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Your World, Your Yacht

DATE POSTED:May 15, 2024
Lady Lene The 34-meter explorer yacht, Lady Lene basking in serenity Van der Valk Shipyard

Custom yachtbuilding is not for the faint of heart. It requires knowledge and expertise—not only on the part of the builder, but ideally on the part of the client as well.

Custom yachtbuilding also requires resources—both financial and in facilities and technology. And last but not least, a custom yachtbuild must have solid naval architecture, a well-planned layout, mechanical efficiency, and, oh yes, seaworthiness to ensure a return on investment if and when it enters the resale market.

Project EVO Project EVO is a bespoke yacht for the family, extended several meters during a design and consultation process that closely involved the clients every step of the way. Van der Valk Shipyard

It’s for these reasons that the world’s leading custom yachtbuilders concentrate, for the most part, on larger builds in the 50-plus-meter arena. Nestled in the southern region of The Netherlands, Van der Valk Shipyard is the anomaly to this theorem.

As one of the only shipyards in the world focused solely on building fully bespoke motoryachts between 25 and 45 meters (82 and 147 feet), Van der Valk not only has experience and expertise, but its builds are also backed by a pedigree defined by solid design and engineering, partner collaborations with the world’s leading designers, and state-of-the-art facilities. Yes, they are Dutch. But the 100-strong team at this family-founded shipyard is quick to point out that its prowess in yachtbuilding extends far beyond heritage.

Blue Jeans Van der Valk specializes in custom building yachts in the 25-45 meter range like Blue Jeans, a 34-meter raised pilothouse Van der Valk Shipyard About That Heritage

Van der Valk was the vision of Wim van der Valk, an avid yachtsman who founded the company in 1967. Over the course of 50 years, Van der Valk built a global fleet of more than 1,000 motoryachts in both steel and aluminum, its early rise to prominence coming from cabin cruisers in the 7- to 10-meter (23- to 32-foot) range. By the mid-1980s, the builder’s Vitesse series of semidisplacement steel and aluminum motoryachts set a benchmark for its strong resale value, which continued with the Continental I, a signature line that dominated the 1990s and early 2000s. In the 2010s, the firm broke into the superyacht sector thanks to collaborative projects with designer Guido de Groot, a partnership that set the tone for the future. Today, Wim van der Valk serves as President Emeritus of the board, advising the management team of Enrico Theuns, Bram Kooltjes and Yoeri Bijker, who leverage decades of combined experience in the high-end yachting industry.

Van der Valk team From left to right, Enrico Theuns, Bram Kooltjes and Yoeri Bijker. Van der Valk Shipyard Design and Innovation

Over the past two decades, Van der Valk’s design partnerships have included renowned firms such as Guido de Groot, Ginton Naval Architects, Diana Yacht Design, Carla Guilhem Design, Cor D. Rover and Van Oossanen, to name a few.

While a potential client is welcome to bring a complete vision or drawings to the table that might require a new hull design, most of Van der Valk’s all-aluminum builds are married to previously proven hulls from the builder’s diverse fleet, allowing the client and the preferred designer to focus on customization from the waterline up without reinventing the wheel.

With customization comes forward-thinking clients and pioneering innovations, and Van der Valk has embraced innovative concepts, which have led to award-winning, head-turning builds that have propelled the yachtbuilding industry forward.

In 2013, Van der Valk’s 37-meter (121-foot) Santa Maria T was the world’s first motoryacht to feature a two-axis fin antiroll damping system. The yard also developed hulls and models to specifically integrate the Volvo Penta IPS propulsion system when it was first introduced.

Lady Lene Lady Lene earned the Boat International Design and Innovations Award for Best Interior Design, among other awards. Van der Valk Shipyard

More recently, the 34-meter (111-foot) tri-deck explorer yacht Lady Lene was designed and built to be completely ADA-compliant and wheelchair accessible. Its overall design garnered a World Yacht Trophy, a Boat International Design and Innovations Award for Best Interior Design, and a World Superyacht Award Judges’ Commendation for “styling and performance quite unlike its rivals in this class.”

Delivered in October 2023, the 34-meter (111-foot) Blue Jeans was one of the most complex yachts the yard has engineered and built to date. This bespoke raised pilothouse features high ceilings throughout its interior (soaring to nearly 8 feet in the salon), a pioneering use of exterior glass for the windows and bulwarks, and a flush bow area with hidden windlasses opening up the space for guest use. Interior features such as liquid metal walls, exclusive use of reconstituted teak, copper accents, rare marbles, and remarkable lighting displays were the finishing touches that led to this marvel receiving its own World Superyacht Award.

Pilot Pilot, a 34-meter launch model blends robust and masculine proportions with an abundance of curves. Van der Valk Shipyard

Launched in 2023 and delivered this year, the 34-meter (111-foot) Pilot was the first Van der Valk built to American Bureau Shipping standards. Designer Cor D. Rover was brought in for his pioneering vision for high-volume designs by an experienced client who requested a length extension to the maximum-interior-space principle, coupled with a modern, contemporary aesthetic. The result is a three-deck yacht with a self-contained pilothouse, a main-deck master suite with a balcony (echoed for the VIP on the lower deck), a full lazarette for tender storage, and foldout transom wings that extend the swim platform. Van der Valk’s expertise punctuates multiple areas of this eye-catching build, from the automotive-inspired aluminum grills to the large windows, curved shapes, and masculine angles. It too has been nominated for a World Superyacht Award.

From Semicustom to Custom Series

Balking the trend followed by so many custom-turned-semicustom builders, Van der Valk has evolved over the years to focus exclusively on custom aluminum motoryachts fully finished and outfitted in-house in the niche 25-to-45-meter (82-to-147-foot) size range.

The high number of one-off builds over the years has enabled this niche offering and flexibility. Supported by the technical and engineering expertise of a 100-strong team of builders, craftsmen, specialists, painters, and joiners—a rare in-house array of services for a boutique shipyard—Van der Valk’s facilities have evolved to comprise seven state-of-the-art sheds spanning nearly 10,000 square feet and affording a build capacity of four up-to-45-meter (147-foot) yachts at any one time.

Project 111.11 Exterior designer Guido de Groot and interior designer Carla Guilhem join forces on Project 111.11. Van der Valk Shipyard

A recent yard expansion has been timely. With bays full and build slots booked into 2026, Van der Valk’s specialized focus is clearly being met with global demand. Custom builds currently underway include the 34-meter (111-foot) Project 111.11, a RINA-class four-deck, five-stateroom Guido de Groot design with a contemporary interior by Carla Guilhem that expands upon Lady Lene’s proven hull form with twin commercial Volvo Penta 750 hp continuous-duty engines. It is slated for delivery in the third quarter of 2024.

Project 111.11 is followed by Project Samba, a 35-meter (114-foot) tri-deck fast-displacement explorer also designed by Guido de Groot as an exceptional family residence on the sea. Inspired by the outdoors, Project Samba maximizes the yacht’s indoor/outdoor space with a large aft deck, a beach club, a transformer swim platform, and an indoor/outdoor bridge deck salon.

Project EVO Van der Valk continues to bring “Your World, Your Yacht” to fruition with Project EVO. Van der Valk Shipyard

Repeat clients have brought another new exciting design concept to the yard, and construction has begun on Project EVO, a 39.9-meter (130-foot) round bilged, fast-displacement hull design with a target 24-knot top speed. Project EVO represents the largest yacht that the yard has built to date. With naval architecture by Diana Yacht Design and Ginton Naval Architects, the all-aluminum yacht will feature exterior styling and a bespoke interior design by renowned Italian firm Cristiano Gatto Design.

While current clients claim many of Van der Valk’s build slots, new clients spanning the Americas to Europe to Asia are discovering the Dutch builder’s niche focus, youthful enthusiasm, and concierge-like global after-sales warranty and service. After all, when the message is “Your World, Your Yacht” and the size is within reach, why not?

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