Mark started sailing at the age of six, racing with the Manly juniors, and then went on to spend his teenage years at the Royal Motor Yacht Club where he completed his apprenticeship as a shipwright.
By the age of twenty he was competing in the Admiral’s cup as a professional yachtsman and then spent ten exciting and challenging years travelling the world on the match racing Grand Prix circuit.
This experience gave Mark a grounding in every aspect of designing and building boats. From sweeping the floors to helping John McConachy develop cutting edge innovations for America’s Cup yachts, he learned the trade and craft from top to bottom and inside out.
And then in 1995, he saw an opportunity.
Inspired by the lines of the lobster boats he’d seen while racing in the US, he decided to design and build what he called a ‘sailor’s power boat’ – a highly efficient, high speed cruising motor yacht.
He studied the competitors and found them to be heavy, unstable and wildly inefficient. So, drawing from his racing experience, he set out to build a lighter boat, one whose hull gave a fine entry into the water, a softer ride and consumed only half the fuel.
Working with basic 2D drawings, he created the concept of the first PB38 and immediately sold four of them off the plan.
Since those early days, the PB38 has spawned the nine models in our range, every one of them an evolution of its predecessor.
Twenty-five years on, Mark is still involved in every aspect of the design and manufacture of our boats. They’re born in his imagination. (Seventeen have started their lives in the notebook beside his bed!)
The designs are then rendered under his scrupulous eye before construction is approved. Once in the factory, every boat is subject to his fanatical attention to detail.
It’s fair to say that if you have a problem on board a Palm Beach Motor Yacht, Mark is the only CEO in the world who can pick up a tool kit and come and fix it!
Back in the late 90s, Mark first collaborated with Bob Oatley to develop a series of 60ft racing yachts. This teamwork culminated in the sloop ‘Another Duchess’ which proved to be the star performer in the 2003 Race Week at Hamilton Island. With Mark at the helm, she was described by competitors and pundits alike as ‘Unstoppable!’
However, it was the arrival of Wild Oats IX in the same year that cemented Australia’s most successful racing partnership. Named after one of Bob’s vineyards in Mudgee, she was the first yacht equipped with a hydraulic canting keel and took Mark to victory in the Admiral’s Cup in England.
Her successor, the 66ft Wild Oats X, also enjoyed great success and won line honours in both the 2005 and 2007 Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race.
But it is Wild Oats XI that will go down in history. This 100ft maxi yacht was completed only two weeks before the 2005 Rolex Sydney to Hobart yacht race and yet went on to win the ‘treble’ – line honours, handicap and race record.
And that was just the start of her story. Since then, Mark has skippered Wild Oats XI to victory a further eight times, winning the Treble a second time and repeatedly breaking all records in this most gruelling of races.
It’s the stuff of legend.