The 60th HISWA Amsterdam Boat Show opened this year with a salute to steel and aluminium motoryachts

The 60th HISWA Amsterdam Boat Show opened this year with a salute to steel and aluminium motoryachts, a significant Dutch sector that is emerging from six years of economic standstill.

At the Amsterdam show, the Korvet-14 CLR, a year-round aluminium offshore craft, was named HISWA Motorboat of the Year. It beat three Dutch steel/aluminum entries – the Aquanaut Andante 438, the Steeler Panorama Flatfloor 46 and the Vedette Hollander Trend 32 – and the XO 270 RS Front Cabin, a Finnish fibreglass and aluminium cruiser.

The Netherlands has a long history of steel and aluminium yacht building, from small recreational tenders to consumer cruisers to superyachts. Steel may be heavier and costlier than polyester, but it enabled Dutch yards to take on such brands as Sunseeker, Fairline and Princess at a time when domestic clients stayed home.

“In 2015, finally we anticipate something like 4% growth in Dutch yacht building to 24m,” Michael Steenhof, yacht building and innovation manager at HISWA, the Dutch yachting sector trade organisation,” told IBI. “In recent years we have seen a shift in sales for builders of steel consumer yachts from domestic to foreign markets.”

That shift has been primarily to other European nations – notably Germany, Switzerland, France, Britain and Russia, says Steenhof. He discounts the graying of the Dutch market as a reason, “as Germany, for instance, suffers from a market that is graying far worse than here in the Netherlands.” Rather, Steenhof credits the emergence of Dutch yards – including dozens of small, family-owned businesses – from six years of sclerotic growth to innovation and product renewal. “It is a theme we have been hitting hard at HISWA,” says Steenhof.

The Amsterdam Boat Show reveals the extent of that innovation. The Korvet-14 CLR, the winning motoryacht, is an unorthodox craft by designer Willem Nieland. It is a yacht for year-round offshore cruising. “It is a like a Swiss Army. You can use it for anything,” he says. The 14m boat has an unpainted aluminium hull and a wheelhouse that overhangs the saloon.

“The steel and aluminium yacht sector in the Netherlands has taken some hard knocks in recent years of recession,” says Hans Webbink of Steeler Yachts. His one-level Panorama-46FF was named European Motor Yacht of 2015 at Boot Düsseldorf. “Making yachts of either steel or aluminium opens up great possibilities for us to customise a yacht, to make it a truly unique, high-value concept. It lets us compete head-on with foreign polyester brands.”