Gerard Dijkstra saluted for a lifetime of groundbreaking designs

MILAN – Gerard Dijkstra, whose naval architecture studio boasts over 50 years of experience in design, naval architecture, and marine engineering of classic and modern yachts, received a Lifetime Achievement Award at a Boat International design and innovation event in Milan.

About time, too! Few yachting sector areas have escaped the impact of Dijkstra’s remarkable career. As the award jury put it:

“Gerard’s career has been a long and interesting path from signing on as a deckhand at age 19, navigating the yacht Flyer to a first-place finish in the 1977-1978 Whitbread to designing supply boats in Indonesia to contributing to the resurgence of the J Class” of classic sailing yachts of America’s Jazz Age.

It added, “Along the way, boats from your studio won lots of prestigious awards. We are equally impressed with the work you have done to advance the science of sailing yacht design, rigs, and deck layouts by undertaking constant research, development, and testing that you have willingly shared with professional associations.”

Gerard Dijkstra. Foto LvZ

The name Dijkstra – the Amsterdam studio he founded in 1969 uses the spelling ‘Dykstra,’ which is easier for non-Dutch speakers – looms large in a vast array of boat designs. His research generated truly impressive yachts. One unique project was the 88m Maltese Falcon and its Dynarig – three free-standing, carbon fiber masts holding five sails. Setting all sails only takes 6 minutes.

The Dykstra Naval Architects studio still monitors the innovative rig’s performance through data harvested by 60 fiber optic sensors embedded in its masts. The primary beneficiary is Magma Global, the UK builder of the 2 Dynarigs _ the Maltese Falcon and the 106m Oceanco-built Black Pearl. Magma and Dykstra also get data readouts of the Dykstra-designed Aerorig on ‘A,’ at 142m, the world’s largest sailing yacht designed to withstand a Category 2 hurricane.

The Maltese Falcon and its 3 free-standing, 57m carbon fiber masts have done 100,000 sea miles to date. From 2006 to 2014 alone, its 15 square sails were set 11,803 times and were up for 60,696 hours.

Dykstra Naval Architects also did groundbreaking work in the revival of the J-Class yachts — towering sailboats that were American tycoons’ favorite toys from 1914 to 1937. The studio rebuilt or redesigned eight of those yachts.