Dilemma: a production boat or a one-off?
EDAM – It’s a question on many lips: do I buy a sailing or motor yacht that comes off a factory conveyor belt? Or a one-off, a yacht made to my own specifications and wishes? In its September edition, De Waterkampioen _ the Netherlands’ leading sail and motor yachting magazine _ puts the question to Ronald Jansma, importer of Bavaria and Dufour yachts, and Andre Hoek, an eminent Dutch designer who has worked on scores of one-off sailing and motor yachts:
“In serial construction, much time and attention goes to development. An extensive testing phase ends teething problems early. En route to a new model, many dealer and client wishes are taken into account. That translates into smart, practical solutions.
“Many yachts can be made thanks to experience with existing models, close cooperation with the best designers and efficient working methods. A big advantage of production boats: robots and other forms of automation cut construction time. Parts and materials can be bought in bulk. Which affects the price. A production boat is half the price of a comparable boat of which only 1 is made.
“Serial construction also allows for much customization. Each model comes in various versions and options. A good dealer can assist a buyer in his choice so it will be really his boat after all. Another advantage: you know what the value of your boat will be in a few years. That’s much harder to predict with a one-off, especially if it incorporates a (previous) owner’s odd wishes. True, you don’t take a production model to Antarctica, but enough people sail the world in one, without a problem.”
“9 out of 10 times, a one-off is qualitatively better than a serial-built yacht. To make a serious comparison you need to come up with a Swan-quality boat. Having a one-off means you’re in charge of quality and can optimize the boat according to your sailing area and special wishes. In production boats the price is key and that shows in the construction and finishing. By the way, the price of a Swan-80 matches that of an 80ft one-off from us.
“After several years, a boat’s value is determined by the extent of its aging, not by the fact that it’s a production or one-off boat. A timeless design will always outsell a model that was briefly fashionable. We design from the know-how of the latest developments in yacht building.
“We hardly encounter teething problems, or resolve these quickly. I see teething problems in some production boats that, years later, are still there. A production boat must meet the wishes of broad group of customers. By contrast, a one-off fits its owner like a glove. You get there by listening well to him or her. Sometimes you end up fulfilling odd wishes. Either way, the nice thing about a one-off is that it creates more diversity on the water. And who can object to that?”