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Jim Donovan / jp donovan DESIGN 


In 1995 Jim Donovan established jp donovan DESIGN, producing custom yacht designs and working as a designer for AC syndicates specializing in design and construction of sophisticated composite structures. His  work has been instrumental in the creation of over 170 yacht designs ranging in size from 20 foot day-sailers to 130 foot luxury yachts, including  America’s Cup yachts, Round the World Race yachts, Grand-Prix racing yachts, and successful One Designs.


 Jim grew up sailing high performance racing yachts in San Francisco. The experience of racing aboard these yachts has been key in understanding what is needed to make superior designs. His favorite yachts were the ULDBs (Ultra Light Displacement Boats) developing in California at the time. The yachts were extremely fast downwind, especially in the open ocean. He raced these yachts both inshore and offshore in the challenging conditions often found off the rugged Northern California coast. This experience shaped Jim’s concept for light weight fast designs that could withstand demanding weather and sea conditions.


His enthusiasm for yacht racing evolved initially as a sailmaker during his teenage years, and then as a yacht designer working with some of the most respected yacht designers; Bruce Farr, Doug Peterson, and Gary Mull.


Working as a designer with Bruce Farr for over 9 years provided the opportunity to work on over 100 premier racing yachts when Farr’s office dominated the offshore yacht racing scene. Designing so many high profile projects was an exceptional experience that provided a comprehensive understanding of yacht design, coupled with years of sailing aboard the yachts to observe first-hand the design operation at sea.  His favorite projects included the Round-the-World race Maxis, Volvo 60s, Mumm30, and Lake Garda Class Libera yachts.





Jim has worked as a designer with several America's Cup syndicates, specializing in design engineering and project management of the yacht and rig construction; Aloha Racing 1998-99, Stars and Stripes 2000-03 and Victory Challenge 2007. 


While living in Hawaii career opportunities included working with the design engineering & construction of several high speed powerboat projects. This experience expanded  Jim’s capabilities and providedopportunities in using CFD and FEA analysis of designs. While Jim raced actively in both offshore and sportboat regattas, he developed methods for producing remarkably fair hull forms with hull surfacing programs. The products of this work can be seen in his latest GP 26 designs and the carbon 6m yacht he built in Hawaii.





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