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Interview with superyacht owner Sietse Koopmans at the GSF

Ownership

At the end of last year I was invited by The Superyacht Group to attend the Global Superyacht Forum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. One of the most interesting sessions was the Armchair Interview, where Martin Redmayne, Chairman of The Superyacht Group, spoke with Bart Bouwhuis of Vripack and superyacht owner Sietse Koopmans. Mr Koopmans spoke about his current explorer motor yacht Zeepaard and a new 50 metre superyacht project he is developing with Vripack.

Mr Koopmans is currently on a world tour on-board motor yacht Zeepaard and was happy to interrupt his tour for a couple of days to tell his story.

Dutch superyacht owner has been spending lots of free time on the water, as his father commissioned Vripack to build a boat back in the early 80’s. Mr Koopman explains; “I was basically the one using it. When the time came to do the circumnavigation, I was looking for a boat. I found a beautiful Vripack boat and that’s the one I chose. At the moment, during this trip, I developed the idea of building another one, a new one. And again with Vripack.”

Speaking about his new 50 metre superyacht project, he tells the audience it will be completely different than most other yachts out there. Bart Bouwhuis of Vripack comments, “The whole development has quite a fresh approach. It took a new pair of glasses for our guys, as Mr Koopmans was keen to really do it differently. This fresh approach, that’s exactly what the market needs. We all have seen that our market is quite good in building too complex boats.”

The motor yacht will be built at a tight budget, however without sacrificing the quality. Mr Koopman stresses that nothing is going to be of inferior quality, however for example the yacht won’t have golden door handles or other things which are overly expensive.

Everything on-board the diesel-electric superyacht is focussed on energy consumption; is there a more efficient air conditioning system, air handling system and of course lighting, but also things like the washing machine, which will use the warm water from the generator.

To reduce the costs, the interior of the new yacht will be fabricated entirely in Turkey.

One of the biggest changes is the use of a very small generator and batteries. As the owner travels a lot the yacht only spends around 5% of the time on shore power, and they have often experienced problems with shore power, explains Mr Koopmans. Therefore the new yacht will be on a generator all the time; a generator of 20 kilowatt which is quiet, you don’t smell and which can run 24/7.

Martin Redmayne jumps into the conversation and ask how they are going to achieve that?

We are making use of batteries. Modern batteries are spectacularly efficient. Like the batteries you have in your phone, but really big. We’ll use batteries for high power consumption, like cooking. The generator is on constant load, ideal for the engine, so it doesn’t smoke, and it’s a perfect temperature, which is a big achievement".

The new 50 metre superyacht for Mr Koopmans is designed by Cor D Rover, in an unsual design process, as Mr Koopmans explains, “A lot of designers, they have to design. They sit in the office and they don’t have the time to go and sit on a boat. Or they don’t have a boat. Cor D Rover has spent a week on my boat when we were in the process of designing the new boat. He highly appreciated the time because there were so many things he suddenly understood and saw in a different angle, when you actually experience it”.

The new yacht will not look the current yacht Zeepaard. The current yacht could be described as a wheelhouse aft configuration, whilst the new yacht will be a forward configuration with a big aft deck, clean opens spaces and lots of windows. There will be many toys onboard the yacht and in the back will be a garage for a submarine.

Commenting on the design Mr Koopmans says, “A lot of glass all around. Because your boat, in the end of the day, is your penthouse on the water. You want to enjoy the view. That’s probably the best selling feature on the boat, you have your real estate you can move around. Whereas if you have some real estate on the coast, you look at the sea. But if you’re on the boat you can look at the coast, which is nice".

The owner intends to operate the 50 metre vessel with a crew of just six. How to achieve this? Mr. Koopmans, explains “You make the interior efficient, and you make the exterior efficient. We wash my boat now every other day, because it is a commercial looking sturdy boat. We have all these ribs on the inside of the bulwarks and you have the scuppers, which are extremely labour intensive to clean".

"On the new boat we will be using Nano Glass, which is like when you put rainex on glass and therefore you don't need to wash it like normal glass. Its self-cleaning glass. In addition we will wash the boat with warm water. We are working on a new type of water maker, which works with heat. If we can do that we will have demineralised water, which will save an enormous amount in squeegee to take the water off after you cleaned the boat. You just spray off the boat and it all falls off. No need to do anything. It all results in the need for less people".

The construction of the new yacht is scheduled to start in the Spring of this year and the building time should be just one year, although Mr Koopmans is convinced they can also build the yacht in seven months, however he prefers to do it perfect than quickly.

By Merijn de Waard, photo of M/Y Zeepaard by Maarten Janssen

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