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The Masthead

William H. (Bill) Shaw


illiam H. (Bill)

Shaw is a West-

lawn graduate and a

graduate of the U.S.

Merchant Marine Acad-

emy, having served in

the Navy in World War

II as a cadet midship-

man. He was chief de-

signer for Pearson

Yachts, one of Amer-

ica’s largest sailboat


Before joining Pearson

in 1964, he worked as a designer under Olin

Stephens at Sparkman & Stephens in New

York. After his time at Sparkman & Stephens,

Shaw created or oversaw more than 40 sail-

boat and powerboat designs, as well as ca-


Shaw was also the co-founder of the Midget

Ocean Racing Club, which was sparked by his

Shaw 24 design. “When he got to Pearson, he

just carried his design philosophy forward.

When you think of how many Pearson boats

are out there, my God. He worked hard to make sure that sail-

boats didn’t become stripped-down machines with popsicle sticks

hanging down the bottom of them.”

Shaw’s designs were “conservative and above-all safe,” says Tom

Hazelhurst, whose company marketed Pearson boats and who

became Shaw’s friend on and off the water. “He was not one to

reach out to the edges of design. I don’t think Bill would take a

chance with a life or a boat or [would] design anything that was


As a result, today’s Pearson owners are devoted to the brand, says

William Lawrence, who heads the Pearson Yacht Owners Associa-

tion. That devotion “came from the fact that he designed a very

safe, sound, robust boat” that was “always reasonably priced and

always well-made,” says Lawrence.

Shaw departed us on his final sail, in 2006.

William H. Shaw

Pearson 40

Dec. 2014 Page 12

Westlawn graduate Bill Shaw wrote this article on designing for series production for Westlawn at the height of his career

as the head designer for Pearson Yachts, one of the most successful production sailboat builders in U.S. history. — Ed