SCHEVENINGEN _ In an airy office in this North Sea fishing port and marina, Studio Delta crafts a remarkably divers portfolio. Since 1999, it has already worked on 30+ naval architecture and consultancy projects of up to 100 m+. Superyachts. Fast tenders. Motor yachts. Day boats. A classic Scandinavian ‘Bakdekker.’ Oh, yes, and, of course, that charming S.S. George Stephenson, a classic steam-powered work horse built in 2012.
In 1999, after several years of co-working, Menno van Dijk founded studio Delta and went solo. “That was a rational choice,” he tells this newsletter, “And also a strategic one! I saw motor yachts offering the best opportunities. And there was great demand for naval architects with construction experience.”
An early order was an unusual one: a fast (18knots) 8.9m (29ft.) ‘bakdekker’ _ a Scandinavian motor yacht of a design that had its glory days between the 2 world wars. It sports a raised foredeck over a saloon with beds, a galley and a head. Aft is a low, open cockpit with an engine, either covered or not. Next up: orders for a Nordic Star 32, a Long Island Runabout and a Sportsman-33 and soon Van Dijk was hiring. Today he employs a staff of 8.
“The Long Island runabout and the Sportsman-33 were retro-designs, each with a 315HP Yanmar,” he says. “But they had completely different interiors and sailing qualities.”
Five years ago, Van Dijk put yacht design on a back burner to focus on naval architecture, structural design and project consultancy. “I did that for clarity’s sake,” he says. “To clearly position ourselves as naval architects. We are trained in shipbuilding design. We are not trained designer. We are part of the designer-naval architect-project developer-builder chain. Share with us your vision and we’ll make you a boat with great sailing qualities. After all, in the final analysis, that’s what it is all about: making sea-worthy boats with optimal sailing behavior.”
Technical solutions require him to be creative. Van Dijk remembers drawing a 32ft. limo tender for an existing superyacht. “It meant we had to work around an existing onboard infrastructure of garage gear. We had to work with the shape and space of the tender garage. Also, structural superyacht plates were in our way. This required creative solutions. Creative, not in an artistic design sense, but in terms of mathematical calculations.”
For the aluminum Guido de Groot-designed Vanquish Yachts, Studio Delta created luxurious, comfortable, fast craft, i.e. a light but very strong construction. “We used 4mm aluminum plates, flange fittings to avoid welding and gave the frame holes to reduce weight. In the Vanquish 54, the engines rest of 30 mm plates. The 58, now in development, will get twin 1200HP engines. It must carry 2 x 580 kilos of surface drives. That, too, requires creative construction solutions.”
In a joint project with Van Oossanen Naval Architects, Studio Delta worked on the 41m, composite motor yacht Rüya of Turkey’s Alia Yachts. It used Lloyds Register Special Service Craft software to assures shipbuilders they work within LR Rules for SSC. Delta Studio also carried out special construction calculations (crane bases, thrust bearings etc.)
The charming George Stephenson is a salute to 1950s shipbuilding. Ordered by lover of steam power, the vessel comprises parts of ex-steam ships built into a new hull. Interestingly, the propeller shaft can be driven by a diesel engine _ a vintage 140HP Gardner _ or by a compound steam engine, a type in which steam is expanded in 2 or more stages. Invented in 1781, this technique became popular in Lancashire textile mills. the steam engine.
Studio Delta’s spectacular offices are located in the port of Scheveningen, a coastal suburb of The Hague. The company engages lots of trainees. “The ship and yacht building sectors are part of a cool industry. We love inspiring young people. It is important that traineeships are done correctly. This industry needs trainees, and some find permanent work at our studio.” Van Dijk also promotes sustainable boat building.
His studio sponsors London-based Blue Marine Foundation, a marine conservation NGO. “We are hugely proud of our partnership with Studio Delta,” says Sara-Jane Skinner, Blue Marine Foundation’s head of partnerships. “”They were one of the first yacht designers to acknowledge their responsibility not just towards what floats on top of the water but also what is happening underneath.
Van Dijk is upbeat about the future. His studio marks its 20th anniversary next year with a well-stocked order book. “There is still much to develop technically in the market. The large-yachts market has a bright outlook. And I notice that many yards invest in staying connected with the base of their market, i.e. boats of about 30m. For us, there is still ample growth ahead..”