AMSTERDAM – Arnold de Ruyter remembers how, as a nine-year-old, he helped his stepfather build boats. He pitched in by doing some woodworking, painting, and passing tools around. “I was always drawing cars, houses, motorcycles and beautiful boats like a Super Van Craft or a Grand Banks,” De Ruyter tells this newsletter.
All that doodling was time well spent. Today, De Ruyter is one of the Netherlands’ most prolific designers whose work spans models from more than half a dozen boatyards. And he still likes to doodle. “I regularly draw just to develop an idea, to try something out, to see what works,” he says. “I can do 10 designs, and maybe one gets built. Welcome to the world of a yacht designer!”
De Ruyter has a massive and varied portfolio: from classic to modern back to retro. He is a mechanical engineer by training. But his heart was always in design. His first job was at an engineering firm that worked for Feadship, the Dutch custom superyacht builder.
“I drew all sorts of technical stuff. Construction plans. Engine room layouts.” An interior architecture course landed him a job at the design studio of Pieter Beeldsnijder that has completed 2,500 yacht and shipbuilding projects. From there, De Ruyter moved to Jongert Shipyard, maker of large, high-end sailing yachts.
In 1995 he went solo, founding A.R. Design. His first complete design was that of the Silverline 1500 Trawler for Privateer Yachts. “A fancy round bilge motor yacht with a flybridge and a transom hatch doubling as a swimming platform.”
Soon he was drawing an entire trawler line, from 15 to 20m. Next came a stream of commissions from Vivante Yachts, Rapsody Yachts and No Limit Ships. By now, A.R. Design is the house designer of Super Lauwersmeer’s steel motor yachts. Next year, it plans to launch a 16.5m flagship.
Rapsody Yachts is a Dutch builder of classically lined motor yachts, of which more than 350 have been sold. In 2013, De Ruyter drew the fast retro tender R38. “I also designed an 80, a 24m version.”
He loves the Volvo Penta’s IPS propulsion system, with its rotating pods and counter-rotating propellers. “I was already applying it in my designs in 2006, one year after the IPS was introduced,” he says. “It lets you place engines well aft under the cockpit floor, with a salon split-level in front.”
For Van den Hoven Jachtbouw, De Ruyter drew the Executive series, including a new 24m flagship. And since 2006, he has designed all Serious Yachts’ craft from 11 to 22.5m. A recent yacht from his board was the St-Barth-75 of St-Barth Yachting. In that case, the Volvo Penta’s IPS engines were placed a little further forward to make room under the swim platform for a tender garage. “Volvo Penta has longer propeller shafts to make that possible,” says De Ruyter.
De Ruyter says he always draws completely different boats,” yet still people say they recognize my work. I have a way of drawing lines that I like. And they reappear every time.”
He prefers to draw on paper, with pencils and markers. “I have a computer drawing program, but to be creative, it’s essential that I hand-draw designs,” says De Ruyter. He has a design for an 80m yacht but says “superyacht builders tend to work with the same established names, and it’s hard to break into that.”
He is now working on a classic 18m, a twin-prop motor yacht from 1938. It began as a restoration project but became an entirely new ship. “All that was left was a third of the original hull,” he says. “I designed a new deck layout, superstructure and interior. The engine room will also be completely new.”