Living , Modern

Bruce D.


1952 -

Bruce Nelson is known for excellence in yacht design and engineering.

Nelson was a graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in Naval Architecture. He has been most notable as a principal yacht designer for the America’s Cup contenders and America One challenge. Nelson is a veteran America’s Cup racer as well as designer. He teamed with Dennis Conner on three Stars & Stripes boats (12-metre, catamaran, and IACC) from 1985 to 1995 as both a racer and designer. In 1995, he was the principal designer for the PACT 95 defense syndicate yacht Young America, which was ultimately chosen to be the defender.

Nelson is also an Etchells 22 sailor of some note, having won many local regattas in the San Diego fleet at the national level.

Bruce Nelson and Bruce Marek were the principles of a prolific San Diego, California yacht design team, Nelson Marek, formed in 1979. Their first custom design was the one ton, Rush. Built in just 72 days, and launched three hours before the San Diego Yachting Cup, it’s lived up to its name. It was one of the most successful racing yachts in the U.S. in 1980, winning 21 races including the North American One Tons, Chicago to Mackinac, Port Huron to Mackinac, and Great Lakes champion.

Nelson continues to operate Nelson Marek, while Marek is an independent designer on the East Coast. Most of his designs are for custom built yachts including world class racers, although they have designed some production models including the Catalina 42 hull and the Merit 28. One of the more interesting stories is the Catalina 42, the hull of which was originally designed as a limited production ocean racer.

Accomplishments and Honors

  • 1985-1987 Designer Stars & Stripes
  • 1988-1990 Designer Stars & Stripes
  • 1991-1992 Designer Stars & Stripes
  • 1993-1995 Designer Young America
  • 1998-2000 Designer America One
  • IOR Designs: Crackerjack, Electra, Sleeper, Reliance, Ragtime, Cowboy, Infinity, Stars & Stripes, Rowdy, Lonestar, Renegade
  • Production Models: Marek 30, 1D 35, CM1200, Marek 36 – 55, Catalina 42, Merit 28, Santana 30/30, Schock 34 Grand Prix

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