ENKHUIZEN — Alexander Simonis (1959) and Maarten Voogd (1966) have moved their design studio to the Netherlands, ending 30 years of a unique, dual existence. Simonis Voogd Design had one office in Enkhuizen, north of Amsterdam and led by Voogd, and one in Cape Town, South Africa. Now, Simonis is back in the Netherlands.
Having two offices sounds worse than it is. Thanks to modern ICT, remote working and client sessions are no longer exotic. Simonis also cites family reasons and an uncertain political situation in South Africa for leaving Cape Town.
Simonis/Voogd Design has three decades of experience and completed over 200 projects: from the humble Hobie 13 (1983) to mega maxi’s. Their collaboration goes back to the early 1990s. Voogd interned at Simonis in Cape Town. And when the latter won an order for a 70ft racing yacht, Broomstick, he asked Voogd for help. Broomstick won the Cape Town-Rio race in a record “15 days, 3 hours and 10 minutes,” says Voogd.
More successes followed. The 90ft Nicorette won the 2004 Sydney-Hobart race. And when in 2000, the South African yard Robertson & Caine won a Moorings order for touring catamarans, the yard had Simonis monitor the production floor. In the past eight years, the yard has been building a line of Simonis/Voogd-designed motor cats. The latest design in that series is a 46ft power cat.
Another major South African customer is multi-hull builder Kinetic, maker of fast, high-end luxury catamarans. Its latest: a carbon, 16.5m Kinetic-54. A racing version comes with larger sails.
For Far East Boats in Shanghai, the Simonis/Voogd studio designed open cockpit and cabin sailboats and a line of lightweight dinghies in large numbers. For instance, some 600 Far East28s have been built.
On the drawing board right now: a 41ft motor catamaran, built in composite. “Its design is entirely attuned to its use,” says Voogd. “The Chinese go for day recreation, with as many as 12 people on board. The 12.5m multi-hull has a front cockpit, can also be rigged and comes with either a diesel or electric engine.
Voogd praises his collaboration with yard director Lu Wei Feng and says Dutch yacht builders can learn from China. “Working with Far East has taught me much about efficiency. The Chinese work efficiently and precisely and deliver high quality. Everything is prepared in detail, everything is CNC-milled, and they make molds out of aluminum.,” says Voogd.
“It’s about culture and mentality. If Dutch yacht builders adopt Chinese efficiency, high labor costs would not be an issue. If they would collaborate more and hire one composite company that makes top quality hulls, they can focus on their product’s added value. That added value lies in the finishing and styling; that’s where Dutch yards excel.”