Discovery Channel Probes Dutch Super-yachts
VLISSINGEN _ They stretched to 70m in the mid-1990s. Today they can be almost 200m long and emerge from shipyards at a healthy clip. This summer, Discovery Channel airs a 6-part series on the astounding growth of super-yachts by showcasing the work and ingenuity of 5 Dutch shipyards.
Discovery spent a year filming at Vitters Shipyard, Vripack, Hakvoort Shipyard, ICON Yachts and Balk Shipyard. The show’s trailer promises a look at the “most glamorous industry on earth.” It hails the Dutch luxury yachting industry as a consistent leader in innovation, technology and design. “A century of ship building, traditional values of craftsmanship, the latest technologies and the finest equipment are all ingredients for a spectacular and exclusive series about the industry and its pursuit of perfection,” says the voice-over.
The 6 episodes will showcase top Dutch ship builders, engineers, designers and naval architects. “We feel very honored the Discovery Channel will be broadcasting a series of documentaries about how we try to exceed everyone’s expectations with regard to designing and building yachts”, says Farouk Nefzi of HISWA Holland Yachting Group which represents premium yacht builders within the HISWA yachting lobby.
The super-yacht industry looks back on years of 10% growth rates. While commercial shipbuilding worldwide faces a 20% drop-off in business this year, super-yacht makers will hold their own, says Kommer Damen (photo below), chairman of Damen Shipyards Group (2012 turnover: €1,7 billion). His company makes a variety of cargo and other vessels and its Amels subsidiary is the Netherlands’ largest super-yacht builder.
In an interview in the June issue of the Inside Amels Newsletter, Damen says of the super-yacht market: “I think in general there’s also a little bit less demand … But Amels is increasing its business. Most of the Dutch shipyards are also doing well in my view. So I think in general it is not growing, but stable.”
Why buy a super-yacht in the Netherlands? Aren’t they cheaper in Asia? They are but the Netherlands, says Damen, has a reputation for quality that must not be squandered. Damen:
“I had a discussion about this subject with the CEO of Gucci at the Davos World Economic Forum. He said all Gucci clients expect his products to be made in Italy. It’s not worth risking their trust by making leather goods in other countries. He was very clear that Gucci should always be ‘Made in Italy.’ He was very straightforward about that, very bullish. For the same reasons, I think we should not deviate from building in the Netherlands because our clients associate the quality we deliver with the high level of finishing for which we have become well known in the Netherlands.
“I think clients in our industry associate the Netherlands and Germany with the highest quality. We should not put that reputation at risk.”