Illustrated by Jim Ewing
For outright sex appeal and legendary fishability, there’s nothing quite like the Buddy Davis 61. The exaggerated bow flare, the huge foredeck, the soaring outriggers, the action station aft surrounded by gleaming teak, where a chrome-and-varnish fighting chair can take center stage — it’s eye-catching, to say the least.
The builder, Carson “Buddy” Davis, was a North Carolina fisherman from Wanchese. As a teenager, he started work as a mate, fishing upper Pamlico Sound inside Oregon Inlet. A captain at age 19, he, like many other local fishermen, took to building boats in the off-season. In 1980, at 31, he began building full time. An innovator from the beginning, Davis paired diagonal mahogany plywood with fiberglass for his hulls and eventually went to all-fiberglass construction.
The Buddy Davis 61 may just be the ultimate expression of the much-admired “Carolina” style. “Carolina boats are some of the most aesthetically pleasing vessels around,” wrote journalist Marshall Brodie. “Buddy Davis’ yachts are a prime example.” But the distinctive look is rooted in the boat’s role as an offshore fishing machine. That graceful hull has a deep, narrow entry to slice into heavy seas, and for handling a Cape Hatteras head sea, there’s nothing like that signature bow flare.
Davis and Donald Blount, the legendary naval architect and marine engineer, worked together on the BD61, and it’s considered one of the top 10 sportfishing boats of all time. Davis produced some 300 boats in a career spanning three decades; he died in 2011 at age 62.
A sportfishing yacht has to blend aesthetics with excellent performance and seakeeping qualities. Mission accomplished with the Buddy Davis 61.
June 2014 issue