It is fair to say that through the 90-ties and first two decades of the 2000, the boating industry was successfully driven by a mature and profiled group of strong individuals.
Professional men and women have, with skills and passion, built a sustainable industry and boating has never been more attractive to our time-squeezed generation.
Along with “Lifetime achievements, awards and appreciation to the generation of the 90-ties, the recruitment of young men and women to all key positions in our industry has been well handled.
When I came into this industry I was very quick to look for “role-models”. Those who pushed and made a real difference.
In today’s highly sophisticated and technologically advanced world, the competition to attract “the best in the class” is a challenge. Or is it? Let us use our experience and passion for the industry to always be on the outlook for young men or women, – those with this little extra and who are capable to develop our industry further.
I have already met some of these people, but one in particular stands out as a true rising star.
The young and ambitious Jack Fenlon (32) BEng Yacht & Powercraft Design, Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering is the man to watch.
Jack Fenlon happens to be the son of the person who took over my job as CEO of Windy Scandinavia AB , and I remember so well when his father, just after Jack had finished high school with honours, gave him a job in the GRP Shop to learn boat building inside out and from bottom up.
Hardworking like his father, Jack moved from the GRP floor over to the Assembly Team and soon became a junior boat builder on a large WINDY project.
We saw a bright, young man, with passion for boats, who wanted to learn much more and one day become something significant to our industry. This is now more than 14 years ago and we are super-impressed.
Today Jack Fenlon can look back at a following career:
Southampton Solent University (2009 – 2012)
BEng Yacht Powercraft Design.
Naval Architecture & Marine Eng.
Windy Scandinavia – AB Junior Yacht Designer
Van Dutch Marine – Production Manager
Fairline Yachts – Project Manager
Palmer Johnson Yachts – Project Manager
Gulf Craft – Dubai Manager
From each and every of his superiors he has been praised and admired for his excellence and I was particularly pleased when reading that Jack was selected for the Rising Star Award at METS 2020.
Fascinated by his solid background and personal motivation, I asked Jack the following questions;
- At what age and stage in your early life did you stake out your direction towards boat design, engineering and the marine industry?
Thank you for your kind words and congratulations on your lifetime achievement award, thoroughly deserved. When I joined Windy 14 years ago, I was not entirely sure which direction my life and career would take me, equally, I am always looking for the next challenge and I am always looking to learn. I relish working together with people who are passionate about what their job and to learn from them; so, starting out at Windy Boats, along with great mentors like yourself and my father, gave me the opportunity to do just that and push me forwards to forge a career in the boat industry.
My passion for this industry was like love at first sight. When I found out that Southampton Solent University had a course specialized in Yacht Design and Naval architecture, well, my path was set and I felt it was a natural progression to follow from working on the shop floor.
- How important to your young success do you think the early days on the shop floor are and what impact do they have on you work today?
Invaluable. The backbone of our industry is the boat builders and they are true artisans. Although we are we are moving towards the digital and automation, boats will always be bespoke and hand crafted, this is just in the nature of the industry as we are building peoples dreams with skill at it’s foundation.
I still find myself often discussing and picking the brains of the team on shop floor on how we should get past challenges, solve problems, and build more efficiently.
- Considering your age Jack, you have worked on a number of significant projects in different companies and cultures; – some of which only the very few can dream of coming across throughout a working life. Is there one job or project in particular which stands out as being the most rewarding for you and why?
Agreed, I have been fortunate over the years to work at many great shipyards with great people and all the projects have been memorable to me in in their own ways.
A particular project which was extremely rewarding for me personally it would have been the Fairline 63 GTO. Having joined Fairline shortly after their re-launch, the Fairline 63 GTO was their statement to the world that this prestigious brand was once again back on the market.
The project was a challenge to say the least, but throughout I was able to witness a shipyard pull together and create a beautiful yacht. The pride and joy to see such a project come to fruition and then to be crowned the winner of the 2017 World Yacht Trophies was fantastic and we felt a great sense of achievement for all involved.
- You belong to a new generation which focuses more and more on green footprints , environment and sustainability. What impact do you think this is going to have on the boat industry in the years to come?
I think it is incredibly important development for all of us. Yachting at its core is about being outside in the ocean, in the nature. It is vital for our planet and industry to preserve the areas where yachts are used, we must continue to work towards this.
I believe that with development of electric motors and battery technology this is big step in the right direction and electric boats are here to stay. The big game changer will be the development of more energy dense batteries of the next years then we will see more electric boats come to market.
- You are now entering a bigger job with one of the most prestigious names in the industry.
Where do you see yourself in 5 year.
And 10 years from now?
I look forward to my new role, it will be a great opportunity for me to share what I have learned in the industry thus far. I hope I will be able to make an impact on this industry as you have, Knut. I hope I can contribute to driving forward positive change and collaborate with the next generation of young professionals in our industry to make a more sustainable future long term.
- What is your recommendation to the mature generation of our industry with regards to attracting and welcoming highly qualified and passionate women and men to our industry?
In this digital age we are now connected more than ever, with information readily accessible at our fingertips. We are also more aware of the environmental challenges that face this planet. Young professionals entering the industry are keen to have a job that is not only rewarding but also contributes to a better and more sustainable future.
My advice would be to allow young professionals to develop and work towards those goals and embrace new technologies, new ideas under the guidance of the mature generation.
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