ENKHUIZEN _ Schooners. Ketches. Leeboards. Brigantines. Clippers. Barks. A generous whiff of nostalgia rises from Olivier van Meer’s voluminous work as a naval architect, designer and engineer. Since 1985, his studio has worked on no fewer than 650+ projects, new and old. To get a true sense of the breadth of Van Meer’s work look no further than 2 recent projects.
The robust 27.3m Spirit of Venice (above) is designed for circumnavigating. And the charming, century-old saloon boat Sally (right) is for lazy, inland water rides on sunny afternoons. The Spirit of Venice has an aluminum hull (Dijkstra Metaalbewerking, Harlingen) and a Corecell composite deck, cockpit and superstructure (VMG Yachtbuilders, Enkhuizen).
“This allowed for a good balance between cost, strength and weight,” says Van Meer. “The aluminum hull has been reinforced to provide protection against floating materials at sea.” The Spirit of Venice’s owner, an experienced ocean sailor, wants to be able to sail the boat single-handed which explains the stem-to-stern electric furling.e design offers the best combination of speed and comfort,” says Van Meer.
“The Spirit of Venice can be sailed from within the cockpit in bad weather, offering optimal protection against the elements.” The yacht accommodates 6 people in 3 cabins and has a 202HP, 153kW Volvo Penta. The owner opted for a classic interior _ lots of wood, bronze and brass _ and “was closely involved every step of the way,” says Van Meer. He says the client chose him because he wanted a design drawn from “a life-at-sea perspective.” Born on a gaff schooner, Van Meer sailed over 100.000 miles before becoming the Netherlands’ youngest licensed captain.
His role in the resurrection of Sally, built in 1910, is of a different order. Van Meer guided a 7-month renovation that has gotten 15m (49ft.) craft ready for another century. The Sally is the Netherlands’ oldest saloon boat, a type of craft that’s taken onto Dutch lakes and canals on slow weekends. The owner is a classic yacht enthusiast who has given Sally another century on the water.
The one-off has a steel, off-white hull and mahogany superstructures with brass portholes and fittings. There is an open steering position midship (to handle a mechanical steering system with original manual controls) between the forward cabins and aft superstructure. The saloon holds an L-shaped settee, large windows, a spare berth and a small galley and opens to an open aft cockpit.
The Spirit of Venice and the Sally bookend a portfolio running the gamut from small inland craft to large expedition yachts. Taking pride of place in that portfolio is Van Meer’s love of classically-lined sailing yachts that are comfortable and safe.
A textbook example of that are his custom Puffins (left) – a series of 27 to 65ft (8.3 to 20m) he launched in 1994. Made of steel, aluminum or composite material, Van Meer’s Puffins feature spacious interiors and large deck saloons. “The Puffin range is set to remain the Rolls Royce of sailing cutters for a long time to come.,” says Van Meer.
www.oliviervanmeer.com /photos: Olivier van Meer Design