Due to time and inherent bias, I remember Hylas history through a somewhat colored view. Despite these limitations and my failings as a writer, I hope the following account provides value to people interested in these fine yachts.
In the late 1970’s, Joseph Huang opened the Queen Long yard in Taiwan. Jack Kelly contracted them to build the Kelly Peterson 44/46. In 1981 building on their success with Kelly Yachts, Mr. Huang approached Sparkman & Stephens to design a 47′ sailboat. He left the design completely up to S&S. When Bill Stevens heard about the S&S 47 design, he ordered as many as he could and slapped his name on the boat, the Stevens 47. Bill Stevens ran Stevens Yacht Charters and had been buying Peterson 44’s from Queen Long. Many people confuse her as named after Rod Stephens of S&S, but the correct spelling is the Stevens 47. She was well built and designed, fast with a skeg rudder/fin keel, and roomy with three staterooms. And although a financial success as one, she was much more than a charter boat.
In 1984, building on his success, Mr. Huang asked German Frers to design the Hylas 42 and the Hylas 44. He coupled these designs with the successful Stevens 47, branding them “Hylas” after the Greek mythological youth who accompanied Hercules on the cruise of the Argonuats. “This daring youth symbolizes our fine yachts,” goes a vintage Hylas brochure. The Hylas 44 became popular for chartering. In response to feedback, Queen Long modified her. After the first thirteen hulls, Queen Long enlarged the cockpit. The enlarged cockpit provided more comfortable cockpit room for Caribbean cruising.
In the mid to late 1980’s, Bill Stevens of Stevens Yacht Charters experienced financial difficulties. Queen Long had built approximately 56 Stevens up to this point. Dick Jachney of Caribbean Yacht Charters (CYC) jumped in where Stevens left off. CYC became the most powerful Queen Long buyer. They used the Hylas 44 and Stevens 47 and based out of St. Thomas in the British Virgin Islands. With Stevens gone, they rebranded the 47 as the Hylas 47. Mr. Jachney could have chosen any yard in the world. He chose Queen Long Marine for its integrity, skill, and flexibility.
Dick Jachney formed a mutually lucrative business relationship with Joseph Huang of Queen Long. CYC meticulously maintained an ever enlarging fleet of Hylas 44 and 47 yachts. Mr. Jachney smartly induced prospective Hylas buyers to allow CYC to charter and split the cost of their new Hylas. Doing so, owners significantly saved on their purchase of a 44 or 47. After a couple years, they freely owned their Hylas. You can tell if a Hylas 44 or 47 of this era was independly or CYC bought by looking at the side of the cockpit. If she has a Hylas logo, then an independent broker sold her. Otherwise, she probably was in charter with CYC.
In 1990 to battle the new 10% US luxury tax, Dick Jachney became the president and founder of Hylas Yachts USA. Along with Mr. Huang, he sought to increase demand for Hylas yachts. Quickly, Mr. Jachney dropped production of the 42, never a viable chartering yacht. In 1991, he along with Tony Seibert of Explorer Yachts extended the Hylas 47 with a sugar scoop stern to become the Hylas 49, the new flagship of the Hylas line. They introduced her at the Annapolis Show in 1992. Later in 1992, they did the same with the 44 Hylas adding a sugar scoop stern for her to become the 45.5 Hylas. Finally in the same year, Hylas added a 51 Frers design.
In the early 1990’s, while these changes went on, a young Fort Lauderale yacht broker, Rob Jordan, was paying ever more attention to the relatively unknown Hylas brand. While successful in the Caribbean chartering, Hylas did not have an established cache in the mainstream US market. The brokerage Hylas market was nearly non-existant. First hand, Mr. Jordan had seen the Queen Long quality and Frers beauty of these fine yachts. With CYC based in the BVI’s, naturally the boats percolated to Fort Lauderdale, the geographic jumping point for Caribbean cruising.
In 1993, as Rob Jordan started his own brokerage, Jordan Yacht & Ship Co., pressure was building behind the Hylas brand. The Hylas name was about to explode onto the brokerage market. Because Hylas extended the 44 and 47 to the 45.5 and 49, many owners of the now out of date models wanted to trade up. These owners, wishing to trade up, found themselves in unknown territory. They needed to sell their beloved Hylas. Rob Jordan stepped up, filling this niche. Jordan Yachts became a dealer of new Hylas Yachts and a goto brokerage for pre-owned Hylas yachts.
During the mid 1990’s, Hylas and Jordan Yacht interests intertwined. Mr. Jachney stopped by the Jordan office along the 17th causeway in a complex known as pink city. Jordan Yachts helped with Hylas exhibits at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. Jordan Yacht brokers/captains delivered yachts from St. Thomas to Fort Lauderdale to put up for sale. One such broker, Sam Lewis, became the Fort Lauderdale commissioning agent of new Hylas yachts. When a new one transported in from Taiwan, Mr. Lewis outfitted and finished putting her together. Another broker/captain, John Kretschmer, became Hylas’ head delivery captain and wrote reviews for Sailing magazine. The 49 Hylas “is an excellent cruiser for anyone considering a serious, performance cruising boat, with comfort to spare” writes Mr. Kretschmer in a 1993 Sailing magazine review.
Around this time, Jordan Yachts became involved in an offshoot of Hylas. Tony Seibert of Explorer Yachts, who had been involved in the addition of the sugar scoop stern to the 47 Hylas, had bought the third hull, Loose Shoes, and fine tuned her with improvements to perfect the 49 design. Mr. Seibert partnered with Hylas and Queen Long. These rare Explorer versions have ice cooler lazarettes, a washdown valve forward, and other well thought out touches that have become standard features on all Hylas yachts. Explorer Yachts was involved in the Hans Christian Offshore Explorer series including the HC 475 Explorer.
In 1995, Hylas replaced the 45.5 with a Frers, sugar scoop sterned 46 Hylas along the same lines. The 46 Hylas unleased another wave of Hylas boats on the brokerage market. Around the same time, Hylas retired the 51 Hylas which never worked out as the larger charter yacht CYC envisioned. CYC offered new boats for sale both on a “private ownership basis and on the purchase-and-charter basis” as writes Bill Lee in his September 1996 review of the Hylas 46.
On November 3, 1997, Queen Long produced the first hull of the Frers 54. More owners traded up, and Hylas had another hit design for cruising and chartering. Michael Smith of the October 1999 issue of Yachting writes about the comfort and ease of the Hylas 54. When the wind picked up at one point “there was brief talk of setting the spinnaker, but after a couple minutes with cold compresses on our forheads, it went away” but “don’t get the idea that the Hylas 54 is a namby-pamby yacht intended only for sheltered-water sailing. She’s a true bluewater vagabond, built tough.” The glowing reviews continued to pile on. Mr. Jordan was part of a growing crowd of Hylas admirers. Other brokers at Jordan Yachts became admirers of Hylas yachts. Jordan Yachts kept selling pre-owned Hylases as Caribbean sailors retired or traded up. On February 23, 1999, they launched hull number six, a 54 Raised Saloon version, another popular design.
Around 2000, the owners sold CYC to VIP Charters. They switched to focus on importing new Hylas yachts. They shifted from St. Thomas to charming Marblehead, MA. The Hylas brand was well established coast to coast now. Hylas did not depend on CYC. People clamored for the Hylas line of 46, 49, 54, and 54 RS. In fact, the disappearance of CYC improved the reputation of the Hylas. Chartered boats carry a stigma. The existence of a charter fleet even hurts the resale value of non-chartered yachts of the same make.
By 2004, the secret Hylas brand Rob Jordan admired was worldwide, and the brokerage market was mature. Hylas was making larger yachts with the 54 and 54 RS, attracting an increasingly sophisticated audience. In 2005, to satiate demand for an ever larger Hylas, they introduced the Frers 66 footer. The design like the 42 and 51 never caught on, and Queen Long dropped production. In 2007, Hylas Yachts USA introduced an extended version of the 66 Frers design, the 70 foot Frers which has become a grand success.
In 2009, with the US economy in a recession, Hylas can barely keep up with demand. Hylas is popular beyond belief, known far and wide for unquestioned build quality and unrivaled design beauty. The matured market leaves Hylas yachts for sale worldwide from California to Spain to Turkey. Still, a concentration sail in the Caribbean. These yachts really do symbolize the daring of Hylas, the Greek youth. For an in depth look at individual models, please see our Hylas Models Page.
Please contact us or Hylas Yachts USA directly for new build information. Contact the Hylas Yachts Owner Association for questions. For help purchasing or selling your Hylas, please feel free to contact Jordan Yachts.