8 INSIDE AMELS
INTERVIEW WITH ROB LUIJENDIJK
“AMELS Full Custom is only natural” AMELS recently revealed the next phase in its growth – AMELS Full Custom. The Dutch luxury yacht builder will build one-off creations in the 80 to 110-metre segment, alongside the already successful AMELS Limited Editions range and AMELS Refit division. As Managing Director Rob Luijendijk makes clear, full custom yacht building is a natural step.
Can you explain why AMELS is taking this step into full custom? Well, in recent years there’s been a market shift towards larger yachts and I think in the top segment of that market we’re really talking about full custom. If you look at 80-metre plus yachts, they are complex constructions. There aren’t many yards that can build at that level and deliver the highest quality at the same time. At AMELS we’re proving our capability with the 83-metre project we’re building now. At the same time, the success of the Limited Editions concept that we introduced 10 years ago means we have a very strong basis for further growth. So it’s a very organic process that has lead to this next step for AMELS. Is this the right time to enter the full custom market? What we’ve seen is owners coming back to us and asking for larger yachts, and in particular, full custom yachts. That repeat client effect has been very strong and has grown naturally as the Limited Editions fleet has expanded. And particularly as the 83-metre AMELS 272 takes shape, the market has taken notice and we’ve had a number of enquiries for large projects. Owner representatives know that we’re very capable; we have a reputation for very professional and reliable project management. So the market approaching us with enquiries has definitely been an important factor in developing our AMELS Full Custom offer. I think the time is right. Will AMELS keep building Limited Editions yachts as well as full custom? Yes, we’re absolutely committed to our AMELS Limited Editions range and all the benefits our concept delivers for owners. The difference with our AMELS Full Custom offer is that in the 80 to 110-metre segment, we’re really talking about a quite small market for very high value, one-off creations. So I think the two offers have a slight crossover around the 80-metre mark, and from there it’s all AMELS Full Custom. Our clients can decide for themselves which offer best suits them. Is there currently enough capacity at AMELS for full custom projects? It’s true that we’re in the fortunate position of having quite a full order book. We have nine yachts under construction, which include projects from all five of the Limited Editions designs. But over the years since introducing the Limited Editions concept, our team has perfected our build process to a very high degree. So while we have a full yard, it’s very smooth production, very predictable and well-planned and that’s why we feel ready to grow with this step into full custom. It’s a controlled growth and we’re supported in that by our parent company DAMEN Shipyards. They are not only financially strong but also familyowned so they take a long-term view of the market. What facilities and expertise does AMELS have for large yacht building? In terms of facilities, we’ve just commissioned a modern climate-controlled 200-metre covered dry dock. Our yard is the largest superyacht facility in the Netherlands. We also have a very strong reputation for project management and our team of craftsmen and co-makers work at the very highest level. Our internal design department has vast experience working with the best designers in the world as well as classification societies and flag states. Plus
our engineering team is second-tonone and closely linked with our parent company DAMEN’s R&D programme. We work together on CFD calculations and tank testing. DAMEN is also our neighbour in Vlissingen with a very large naval shipbuilding yard. That’s where DAMEN completed its largest vessel ever last summer – a 204-metre Joint Support Ship for the Royal Netherlands Navy. We have access to those facilities and expertise in full SOLAS shipbuilding, so we’re in a very strong position when it comes to building large yachts. Can you detail AMELS’ experience in large yacht building? As I already mentioned, the first AMELS 272 – the 83-metre yacht at the top of the Limited Editions range – is rapidly becoming a reality. We’re well into the project and on track for scheduled delivery at the end of 2016. In terms of design and engineering capacity, as well as build capability, I think the AMELS 272 is an excellent example of the expertise we have for AMELS Full Custom. It also shows how we can collaborate very well with the most renowned designers, in this case Tim Heywood and Andrew Winch. And of course, if we go back one or two decades, you can still see AMELS’ heritage as a full custom yacht builder in iconic yachts that were among the largest yachts of their day – 78-metre MONTKAJ, 76-metre BOADICEA (now REBORN), 74-metre ILONA, 68.5-metre LADY ANNE (now LADY S), 64.5-metre MY SHANTI (now AQUARIUS), and 58-metre GU (now ASTRID CONROY). These full custom yachts are still very prominent references for AMELS Full Custom.