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forlifewords: Caroline White

photography: Courtesy of Hoek Design/courtesy of Nauta yachts

Following in the Footsteps oF pioneer Jon BannenBerg, the 1980s generation oF talent set the standard For Bespoke superyacht design

A quarter of a century ago the superyacht industry exploded, igniting some of the brightest sparks in the industry. In the early to mid 1980s big yacht building grew and solidi ed into a serious, self- contained industry that required designers, and in 1986 Hoek Design, Nauta Yachts, Andrew Winch Designs (featured in the last issue of this magazine) and Bill Dixon Design, all entered the breach. The in uence of these leading design teams has – quite literally – shaped the modern superyacht, in all its variations.

‘What surprised me is in all those years since there have not been that many new design of ces,’ says Andre Hoek, founder of Hoek Design. ‘It’s not an easy market [in which]

to design and build a business like this; you have to be passionate about yachting, focused and a little lucky.’

Indeed, Hoek’s background describes a determination to work in yacht design, even when it was not an easy path. After a naval architecture degree in Holland and an apprenticeship at C&C yachts in Canada, Hoek was unable to nd work at a design studio. So he took a job as a salvage engineer at a Dutch company, where he supervised the enormous submersible ships that carry offshore drilling platforms. In its own way the job was excellent training for a superyacht designer, with an abundance of engineering, stability and organisational work.

‘During those years I was also always involved in yacht design, but not on a professional basis – I did it more as a hobby for clients who were friends and family. I was optimising a racing class of leeboard yachts that are popular in Holland, yachts I raced myself for a very long time. We optimised sailplans, stability, performance, foilshapes in leeboards and more, and later on designed new yachts in this style. Through the past 25 years more than 300 of these yachts were built to our designs.’

In 1983 he left his job to take an MBA in business administration, but his growing reputation as a designer interfered with his plans.

Andre Hoek (opposite) has been sailing Dutch leeboard boats since he was a small boy, experience that has helped him design quality sailing yachts such as Adele and her sister ship Marie (far left) and more recently motor designs such as the Hollander project (below)


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