AMSTERDAM – The annual 3-day Metstrade show here is the world’s largest exhibition of marine equipment, materials and systems. In fact, it’s the only truly international B2B exhibition for the marine leisure industry that has served as a platform for innovation, market developments and networking since its launch in 1988.

The 2019 edition (Nov. 19-21) very much continues in that vein. Two popular highlights are the DAME Design Awards and IBI-Metstrade Boat Builder Awards, a joint event of Metstrade and International Boat Industry, publisher of marine market intelligence from around the world.

Only 5 years old, the Boat Builder Awards have risen fast in significance. This year, 3 Dutch entries are among the 26 shortlisted builder awards nominees:

1- Performance sailing yachts maker Royal Huisman, its Rondal deckware unit and Swiss composites giant Gurit: for a load sensing composite rudder
2- Paul Dijkstra Composites: for pre-preg manufacturing at low cost and
3- Vaan Yachts: for making a Vaan R4 high-end sailing yacht using the circular economy approach.

“We considered nominations spanning some of the smallest boats that our industry produces, right up to large superyachts,” says IBI Editorial Director Ed Slack. “And from niche producers to volume manufacturers. You could see themes emerging that demonstrate the industry is responding to its current challenges, from finding new customers and responding to environmental protection, to exploiting new technology.”

Vaan R4 Catamaran

Vaan Yachts of the Netherlands, for instance.

The sailboat maker is appalled that of the 80,000 boats reaching their end-of-life annually in Europe, only around 2,000 are properly dismantled. The rest is incinerated or buried. Vaan Yachts struck partnerships with partners to make sure more than 50% of his R4 cat hull is constructed from recycled aluminum. Some parts of the cat even contain more than 75% reused materials.

True to tradition, the 2019 Metstrade opens with a bang: At the opening day breakfast, the DAME Design Award winners will be announced. The 9-member jury has shortlisted scores of products, all of which will be shown in the DAME Design Award exhibition at Amsterdam’s RAI events center.

The DAME Design Awards have, over the years, gone from strength to strength, says Jury Chair Birgit Schnaase who has 24 years of experience as an engineer and interior designer.

“The jury discussed just how influential design is,” she says. “It is critical that marine companies focus on design to ensure consumer expectations are met when they go boating. We also need smart design to address important issues like production efficiency, environmental impact improvement and greater integration. The DAME Awards have long recognized this and their role in identifying stand-out examples of good practice has never been more valuable.”

Schnaase added the mix of award entries demonstrates many marine companies pay close attention to form and function and produce “solutions that will improve the experiences of those getting afloat.”

Green themes run through the design competition and generate ever more use of environmentally friendly materials and a greater embrace of technology to make boating more accessible.