Sailing or motorboats? How Hinckley started building boats

Hinckley yachts
Photo courtesy: Hinckley Yachts

In the next issue of Barche a Motore you will find a report on those shipyards that move from sailing to motor (subscribe here to read it). Today, however, we give you a preview by talking about a shipyard that has made the history of motor and sailing: Hinckely Yachts. Elegant and tenacious, boats to face even the worst seas with no worries, with a construction quality that you can hardly find elsewhere. But how were Hinckley boats born? Did the sailing boats or the motorboats come first? And the Picnic Boats? Here is the story of Hinckley that Innes McGowan, the reference of the shipyard in Europe, told us in this interview.

When did Hinckley’s first motorboat arrive?

  • Although The Hinckley Co was founded in 1928, they did mostly repair work and it was not until 1933 that they built the first new Hinckley, a 36 foot powerboat.

When did the first sailing yacht arrive?

  • The Hinckley is located in Manset, Maine, on Mount Desert Island, one of the most fabulous cruising grounds on the East Coast of the US. Because of this, Henry Hinckley saw many beautiful sailing yachts come to the area. He knew he could built sailboats that were as good, if not better, than those from long established yards in Rhode Island and Long Island Sound, and because he always looked for ways to expand his business, he decided to have the naval architects at S & S design a sailboat specifically for him to build and offer to the public. The first was 29 feet and it was finished and launched in 1938.

Which are the common points between a Hinckley motorboat and a sailing boat?

  • The Hinckley Company always insisted that any boat they built be 1) able to handle the rough, open Atlantic ocean conditions right off their yard, 2) be built to the highest quality standards, using the best and latest materials and technology, and 3) be beautiful. Hinckley yachts had to turn heads in harbors all around the world, and they are often kept in many families for years, if not generations.

Now the company is more focused on sailing or on motorboats?

  • The company became famous for their sailboats, and even though they still built some powerboats through the years, sailboat models like the Pilot 35 and the Bermuda 40 dominated the business until 1994 when the 36 foot, water jet powered Picnic Boat was introduced. This powerboat model soon changed the mix of power and sailboats.

How many sailing boats Hinckley has built?

  • To date the company has built approximately 650 sailboats in total.

How many motorboats Hinckley has built?

  • The Picnic Boat changed everything for the company and as new models of powerboats from 29 to 55 feet were added, (and as people’s usage patterns changed), the powerboat part of the business soon eclipsed the sailboats. We have built roughly 1,200 powerboats and that number continues to expand.


Hinckley 35 classic Lobster now has outboard engines



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