Puffin: An odd bird no more
ENKHUIZEN – In boat design there are trend setters, trend followers and Olivier van Meer. The Puffins leaving his design studio have been special from the day the first one hatched in 1994. “By now we have built 70 or so,” says Van Meer. They stand out from the crowd for a Puffin is no showboat, but a serious craft. Look at that angular, raised cabin, that lifting centerboard and roomy interior. No flush decks. No faddish open transoms. Hmm. How wonderful!
Born on a 22m schooner (and having clocked 110,000 sea miles since then), Van Meer says he designed the Puffin based on his own “experience of seaworthiness and comfort at sea.” The Puffin is inspired by vessels Van Meer encountered on waters in Britain, Ireland, Scotland, Scandinavia and the US state of Maine. That’s why Puffins ooze common sense, simplicity and seaworthiness. Van Meer calls it “a thoroughbred cutter,” one that puts a premium on comfort. “After a rough trip you can still enjoy a hot shower, even on the smallest Puffin.”
His clients come from across Europe and beyond. “They are very brand-loyal,” says Van Meer. “They deliberately choose for a Puffin. All have roomy interiors. That raised cabin, by the way, means you can look out and see more than a thin slice of sky.”He has 3 Puffin-42s under construction. Van Meer: “We always have 2 or 3 boats under construction. Each Puffin is custom-made in about 9 to 10 months.”
After almost 20 years, Puffins come in no fewer than 10 lengths _ from 27 to 65ft. The latest is the Puffin-30. She is neither a racer nor a slowpoke. The yard says in 14 knots of wind, she does 8.9 knots of speed. The Puffin-30 comes at a competitive sail-away price of €129.000, + VAT.
The first Puffins were deep S-bilge long keelers, but Van Meer switched to a lifting centerboard because of shallow sailing areas in the Netherlands. “And because the most beautiful places in the world are often upstream from shallow waters.” He took another important cue from the Netherlands, a nation of tall people. “People are getting taller. My first clients were over 6ft tall. I made sure the Puffin had significant headroom virtually everywhere.”
Puffins come in composite, aluminum or steel hulls. Backing up the family of Puffins, is Van Meer’s extensive design work in areas other than cabin cruisers. His office has had a hand in the building, converting and refitting of more than 600 yacht projects since 1985 _ private and commercial yachts. “In the majority of our projects, we are responsible for the overall design, naval architecture and engineering,” says Van Meer.
“But we also provide owners and yards with separate design, naval architecture, engineering, consultancy and project management services. We also work in cooperation with other specialists, in which case we concentrate on a specific part of the project only.”