Though the superyacht business is a relatively small industry, it is packed with international professionals from all walks of life, and it can certainly be easy to get lost in the sea of faces we're presented with at boat shows, yachting events and beyond. In this series of articles, we take a step back from rushed business meetings and hurried networking and sit down with professionals from across the wide spectrum of the superyacht business to learn more about who they are and what they do for the industry. In this week’s episode, we get to know Piet van der Weide, the man at the helm of Dutch brokerage firm, Hoek Brokerage.
Pieter van der Weide middle-left with the Hoek Brokerage team
Tell us about yourself and your journey to Hoek Brokerage.
After having learnt the boat building trade during the 70s as apprentices, together with my business partner we set up a small shipyard in the Netherlands in 1978 and continued later in the 80s in New Zealand. Upon my return to the Netherlands in the early 90s, I met Andre Hoek and his wife and project managed the build of the 30.48-metre Sapphire (now Sea Dragon) and the 22.8-metre Copihue, both at Claasen. After some interim management assignments, I headed a Notified Body in the Netherlands (CE recreational craft) and have been heading Hoek Brokerage since early 2008.
You emigrated to New Zealand in the early 80s to set up a yacht building company. Can you tell us more about this, and what your thoughts are on the yachting industry in New Zealand following the closure of a number of significant companies?
In those years we were young enough and without children we wanted to explore a bit more of the world, rather than reading about it in all kinds of publications. In the early 80s, we packed all our company tools and machinery and both our households in a container and left for the unknown in New Zealand. Here we soon found employment in Auckland in aluminium boat building and soon after started our own shipyard, building steel and aluminium motor and sailing yachts ranging from 60 to 120 ft.
During the late 80s the economy in New Zealand turned slow, so we returned to Europe. After some years, New Zealand’s economy improved significantly and did very well in yacht building. Companies like Alloy Yachts were yards of world class and it is tremendously sad to see that they and other fine yards have vanished or are in bad shape. That said, given the work attitude and ingenuity of the Kiwi’s, I am convinced that they will put themselves on the international yacht building map again soon.
In regards to the sailing yacht market, what are some of the key differences between a motor yacht client and a sailing yacht client?
Regardless of motor or sail, all clients differ as persons do, however they have one common interest and that is to be free and on the water. In general, the motor yacht owners prefer maximum space and quite often maximum speed whereas the sailing yacht owner likes the activity of sailing as such and being able to be taken to destinations by the wind alone. When I observe our clients, they like to do this in classic luxury and style.
In regards to sales such as the J Class Lionheart, are those kinds of classic sailing vessels suited to a very particular client?
The J-class client is by nature a competitive sailor, who appreciates the beauty and grace of these extremely elegant yet luxurious yachts and who enjoys being on board with a large team of sailing specialists during the regattas but also enjoy the yachts with their family and friends, served by a relatively smaller crew.
In your opinion, how can we boost the sailing yacht market?
More publicity about sailing events, from small (Optimist class) to large (J-Class) regattas and everything in between and around. The Spirit of Tradition regattas in the Med or in the Caribbean, in particular, are spectacular to watch. With all the possibilities the social media offer, it is happening already to some extent, however, more will be better.
The sailing yacht market is a challenging one, however, the classic sailing yacht market is a solid segment. Mainly because the classic yachts maintain their beautiful lines and don’t age and are therefore keeping their value better. We see a similar trend with motor yachts, like the 56-metre. Lombok project, now being built. Either way, classic sailing yachts or large superyachts, it is a privilege to be part of this exciting and special environment whereby patience is always rewarded by gratitude!