AALSMEER – To the Dutch, a sloep’ (pronounced sloop) is not a sailboat but an open (or covered) cockpit tender used for exploring rural and urban canals. Eyeing cows and homes from a slow boat is an indelible Dutch passion that never translated well to foreign markets.
But that is now changing.
Dutch-born Meindert Wolfraad’s company Lekker Boats makes aluminum Damsko tenders of 7.5 and 10m (left) in the Netherlands and sells them in Australia where he has been living since 2008. Wolfraad has sold 55 Damsko-750s in the past 4 years. His tenders look like the ones you see on the canals of Amsterdam, but are superfast. “And very powerful,” he adds. “They can tow a wake boarder.” There are open, cabin and convertible versions.
The Damsko 1000 can be outfitted with a diesel or regular gas-fired Mercury inboard engine and hold up to 25 people. It has a striking design, with a deep-V bow that transforms into a flatter hull shape toward the aft. The hull has been optimized for constant stability in calm and rough waters.
He sold the first to American fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger who located his European headquarters in Amsterdam.
What makes the Damsko 1000 unique, says Wolfraad, is that it “will have you flying over the water with a top speed of 80km/h (42 knots). There’s simply nothing like it out there!”
That’s up for debate. Waterdream, a Dutch rival, begun in 2012 by Prince Bernhard of Orange, a nephew of King Willem Alexander, designs and makes pricey, high-end aluminum tender-type boats (right).
They can also be used for water skiing and wake boarding. Only a few will be built. They are highly finished craft with a carbon steering wheel, a glass-door wine cooler, hand-stitched leather upholstery and powered by a 300HP, 4.2-liter V6 Yamaha.