World-renowned yacht designer Jason Ker, has been awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Maritime Studies by Solent University today.
Founder of Ker Yacht Design, an industry-leading company based in Winchester, Jason has forged a formidable reputation for racing yachts, later expanding into high performance cruising monohulls and catamarans.
Jason said: "I’m absolutely honoured to receive this award. Solent gave me a fantastic grounding in engineering that has allowed me to develop my skills and keep learning throughout my career. It’s amazing how the lessons I learned over 20 years ago still form so much of what I know today."
A passionate racing sailor from an early age and representing the UK at the senior level aged sixteen, Jason continued yacht racing during his time at Solent University, winning multiple National titles as a helmsman.
A diverse early career included building composite yachts near Sydney, conceptual R&D for fast car ferries in Tasmania, and multihulls and trimaran superyachts in the UK. Jason’s first design commission in 1997 quickly led to further commissions and the start of Ker Yacht Design.
Jason’s designs have had worldwide success, winning the hotly contested ‘big boat’ class at the UK IRC National Championships ten times, and consecutively for the last seven years.
A pivotal point in Jason’s career came with the design commission for a 55’ racing yacht named “Aera”. Its domination caused a stir, winning all seven of the inshore races of the 2003 Admirals Cup and the overall trophy for the 2004 Sydney to Hobart race.
Aged 33, Jason was recruited to set up and lead the design team for “Team Shosholoza”; the first South African America’s Cup Challenge, who were highly respected for their speed despite a relatively small budget. The key to Shosholoza’s remarkable speed was Jason’s ground-breaking approach relying on advanced computer simulation techniques.
"Everything is changing all time and what's cutting edge now will be antiquated before you know it!"
Continuous technological development has proved a hallmark of Jason’s career, not only during two further America’s Cups but also on his designs of racing yachts and successful projects in ship hull form optimisation.
Jason added: "My top tip for graduates today is to keep learning, and to stay on top of modern technologies - everything is changing all time and what's cutting edge now will be antiquated before you know it!"