In 2013, Feadship will celebrate the 100th anniversary of De Voogt Naval Architects, which has played a fundamental role in the long, successful story of the Feadship brand since 1949.
On the occasion of the 2012 Yacht Valley Press Tour organized by HISWA, the Dutch yachting industry association, we had the opportunity to visit De Voogt Naval Architects, a firm whose history is closely bound to that of superyacht builder Feadship.
The De Voogt offices are located in Haarlem, the charming and historic capital of Northern Holland in the Netherlands. There, in a three-story modern and fairly nondescript office building, all Feadship yachts begin their life. Each yacht project—no matter how different from the next or which Feadship yard builds it—follows the same path and procedures. Behind each and every Feadship yacht is the highly skilled team of designers, naval architects and engineers of De Voogt Naval Architects, today comprising 180 people. They interact daily with the more than 1,000 employees working for Feadship’s various shipyards.
However, the De Voogt name predates Feadship. Henri Willem De Voogt, an enterprising naval architect born in 1892, set out to build a shipyard on the banks of Haarlem’s Spaarne River when he was 20 years old. A year later, in 1913, he launched his first vessel. A great many fast sailing and cruising yachts left the De Voogt slipways until World War I forced De Voogt to change tack. In 1922, the architect created a more generalist firm to cater to a different world. The H.W. de Voogt Technical Bureau for Shipbuilding handled design for all types of vessels and soon began to cater to clients in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Germany. In the 1930s De Voogt and his company started working with an increasing number of Dutch boatbuilders, and he established especially good relationships with the Van Lent and De Vries shipyards. In 1949, the De Vries and Van Lent shipyards joined forces, in part to conquer the American market, and formed the First Export Association of Dutch Shipbuilders, whose acronym is known worldwide as FEADSHIP. From this point on, the De Voogt story becomes inextricably entwined with that of Feadship.
While other exterior designers have played a role in Feadship’s history, the De Voogt designers have made an indelible mark on the brand. For instance, the characteristic flared bow that lends the 200-plus yachts in the Feadship custom fleet their family look came off De Voogt’s drawing boards. In addition, regardless of who the exterior designer may be, De Voogt is responsible for the naval architecture and engineering work of all Feadship yachts.
In-house disciplines include construction and mechanical engineering, and exterior and interior design. The Feadship De Voogt staff is organized into six departments that closely cooperate with one another: Design, Naval Architecture, Knowledge Development, Construction, Mechanical Engineering and Interiors. Producing an average of 100 technical drawings per week, the office is able to deliver four complete yacht projects per year. A dedicated department provides consultancy, design and engineering support for all Feadship conversions and refits.
It was interesting to have a look into the inner workings of the naval architecture department, which uses a spiral-like procedure that leads, step by step, to the most detailed parts of the project. Design brief, main dimensions, weight, hull coefficients, powering, lines, accommodations, tank arrangements, loading conditions, stability, structural arrangements, noise and vibration calculation—each step represents a crucial addition in the project’s development.
Of the various specialties, the Knowledge Development department has a pivotal role. Aside from collecting all information trickling in from each team as work progresses, it follows each design process closely. This department also works on the new concepts that Feadship introduces each year, usually at the Monaco Yacht Show. These edgy projects (Aeon, Breathe, C-Stream, X-stream and Qi, to name just a few), aside from stirring the imagination, make a significant and real contribution toward new designs and technologies. The latest concept Feadship unveiled in Monaco is called Relativity. De Voogt and Feadship looked for a real potential owner for this concept and zeroed in on Albert Einstein. What would he have wanted out of his yacht? Not a totally absurd question to ask, since Einstein was a sailor. Wealthy friends bequeathed him a modest sailboat, by today’s standards, on his 50th birthday; the vessel cost 15,000 marks in 1929. The Relativity concept is far more ambitious in scope and size, which would likely be the case had Einstein been alive today and weighed in on his dream vessel. Nuclear power may not have been out of the question for this 90-meter yacht (you could use Thorium to fuel three gas turbines). An innovative but more conventional propulsion package, combining a single centerline engine and booster jets would yield a top speed of around 18 knots, 28 knots using the boosters. The concept, which derived its lines from its functional requirements, was conceived as a private space for family and fellow scientists. Quite open, filled with light and a large auditorium for scientific plenary sessions, the yacht owes graceful lines, in part, to her narrow beam.
Perhaps the single most interesting idea is a pop-up wheelhouse, housed on the foredeck, allowing the upper deck (dubbed the family deck) to be a truly private space. The yacht’s mast structure in carbon finishes off very well the very pleasing lines. Hardware, tenders and all other functional attributes are carefully concealed. So when you look out of the large windows, you get the same feel as looking at an infinity pool blending with the ocean environment. For family fun, a slide integrated in to the superstructure, would provide hours of fun. In recent times, Feadship has focused on the eco-conscious yacht as the red thread of all future concepts.
As we approach 2013, we all give a nod to the contribution that De Voogt Naval Architects has given to the modern megayacht community over the last century.
For more information, visit feadship.nl