"The best revenge is living well" - Billy Joel
Vendetta: "an often-prolonged series of retaliatory, vengeful, or hostile acts”
The legend of Vendetta lives on with the restoration of Billy Joel's custom designed 57ft luxury channel cruiser now berthed in Newport Beach California. Built on the East Coast, refitted on the West, Vendetta fulfills the vision of a unique group of yachtsmen striving to create the perfect luxury/commuter boat.
"What we're trying to do is with this thing is basically combine a PT boat's speed and durability with the look and feel of a “30s era commuter, with a low profile like a rumrunner.” - Billy Joel
It began to take shape around 2003. Billy Joel, yachtsman, boat builder, and Grammy award winning entertainer, had an idea. The Shelter Island 38 he created had become a success, but he knew there was more he could do with that concept. Designed after the Long Island commuter boats built in the 1920's for New York's wealthy businessmen, the Shelter Island could smoothly and quickly transport the fortunate owners across Long Island sound to Manhattan and back, just as the Vanderbilt's did in 1925.
What if he could build a commuter yacht for himself; one that could outperform and outclass anything in the sound? It would have to be bigger than the 38, and it would need massive power. Something with a classic design, yet with modern mechanicals, electronics, and amenities. Thus, was born the concept of Vendetta.
Billy consulted with the designer of the original Shelter Island, renowned architect Doug Zurn, who adapted the vision into a full-scale buildable design. Directors Shipyard, Mamaroneck, New York, was chosen for the build and she was commissioned in July of 2005. With a narrow, modified V-hull, and straight sections that culminate in a torpedo aft, the yacht was everything Joel had imagined after adding the twin 1300 HP Man diesel engines. It would carry Billy and his passengers from the new Long Island home he had just built to all of his favorite coastal locations at 45 plus knots in style.
Billy moved on, to other yachts, and other challenges. Vendetta was sold in 2016 to two California businessmen. The two had owned traditional yachts, but now sought a challenge in the Vendetta. Vendetta was conceived as a Spartan workhorse, a muscular commuter boat with a single purpose in mind. Transporting it to Newport Beach and the West Coast presented a unique challenge: How to turn that single purpose yacht into a refined coastal cruiser with longer distances, and more comfort, in mind. One of the partners, Rudy, took the reins and immediately enlisted the original architect, Doug Zurn to assist in the transformation. The goal was to refine the boat for its new place as a California coastal cruiser yet keep the integrity of Billy's original vision and classic style. The most challenging modification was the seating. The flat aft area behind the four cockpit seats was in Rudy's mind an opportunity to expand the useable space aboveboard. Doug Zurn redesigned the entire cockpit and rear deck area to accommodate a wraparound lounge seat and built in cocktail table. Along with new cockpit seats and built in cabinets, the boat was transformed into the luxury/entertainment yacht it is today.
Newport Harbor Shipyard in Newport Beach was commissioned for a refit the owner worked closely with the manager Jesse Salem to review every detail to ensure the yacht would be impeccable both inside and out. Complete restoration or renovation of the entire boat took place a two- and half-year period using the most skilled craftsman on the West Coast. Mechanically, other than some fine tuning, Vendetta retain the same propulsion systems and hull design that still affords 45 knot plus speeds.
The result is one of the finest examples of a unique, yet practical, custom designed watercraft residing on the West Coast.