Vitters is known for some of the most iconic yachts on the superyacht racing circuit today. The company strives to realise each of their owner’s wishes by producing innovative and industry-changing solutions with often the simplest methods possible. Managing Director Louis Hamming is at the forefront of this force and talks to SuperYacht Times’ Charl van Rooy about the company’s passion for sailing, its history and what is yet to come for this humble Dutch shipyard.
Started by Jan Vitters and Louis Hamming in 1990, the shipyard drew on their experience working in aluminium to construct high quality sailing yachts. Over the years the company not only grew in size, but the yachts also became larger, and soon composite materials were identified as a way for the company to take the lead in superyacht construction. Today the Vitters fleet might range from all shapes and sizes, but one thing remains consistent throughout; the shipyard’s constant pursuit for ground breaking innovations to push their yachts further than ever before.
Can you tell us about the history of the company and how it started for you at Vitters?
The company itself started 25 years ago, in a shed not far from our current location, working on the construction of aluminium boats.Eight months later, I joined up with Jan Vitters to shift the focus to building completed yachts, and not only the construction of hulls and superstructures. Jan already had a number of years’ experience in the finishing of boats, and this gave us the confidence to approach the new venture together.
What are your views on the current sailing market? Do you see clients focusing on a specific size range?
The sailing market is not as strong as it was in the past. I feel this is quite simply a lack of people wanting to go sailing. I foresee an increase in the market if we can pursue more people to get out on the water and sailing again. As for the size, we see a lot of projects between 30 and 37 metres, or 100 and 120 feet, and another part of the market focusing on 60 to 65 metres and above.
Do you feel designers play a big role in the development of the market and perhaps creating a revived interest across the entire sailing yacht spectrum?
What we see is very few new sailing yacht designers emerging onto the scene. Most of the current designers are older and have been designing for a very long time. This could be contributed to the small size of the market; a market where it is very difficult to create a name for oneself as a new designer.
The design of a sail boat is very different to that of a motor yacht; where the naval architecture and sailing platform forms acrucialpart of the design process. In that way sailing clients not only take in account what the yacht looks like when they consider which designer to go for, but also performance, handling and stability as well. All these aspects make sailing yacht designs much more technical, which might be why we see much less new designers on the scene.
What does the construction of the new J-Class J11 Svea mean to Vitters?
The J-Class is a very nice project for us to work on. It is a very unique line of yachts with a rich history, and being able to contribute to such a heritage is quite special for us.
How important is the regatta scene to Vitters?
We see regattas as great platform to get the Vitters family together and to see our boats perform the way they were designed to. We actively promote regattas within our fleet, as there is a regatta on the racing circuit suited to each of our different style of yachts.
What does the future hold for Vitters?
We hope to be developing as we have been over the past 25 years by building good quality yachts. We have been fortunate to have innovative owners looking to push the boundaries in the industry, and we will work to remain one of the most influential sailing yacht builders in the industry in the future.