Spirit Yachts | The Team | The Spirit Yachts team

New Spirit Ownership


©Spirit Yachts-Spirit 72dh-wooden bespoke classic yacht

Founded in 1993, Spirit Yachts enters its 30th year with new owners and a strengthened management team

This month, leading yacht design and build company Spirit Yachts has announced a new management and ownership structure. In the company’s 30th year, its original founder Sean McMillan has taken a step back from his CEO role to become a consultant designer and brand ambassador. As part of this transition, Spirit Yachts is now majority-owned by a passionate group of Spirit yacht owners, who have committed significant capital to strengthen future business growth.

The company continues to be run by its dedicated existing Managing Director Karen Underwood, who is supported by strong design, production, and sales teams. Karen will be assisted by a newly appointed Production & Design Director and Spirit Yachts’ Marketing Director, Helen Porter, who has raised the profile of the company for the past eight years.

Sean McMillan will continue to be closely involved in the design of Spirit’s custom yachts working alongside Spirit’s award-winning designer Tom Smith, and the company’s in-house team of designers and naval architects,

Karen Underwood, Spirit Yachts’ Managing Director, commented, “Since Spirit Yachts was founded 30 years ago, Sean has instilled his creativity and vision into the DNA of the business. From humble beginnings in the Suffolk countryside to multiple award wins, yachts in two Bond films, and over 80 bespoke yachts located worldwide, Spirit Yachts is a unique success story that continues to push the boundaries.”

Karen continued, “Today, the challenges are greater with supply chain hurdles, staff shortages, and the need to remain agile in the face of global events, but our commitment to quality, beauty, and lowering the carbon footprint of our yachts remains at the heart of Spirit Yachts. With a full yard, a strong sales pipeline, and secure investment, the team and I are well-equipped to deliver a prosperous future.”


In 1993, Suffolk-based Spirit Yachts was founded by Sean McMillan and Mick Newman, who set out to offer yacht owners a beautiful, unique, and sustainably sourced alternative to fibreglass production boats. This goal remains at the core of the company’s ethos today.