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Tom Fexas - Motor Yacht & Boat Designer Biography - Mikelson Yachts

Tom Fexas was an innovative designer who possessed a large and varied portfolio of boat designs, ranging from custom luxury yachts to fishing trawlers. His name is well-known and respected in the world of powerboats and yachts. Born in 1941 in Queens, New York, Fexas was inspired by the commuter yachts that he would often see docking at the Long Island Sound (1). Much of his design work reflects this interest in sleek, leveled yachts that glide swiftly on the water much like his beloved commuter boats. Fexas was a unique nautical architect that could tackle problems from an engineer’s perspective and collaborated with the best builders and designers in the world.

Tom Fexas Hat Sunglasses
Tom Fexas Boat SketchTome Fexas Mikelson M43 LayoutMikelson M70 Fishing YachtMiklenson M75 Fishing Yacht

Fexas first gained notice as a visionary architect with Midnight Lace, his most famous achievement. In 1978, a client came to his office to request a design but upon seeing Fexas’ original plans, decided to commission the yacht now known as the Midnight Lace. The luxury yacht first debuted in the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show where it garnered much attention and interest. This allowed Fexas to go into production with famous Chinese boat maker Cheoy Lee and until the late 80s, different models of Midnight Lace were produced (5). Fexas owed the styling of the Lace and its various incarnations to two of his favorite boats– “the commuter boats of the 20s and the World War II-era Elco PT boats” (6). Among his other pioneering designs were the 126’ motoryacht Time and the award-winning 150’ La Baroness (7).

Aside from designing, Fexas was also a witty and knowledgeable columnist who wrote articles for several boating magazines. In 1985, he was approached by Bonnie O’Boyle, the editor of a fledgling magazine called Power and Motoryacht, to be a monthly writer (7). He wrote for the magazine until 2003 and was given free rein to choose his own topics, much to the delight of his readers who enjoyed his irreverent and honest take on the boating industry (7). The magazine has since become a distinct presence in the powerboat publishing industry.

Due to popular demand, Fexas revived the Midnight Lace in 2003 by “widening the beam by a whopping 42 inches, adding more horsepower, and creating a larger flying bridge” (8). Essentially, he modernized his classic design. Taking this redesign a step further, Mike Joyce, owner of Hargrave Custom Yachts, collaborated with Fexas to build another 52-foot Midnight Lace. Unfortunately, Fexas passed away on November 29th, 2006 and was unable to see the debut of this model. The new Midnight Lace, dubbed Zorro, was unveiled at the 2007 Miami boat show (9).

In the same year, the global luxury resource Robb Report named the 52 Midnight Lace one of the best production yachts of the year and a grand tribute to the late designer (8). During his lifetime, Tom Fexas had over 1,000 of his designs built by some of the best in the world, including Palmer Johnson, Mikelson Yachts, Grand Banks, and Abeking & Rasmussen (4). Carrying on his work is wife Regina Fexas who took over as president of TFYD and his design team who draw inspiration from many of Fexas’ original designs(10), ensuring that his legacy of Italian styling and sleek, well-proportioned yachts will continue to have an influence on the powerboat community.

  1. Coyle, Jay. “Midnight Lace 52.” Yachting Magazine. August 2007.

  2. Coyle, Jay. “Tom Fexas (1941-2006), Innovator, Teacher.” Yachting Magazine. 3 October 2007. Link

  3. Museler, Chris. “Tom Fexas; motor yacht designer; 65.” New York Times. 20 December 2006. Link

  4. “Designing Boats & Careers: Westlawn and Tom Fexas Yacht Design Working Together for Over Four Decades.” 29 April 2008. Link

  5. “Tom Fexas Yachts.” Link

  6. Fexas, Tom. “Flights of Fancy.” Design Review. September 2004.

  7. FishNews. “Tom Fexas, Yacht Designer Extraordinaire, Dies at 65.” BigFishTackle. Link

  8. Mower, Marilyn M. “Best of the Best 2007: Production Yachts.” Robb Report. 01 June 2007. Link

  9. “Hargrave’s Take on a Legend.” Lakeland Boating. August 2007

  10. 10. Serio, Tom. “Fexas Yacht Design Crew Carries on Work of Late Namesake.” The Triton. 27 June 2007. Link

 

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