The Amels facility at Vlissingen

By Robert Wielaard

Amels, the yacht-building member of the Netherlands’ Damen Shipyards Group, has high marketing hopes for its Sea Axe Fast Yacht Support vessel.

“We foresee a strong market as more and bigger boats come onto the market,” says Rob Luijendijk, Amels’ managing director. “We are very happy with the design and the quality” of the supply vessel that is made by Damen.

Amels has sold two Sea Axe Fast Yacht Support vessels in recent years for the yachting sector. A third is due for delivery in 2016.

“A workhorse with a distinctive axe bow has made its mark,” said Luijendijk from Amels’ headquarters in Vlissingen. In the commercial sector, the Damen-built support vessel is used to ferry crew and supplies to offshore installations. But the superyacht version has an aesthetic design. Finished to superyacht standards, it is used to carry water toys, a helicopter and crew to and from yachts.

It is a formula that is getting good reaction from the market because it keeps superyachts uncluttered, says Luijendijk.

Superyacht owners have until now ignored traditional support craft because they tend to be ugly and dirty, he adds. Amels’ Sea Axe Fast Yacht Support vessel is not only ‘eye candy’; it can carry large and valuable items safely and in all weather conditions.

Amels markets the yacht support craft in lengths of up to 90m.

“I hope we are setting a trend here with our support vessels and the axe bow,” says Luijendijk. “Yachts are getting bigger.”

Amels is currently working on seven new-build yacht projects and is contemplating a major increase in dock capacity. The yard has sold 28 custom-built superyachts since 1982. But since 2007, it has sold already 20 Limited Editions – yachts from 37m-83m with highly modular layouts that slash construction time.

The Limited Edition’s popularity has made the range Amels’ core business. The yard says it may extend the range at either end. Lujiendijk said he will consider requests for custom-built yachts “on a case by case basis but we are really not in the custom-built business.”

While the Amels executive is bullish on the future, he cautions that the significance of the rise of very wealthy Chinese is easily overstated. “We see other markets opening up,” he says. “In Eastern Europe, for instance. China will take more time [to mature as a market]. It’s another culture. It’s about getting to know yachting and that’ll take time. We’ll be patient.”

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