Michael William (Bill) Langan
Just two months ago, Bill was honored with the prestigious Leadership Award by the International Superyacht Society (ISS), recognized by his peers for his outstanding contributions to the standards, prestige and character of the luxury yachting industry.
Although he was unable to travel to accept the award in person, he was deeply moved by the tribute.
Born in Greenwich, Conn., on June 9, 1955, to Dr. Michael Joseph and Kathleen Holman Langan, Bill competed in most of the major ocean sailing races around the world. Starting in the sport on Long Island Sound at age 10, he was proud to have participated in 20 consecutive Newport-to- Bermuda Races, his first at age 15, and to eventually serve as the race’s technical director.
Bill graduated from Greenwich High School and Webb Institute with a bachelor’s degree in naval architecture and marine engineering. Following a student internship at Sparkman and Stephens, the New York-based yacht design and brokerage firm, he joined their design department in 1978 as chief draftsman. Two years later, Olin Stephens named him chief designer, a position Olin held for 50 years.
Bill’s early work with Sparkman and Stephens included project management of the 12-meter yacht Freedom that won the America’s Cup race of 1980. In preparation for the 1987 America’s Cup challenge, Bill was chosen as designer for the America II campaign sponsored by the New York Yacht Club. It was the last time 12-meter yachts would compete in the America’s Cup, and with that change Bill decided to concentrate the firm’s business on luxury sailing yachts over 75 feet. Over the course of 20 years with the company, Bill was responsible for over 300 individual designs.
In 1994, Bill participated in an expedition, headed by former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury William Simon, which navigated the icy conditions of the Northwest Passage from Alaska to Greenland. Bill redesigned, refitted and strengthened Simon’s yacht, the 175-foot Itasca, to make Simon’s dream journey a reality.
In 1998, Bill fulfilled his own dream and founded Langan Design Associates Inc. of Newport, and settled his family in Jamestown. With Bill at the helm, his firm completed over 40 designs, each unique, but all of them timeless in style, with attention to craftsmanship, advanced technology, and seaworthiness. His design vision was well received starting with his first design, the 130-foot ketch Victoria of Strathearn, which won design awards from both ShowBoats International and the ISS.
Later designs include Eos, a 305-foot three-masted schooner, which is the largest private sailing yacht in the world to date. Bill encouraged his wife to start her own firm, Candace Langan Interior Decoration, specializing in yacht interiors. Their most recent collaboration, Calliope, a 42-meter motor yacht, is featured in the December 2010 issue of Yacht International.
Bill was a member of Conanicut Yacht Club in Jamestown, New York Yacht Club, and the Storm Trysail Club. He served as chairman of the Cruising Club of America Technical Committee for more than 12 years.
Bill was devoted to his family. He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Candace Register Langan, and his two children, Tom and Annie, of Jamestown; his parents, of Greenwich, Conn.; six siblings and their spouses: Meg Moore (John) of Reston, Va., Ellen Langan (Steve Krafchick) of Seattle, Wash., Katie Langan Santee (Kevin) of Mamaroneck, N.Y., Betsy Dell (Roger) of Roseville, Calif., Bob Langan (Margot) of Portland, Ore., and Stephen Langan (Kathy) of Bedford, N.H.; his mother-in-law Anne Mickle Register of Chestertown, Md., brothers in law Croft Register (Pam) and Fred Register (Connie), and 16 nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Jan. 8, at 2 p.m., at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Jamestown. Following the church service, there will be a reception at the Conanicut Yacht Club.
Memorial contributions may be made in his memory to the Jimmy Fund, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 10 Brookline Place West, Brookline, MA 02445- 7226.