The rustic barn buildings, the heady smell of fresh grass in the air and the slightly unnerving feeling that we’re in the middle of nowhere do nothing to hint at Paul Mayes’ chosen profession.
“People are pretty surprised to find out that I build these boats in a workshop like this. The luxury yacht world is full of some pretty high net worth individuals, after all.”
These are the words of Paul Mayes himself, creator of a rather spectacular wooden boat that, a few years ago, garnered international acclaim from the boating press, along with an invitation to a prestigious show on the French Riviera.
“We had someone come up from the south of France and he definitely wasn’t expecting to find what he did. But, he brought some bottles of his own wine and, by the end of the stay, he was asleep upstairs on the sofa! He definitely found himself at home here.”
Oh, and by the way, did we mention that all his friends actually refer to Mr Mayes as Elvis?
“Elvis’ two sons have picked up a number of skills from their talented dad and can often be found in the workshop”
But Elvis is correct. His rural workshop (hidden away on a farm a stone’s throw away from the UK’s south coast) is rustic to say the least.
With his second boat build well underway – the frame for the hull was laid down just before the turn of 2017 – space can be at a premium too, especially as Mayes.Design isn’t always a one-man, boat-building band.
Elvis’ two sons, Isaac and Eli, have picked up a number of skills from their talented dad and can often be found lending a hand in the workshop. Our visit has certainly made the place crowded, though Ted, the family’s dog (complete with canine bowtie), is definitely relishing the extra company.
So, what makes Elvis’ creations so special? So special, in fact, that acclaimed naval architect, the late Ed Dubois, went on record and say that Paul is “one of the finest craftsmen of wooden vessels I have come across in my 40 years in professional yacht design”.
While racing classic super yachts down in St Tropez (someone’s got to, we guess!), Elvis noticed the gorgeous wooden vessels still carried modern – and rather unsightly – plastic tenders to get the crews to shore.
The seed for an idea was planted and, when he realised no-one else was going to build it, he set about turning his vision into a reality.
“Now, after a brief hiatus from the high seas, Elvis is back with his own boat-building company”
The result was a unique blend of a utilitarian RIB and an elegant, Riva-style speedboat. Surprisingly (at least to Elvis) the project garnered more than a few admiring glances when it was launched a few years ago.
Now, after a brief hiatus from the high seas, Elvis is back with his own boat-building company – Mayes.Design – and a second design, inspired by the classic Grand Prix racing cars of the 1930s. Yep, he’s definitely our kind of guy…
It’s not just his ocean-going offerings that we’re smitten with though. Inside the workshop, Elvis’s personal project is a Suzuki GS850 bobber-cum-café-racer, while his daily driver is a Volkswagen T25 pick-up, imported from Sweden by a friend who regularly scours Scandinavia for retro Vee-Dubs.
If you think it looks familiar, you might have spotted it at the Jimmy’s RideClub Rally back in May. If all things go to plan though, Elvis will be rocking up at the next rally on two wheels or, better yet, on the water. Watch this space.
Want to know more about the Jimmy’s RideClub? Check out everyone’s rides and sign-up to the club right here.