SNEEK – Oh, joy! There still are still true sailors out there! Folks who prize sailing qualities and style more than interior space. Invariably, they end up on the doorstep of Leonardo Yachts in this northern Dutch town. The company crafts Eagle daysailers inspired by those Jazz Age J-classers of the 1930s. They are “a niche within a niche,” say yard owner Steven Boersma and Commercial Director Sven Coster.
Forty of the gorgeous daysailers have been sold in the past 7 years or so. A map of the world at Leonardo Yachts shows 40 red pins _ stabbed into places where Eagles have been sold. Most are in Europe, but there are also pins in Australia, Japan, Brazil and on both US coasts.
There is much boating in Boersma. His grandfather and father sold sailing and motor boats. He joined DaVinci Yachts _ which makes timeless, classically lined motor yachts _ in 2001. Six years later, he spotted the Eagle brand, then known as the AT 36. It was love at first sight!
“We asked Dijkstra Naval Architects to draw a 42ft. (12.8m.) daysailer,” Boersma tells Dutch Yacht Building. That was in 2008 and soon the global economic crisis also engulfed Boersma. The 42-footer went on ice. As skies cleared again, he returned to the design but asked Dijkstra to develop it into a 44-footer (13.4m / middle photo). By now, Steven Boersma and his brother Melle had started up Leonardo Yachts (in 2011) and focused on sailing yachts. “I acted on what I felt,” Steven Boersma says today. “I felt that if I want to have a product, there must be others wanting that, too.”
The Eagle 44, launched at the 2012 Boot Düsseldorf, was an immediate hit, winning a European-boat-of-the-year nomination in the ‘Special Boats’ category. “In Brazil, an 82-year-old sailor ordered a 44ft. Eagle,” says Boersma. His daysailers come in 3 lengths: 36, 44 and 54 ft. (10.9, 13.4 and 16.5m). A 37-ft. (11.3m) goes into production in the fall. Boersma has already sold a 3 Eagle-54s, a Hoek Design for longer voyages, hence more accommodations, including room for a small crew. And sit down for this one: a 70ft. (21.3m.) Eagle is on the boards of the design studio of Andre Hoek, the spiritual father of the J-Class revival.
Long, slender designs with overhanging bows and sterns, Eagles are classically lined craft with polyester hulls, a spade rudder and T-bulb keels. “Maximum interior space was not a priority,” admits Boersma. His Eagles brim with hi-tech. All lines run to the helmsman in a cockpit that offers miles of elbow room.
Of the Eagle-44, 20 have been sold to date and 16 Eagle-36 yachts. “The 44 is equipped with electric winches,” says Coster. “The main sail is set by pushing a button, the backstay and downhaul are hydraulic. Reef lines and halyards run through a gutter to a central winch and the main sheet runs under the aft deck to a captive winch.”
The Eagle can be quickly brought under sail and are well-balanced. “You can sail them with your pinkie,” says Coster. His yard considered to upgrade the Eagle-36, but opted for a new design instead: The Eagle-37 will be built in vinylester which is more resilient than polyester. “We poured all of our know-how and experience into the 37,” says Boersma. The first has already been sold: to the American owner of an Eagle-54 (2 lower photos) who wants a West Coast ‘winter boat.’
Eagles are packed with A-list brands: Hallspar carbon masts (or aluminum Seldéns); Lewmar or Harken deckware; Raymarine electronics (or Sailmon, or B&G) and a Volvo Penta saildrive diesel. Fully electric propulsion is also possible.
The bare hull of the Eagle-54 is built at Paul Dijkstra of the Netherlands, those of the 36 and 44ft. models in Poland. Keeping the 54ft. build in the Netherlands has to do with size and quality control. “It is a longer build process,” says Boersma. “We engage the client in that and want to keep a close eye on the build process, so we can intervene quickly if need be.”