Doug Peterson, a two-time winner of the America’s Cup, was a member of the design teams for America3 (winner in 1992), Team New Zealand (winner in 1995), and Prada Challenge (2000 and 2003). Peterson’s brilliant understanding of the art of yacht design and a strong grasp of measurement rules made him one of the best naval architects of his generation. “He has a huge talent for designing a boat that can go through waves—any kind of waves. Plus, his knowledge of yachting is second to none,” declares David Egan, one of his former colleagues.
Peterson’s talent is best exemplified by his work as a lead designer of Team New Zealand’s Black Magic (NZL-32), one of the most dominant yachts in America’s Cup history. Black Magic’s boat-speed, estimated to be about three and half minutes faster on the Cup course than the American defender, helped Team New Zealand deliver a 5-0 victory in the 1995 match. Including the match, Team New Zealand achieved an incredible 42-1 record with an average margin of victory of 3:06. Black Magic’s advantage in speed was due in part to Peterson’s decision to design her with a narrow beam and a mast positioned further aft than her conventional counterparts, establishing a new paradigm in America’s Cup Class yacht design. Peterson further attributed the success of the boat to using a total approach to design: “We started on a path with the hull, but then interconnected other components like mast and sails, always looking at it as a whole. That is our strength.”
In addition to his success in the America’s Cup, Peterson is also well known for dominating the IOR offshore racing scene in the 70’s and 80’s and for designing scores of fast, popular and successful one-off and production racing and cruising boats. He is a self-taught naval architect whose influences included his father—an aerospace engineer—and yacht designer Wendell “Skip” Calkins. Peterson reflects, “I started putting boats down on paper when I was 10, and have never wanted to do anything else.”