A tour of Dutch yacht building facilities is turning up some pretty amazing projects


Here’s Athos, one of the highlights of a tour of Dutch yachtbuilders we’re currently undertaking. Yesterday morning we dropped into Holland Jachbouw in Zaandam near Amsterdam where managing director Paul Dielemans explained that they will take delivery of the Andre Hoek-designed yacht later this year from sub-contracted hull fabricators near Rotterdam and plan to have the finished yacht in the water in 2009. At 62m (that’s a little over 203ft) loa including the bowsprit she will be the largest privately owned modern schooner afloat when she eventually goes down the ways.
Holland Jachtbouw are building a brand new assembly and finishing hall for Athos which should be operational by September, but even Dielemans is wondering whether it’s going to be big enough to cope with the with the continuing demands of the big yacht industry. Beautiful teak hatches, skylights and companionways are already being built in a re-vamped wood working section at HJ in preparation for installation later this year.
Dielemans is also trying to introduce what’s known as WCM manufacturing methodology at the yard. That stands for World Class Manufacturing and it’s a system evolved by Toyota principally for mass production. But Dielemans who was briefed by the Blom Consultancy with the idea, believes elements can be used in yacht building even though ‘it’s at the other end of the production spectrum’ . Custom yachting building might bear little resemblance to a car line but one feature is empowering the workforce from top to bottom so that they take responsibility for decision making and can have the freedom to evolve their own jobs. Sounds interesting.
Athos has similar looks to the Hoek-design ketch Adele but this yacht, for a repeat customer, is much beamier, has twin engines, a massive centreboard – there will be 90 tons of lead ballast set internally in the aluminium hull – and her main and foresail will be handled by in-boom furling systems. Much of the accommodation is on two decks such is the size of the hull.
We also dropped in on Contest Yachts yesterday. Their plant was burned to the ground five years ago but they have risen phoenix-like to re-develop their range with a George Nissen designed 60 due out this winter and a 40-footer by the same designer in the wings with, unusually for Contest, an aft cockpit. More details on both these projects in the August issue of Yachting World.