Hinckley announces acquisition of Morris Yachts



TRENTON — New Year’s Day marked the end of one era and the beginning of another in fine boatbuilding as the Hinckley Company announced on Monday that it had acquired all of the assets of Morris Yachts and that as of Jan. 1, the Trenton sailboat builder had become a part of the Hinckley family.

No terms of the purchase were disclosed.

In a statement issued late Monday afternoon, Hinckley said that it plans to continue the Morris boatbuilding operation in Trenton and its service yard in Northeast Harbor under the name of Morris Yachts LLC.

“Nothing will shrink,” Hinckley’s sales Vice President Phil Bennett said on Tuesday.

“Bottom line, we are super excited,” Cuyler Morris, until last week the president of the former Morris Yachts, said Tuesday. “It’s a great thing for Morris Yachts, the Morris family, the industry and the community as a whole.”

Both Hinckley and Morris build high-quality custom and semi-custom yachts, with plants located within a quarter-mile of each other in Trenton.

Morris builds a variety of elegant sailboats ranging from 29 to 80 feet in length. Hinckley, founded in 1928 and long known for its elegant sailing yachts, is now best known for its waterjet-powered picnic boats, runabouts and motor yachts, although it launched a new line of 50-foot cruiser-racer sailboats (and two 42-foot daysailers) in 2015.

With the two companies joined under the new arrangement, the Hinckley statement said, “about 380 craftsmen, engineers and technicians will provide a deep pool of talent for the building of world-class yachts.”

Tom Morris launched Morris Yachts in 1972, when he built a 25-foot Pemaquid Friendship sloop for himself and his family. Two years later, Morris began a long association with Camden yacht designer Chuck Paine, launching its first double-ended 26-foot Frances sloop. In 1979, another double-ender, the Leigh 30-footer, took to the water followed in 1980 by the first transom-stern 29-foot Annie.

Morris introduced its first Paine-designed Ocean Series yacht in 1988. Throughout the 1980s, and continuing today, Morris built boats from nearly a dozen Paine designs ranging in size from 28 to 51 feet.

In 2004, the company introduced the M36, an elegant weekender-daysailer designed by Sparkman & Stephens. The M-Series now includes boats ranging in length from the sporty M-29x to the fast, ocean-going M52.

Between the Newport Boat Show in September and Christmas of 2015, Cuyler Morris said, the company had taken firm orders for seven new boats, “29s, 36s, 42s,” and that more potential sales were in the pipeline.

As a hands-on boatbuilder, innovator and a life-long sailor, Tom Morris was deeply involved in the process of designing and building the sailing yachts that bear his name until his death in 2008. Since 2001, Cuyler Morris, his son, has run the company.

Although more “plans and details will be forthcoming” over the next few weeks, Cuyler Morris said Tuesday, “”I will be very involved in the company going forward in sales and making sure we continue to build great Morris Yachts.”

Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. srappaport@ellsworthamerican.com