Yacht design loses a legend

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DEC. 6 — Motor yacht designer Tom Fexas, best known for his Midnight Lace design, died last Wednesday in Stuart, Fla. He was 65.

Fexas’ death was confirmed by a family member, the New York Times reports, but as of Monday the cause had not been determined. Fexas had reportedly been hospitalized for an unidentified illness.

Fexas designed Midnight Lace — a 44-foot, motoryacht that featured fine wood detailing, a clipper bow and retro Italian styling — and debuted the boat at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show in 1978, the report says. Unlike Midnight Lace, other popular boats of the period had little exterior wood and featured sharp, contemporary lines.

“While there are many ‘classic cruisers’ available on the market today, few have the heritage of the Midnight Lace,” Fexas says on his Web site. “Although the first Midnight Lace was completed in 1978, the Lace heritage goes back much further than that — back to the pre-World War II commuter boats and World War II PT boats creating a distinctive vessel that will never be mistaken for anything else.”

Fexas graduated from the Westlawn Institute of Yacht Design after earning a bachelor of Marine Engineering form the State University of New York Maritime College. He started Tom Fexas Yacht Design in 1966 and went on to design more than 1,000 boats that were built by some of the world’s top builders, including Palmer Johnson, Mikelson Yachts and Grand Banks. In 2005 Fexas collaborated with Wes P. Wheeler, great grandson of Wheeler Yacht Company founder Howard E. Wheeler, to design the 55-foot Legacy Sedan, Wheeler’s first new yacht in more than 40 years.

Fexas is survived by his wife, Regina; his mother, Antonia Fexas; and his sister, Penelope Casas, the report says.

— Jason Fell