STEENWIJK –Hans Webbink, founder and CEO of Steeler Yachts, is a late bloomer. He came to the yachting sector around 2000, after hectic decades in executive roles at Royal Dutch Shell and the Philips consumer electronics giant. In 2000 he bought Antaris, maker of inland tenders, but he didn’t quite understand tenders, he says today.
“I didn’t understand why they didn’t have a fridge, for instance. So, I jazzed them up, began selling tenders with toilets, fridges, and berths. We brought functionality to tenders and, by 2008, we were selling 300 Antaris tenders a year.”
He quit Antaris in 2010, eager to take on faster, custom-built projects. That worked well. Steeler Yachts has become a leading motor yacht brand in the past decade. A decade ago, the global economic and financial crisis caused demand for +12m steel yachts to evaporate.
“We had to offer fast, planing, custom-built models,” says Webbink. “Today, half of our turnover comes from aluminum boats.” The yard says it is its ambition to design, build and engineer the highest quality motor yachts available today.”
That ambition has not gone unnoticed. Steeler Yachts was a six-time finalist for the European Powerboat of the Year award in the past decade. It won three times: In 2015 for its remarkable 14m Panorama Flatfloor-46. In 2016, for its 13m G43 Offshore. And in 2019 for its genuinely exceptional, wheelchair-accessible 65S Li-Janne.
Steeler Yachts achieves wheelchair access by having a yacht’s aft section slide out so a wheelchair can be rolled onboard. In front of the wheelhouse, an elevator of 1.5m×1m (4.9ft×3.3ft) goes down to a wheelchair-adapted cabin.
“By now, we have built four wheelchair-accessible yachts,” says Webbink. “We are the only builder in the Netherlands to offer wheelchair access. It is a new segment for Steeler Yachts.
Since 2010, Webbink has built 101 yachts. He recently announced a new aluminum 17.4m 57 S Performance, a quiet vessel that produces only 64 DB at 28 knots. Two Volvo Penta IPS800 systems, of 600HP each, provide propulsion, and at 8 knots, the sound drops to 52 DB.
These days, says Webbink, are not easy. “Prices are through the roof and materials delivery is slow as molasses.”
“I see a future in long-range craft, up to 650ft (20m). Ocean-rated vessels. What do clients want these days? They want to cocoon aboard their yachts and make long trips to Greenland and transatlantic.”
Webbink is very committed to custom-building.
The saloon of the 57 S Performance has a patented lifting roof. Press a button, and the cockpit cover rolls out of sight into the cockpit awning. His first 57 S, a custom project for an Austrian client, has natural stone incorporated into the interior
Webbink introduced his S-design hull in 2017. It comes in 34-75ft (10.4-23m) models, and the Bronson yields higher hull speeds and fuel savings. Also, in 2017, Webbink launched the Steeler Digital Monitoring System that provides 24/7 monitoring of onboard technologies.
“If you want to serve a new segment,” says Webbink, “you must add value. Dayboats in the Med and on the U.S. East Coast have cushy exteriors but little accommodation to serve as a weekender. They are fair-weather boats that go fast. But when the waves hit, they take on water, or worse.”
Webbink’s Bronson craft feature an open connection between a cruiser-style interior and luxurious, launch-like outdoor spaces. It blends the sleek lines of a powerboat with the luxuries of a motor yacht. Webbink optimized the Bronson, not for a higher top speed but a high cruising speed. Webbink: “We made the hull stiffer, and this makes the boat heavier but free of torsion and vibration. We also extend the V-shape of the underwater hull further aft. That provides for comfortable sailing and keeps the boat dryer. Thirdly, we kept to waterline narrow for maneuverability.”
The Bronson 50 was developed with Vripack. Interestingly, it has no fixed saloon roof. At night, a sliding glass roof can be used, developed by Steeler, and produced by Webasto,Webbink has already sold four Bronson 50s. Two are under construction. The Bronson 75 features a galley drawn by the chef of a 3-star restaurant. That, says Webbink, is added value.
Steeler Yachts at a glance:
- In build: a one-off for a Norwegian client: the steel Attétude 61 will be electrically powered, with a possible assist from a generator. Webbink says this is more efficient than having a diesel engine as the main motor.
- Yachts range from 15–25m (49-82ft) in four lines:
- S line: 50-65ft (15.3-20m). Steel boats for long-distance cruising
- S line Performance: 52-67ft (16-20.5m) in aluminum.
- High-Performance cruisers: 50-70ft (15.2-21.4m) aluminum ‘play yachts,’ like the Bronson.
- Custom: a variety of designs, in steel and aluminum.
- Up next: a Steeler Yachts trawler