ZALTBOMMEL _ In the Netherlands, they are an undying breed. Small craft enthusiasts who make spectacular, modern classic gems. People like Joop Doomernik (left) who crafts the stately, 8.9m (29.2 ft) Dragon daysailer.
And the amazing 37ft. (11.3m) Wally Nano Mk II. The latter is a new addition, from the drawing boards of Hoek Design, the Dutch studio that draws classic sailboats of up to 262 feet (90m).
Doomernik began building boats in 1990. Three years later he took part in the Dragon Gold Cup, a very pivotal event, as it turned out. Half a dozen Dragons were driven to his yard afterwards, for repairs.
The Dragon (right) is a one-design keelboat drawn in 1929 by Norway’s Johan Anker. An Olympic class from 1948 to 1972, it was initially an all-wood affair. Since 1973, it is made of polyester or has a polyester hull and a wooden deck. You’ll spot Dragons in 26 countries on 5 continents.
“A wooden deck gives the boat an exclusive look,” says Doomernik. “It’s a boat for ‘yachtsmen’ who are also fanatical regatta racers.” Doomernik Dragons are practical and comfortable. One outstanding feature is that elegant, hard sprayhood. Doomernik can give his Dragons a foredeck spinnaker chute for single-handed spinnakering. A low or high cockpit floor. Or a walk-around mainsheet island making the whole cockpit accessible to the helmsman.
His Dragons spend 4 weeks in a mold as the hull is built, layer by layer. He uses vinylester as class rules ban epoxy. When the hull is finished, the cast iron keel is dropped into it. Interest in Dragons fluctuates. “We usually get 2 or 3 build orders a year,” says Doomernik. “A few years back there was gap in orders that we filled with refit and maintenance work. In the past year, we sold 3 again and got 3 optional orders.”
His yard also builds the 3rd Hoek-designed Wally Nano Mk II (below), taking over from a Turkish yard after Doomernik convinced Wally’s Italian owner his yard was a better choice. The Wally Nano Mk II is a carbon-composite vacuum-injection boat. Already 4 have been sold. The Nano fits in a40ft container for global shipping.
“The reinvigorated Wally Nano may now have the performance to match its killer looks,” Yachting World reported in February. “This MkII version marries Italian styling with Dutch workmanship to extraordinary effect.
These classic lines now meet contemporary construction and renowned Dutch attention to detail. The MkII version is also around 300kg lighter than the original.”