Vitters CEO: exclusive interview
SuperyachtNews gets exclusive insight into what it takes to be successful in the sailing yacht market…
Without question, the sailing yacht sector serves the most passionate and involved superyacht owners in the industry. While its output is noticeably slower than the motoryacht market, it should always be noted that the sailing yacht market is an entirely different beast to its diesel-powered counterpart, and should be considered as such.
Assessed in its own right, it’s clear that the handful of shipyards that reside within the ‘core contingent’ of sailing yacht builders have established some level of stability. Yet, like the rest of the superyacht market, it’s essential that the sailing yacht market is focused on enticing ‘new blood’. Dutch sailing yacht builder, Vitters is doing just that, having announced a series of interesting developments, that move with the times and offer an all-encompassing superyacht service.
“There is a need to encourage ‘new blood’ to the sailing yacht market and I think the best way to do that is to introduce people to what the sailing yacht market is all about,” says Louis Hamming, CEO of Vitters to SuperyachtNews during the HISWA Holland Yachting Group press tour. “That is why the regattas and the events are very successful, because you usually also get a group of people that have nothing to do with sailing who come and visit, really get the feel of it and get influenced as well.”
“There is a need to encourage ‘new blood’ to the sailing yacht market and I think the best way to do that is to introduce people to what the sailing yacht market is all about."
- Louis Hamming, CEO of Vitters
As Hamming explains, there is a real sense of community in the sailing yacht market. During the host of regattas held throughout the year, sailing yacht owners come together to race and share their passion for the discipline.
“It helps, of course, if you are familiar with it, but it is also part of a lifestyle,” continues Hamming. “A lot of our older owners fly over to the boat for the weekend, sail and then return home. They are very much dedicated to the use of the boat and they devote their time to it.”
We do live in a fast-paced world, which is packed full of things that could distract someone wishing to spend some time on a sailing yacht, but as Hamming explains, a real draw is the passion and fraternity within that community, which is a real draw, once you’ve had a glimpse of that lifestyle.
There is however, quite an interesting opportunity arising for the sailing yacht market; owners are becoming more concerned about sustainability and environmental issues, which makes the sailing yacht market en vogue. In The Superyacht Captains Report, we published The Captains’ Sentiment Report, which showed that, according to our sample of masters, 50 per cent of guests are concerned about the green agenda on board, showing just how important sustainability in the superyacht market really is.
“I think the green initiative will draw more people towards sailing yachts”, says Hamming. We are trying to reduce our footprint in every way. For example, the drinking water we have here is the best in the world as it comes from 120 metres deep and goes through layers of peat that filters it. So why would we buy in our own water in plastic bottles?”
Vitters take steps such as avoid plastic cups and do all kinds of things to reduce their plastic, energy consumption and unnecessary waste.
"We are moving towards an exciting reduction in energy use. And it’s not only to be greener, it’s about becoming more efficient and building better boats, as well as being able to save the environment in ways that it should be saved.”
- Louis Hamming, CEO of Vitters
“We are moving towards an exciting reduction in energy use”, Hamming continues. “And it’s not only to be greener, it’s about becoming more efficient and building better boats, as well as being able to save the environment in ways that it should be saved.”
In the sailing yacht market, it is important to offer a relatively diverse set of services, and this is something that Vitters also focuses on. Having acquired Claasen shipyard in 2016, the size spectrum for the two shipyards is extensive, with Claasen focusing on smaller yachts and Vitters at the larger end. But now Vitters has also delivered a superyacht chase boat, which was launched in April and proved very successful.
“We would build more of those”, says Hamming. Following its launch, we have already had a few customers expressing an interest in that. It’s a chase boat. At Claasen we build the smaller sailing yachts and over there, there is a market for it, but there are very few custom sailing boat builders left...”
“We have always done refits, but a lot less than we do now. There is more and more demand for refit and survey work etcetera. so, that is why we do it - we want to be able to service the market."
- Louis Hamming, CEO of Vitters
Further still, Vitters has just announced that it now has an official presence in Palma, with the official opening of its refit service proposition in STP. “We have always done refits, but a lot less than we do now,” explains Hamming. “There is more and more demand for refit and survey work etcetera. so, that is why we do it - we want to be able to service the market. We are going to start a project there at the end of May and we have worked there already for a number of years, but we have never had a presence. So, now we have full time presence over there.”
While Vitters has its original values at its heart, through the construction of classic custom sailing yachts, the Dutch shipyard is certainly moving with the times in order to remain active and competitive. Now offering a pretty diverse set of services, the shipyard is ensuring that it is keeping up with the times with some extremely high-tech solutions as well, such as its deploying propulsion system, which is under development, as well as the shipyard’s refit proposition, and commitment to sustainability and efficiency.
Slider image: Georgia Boscawen
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