Bruce Roberts Review

The worst boats are home-built, and the best boats are home-built. – Common Saying

Bruce Roberts boats are either extraordinary or awful. Bruce Roberts is an Australian designer who sells his designs directly to the public. Also, he’s sold many to professional builders since 1966 when he and Andrew Slorach opened the first office in Australia. Bruce says, “Over the past 41 years many boats have been built to our plans and branded with the professional builders names … as you know builders come and go … even some of the biggies lately.” Bruce Roberts keeps going strong booked with production and commercial design work until mid 2010.

“We started our design business in 1966.” During the 1970’s and early 1980’s, Bruce and Andrew expanded to the USA and Europe. According to Bruce during this period Fine Lines aka Bruce Roberts International pirated many of the plans while copying a few post 1980 from customer files. Bruce Roberts International claims Bruce Roberts split off in 2000 to form Bruce Roberts Design. It makes sense to me to buy your designs from Bruce because he wrote them. If you buy your plans from Bruce Roberts International, Bruce will not recognize your boat as an authentic Bruce Roberts design. He will not provide support.

No two Bruce Roberts are even closely alike. In Fort Lauderdale, three Bruce Roberts have been around recently. Two are 44 footers, one a 45 foot boat, all asking around $100,000, and all built in the 1980’s. If you think of production boats like Swan you’d find similar styled boats within the same length, age, and price range. But comparing these three you’ll find one with high freeboard, another with long overhangs, and the last with a big bowsprit. They are not related except by name. And beyond design, the builds are wildly different. A professional yard in NY built one with a teak deck and green counter tops, another home-built on Georgian Bay in Canada in beautiful woodwork, and last built in a “Bruce Roberts yard” in South Africa. It is a mixed pot for sure.

If you want to build a Bruce Roberts design, he will provide plans, a kit, or set you up with a builder. Bruce says, “We have many professional builders and yards that have and continue to build our boats … the mix is about 33% professional builders, 33% talented amateurs and 33% I would rather forget!” You can get the builder to partially or completely finish the design. No matter the choice, resale value will be less because of the always questionable build. As the saying goes, either a Bruce Roberts is better quality than a Swan or worse than a Bavaria. No matter, you know you are getting a quality design by Bruce Roberts.

2 Replies to “Bruce Roberts Review”

  1. No axe to grind here, and I am a real person too. Thanks for the interview and okaying the article in ’09. I do not think I have changed anything measurably since? Let me know if you would like any changes. I hope this review has and will in the future inspire people to purchase one of your great cruising designs. All my best. Please stop by if you swing through Fort Lauderdale ever.

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