryacht Magazine.

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