The Dutch go fishing for deals in America

By Robert Wielaard

VOLLENHOVE – Royal Huisman is showing off the looks and lines of its jaw-dropping Project 406: a sportfishing boat that is 52m (171ft) long, six decks high and brimming with luxury. To build the world’s largest superyacht fishing boat, it has teamed up with the veteran yacht design and engineering studio of Vripack Yacht Design, also of the Netherlands.

Vripack Co-Creative Director Bart Bouwhuis speaks of “a sport fisher on steroids with the true proportions and long, flaring bow of a typical American sportfishing boat, paired with the harmonious feel of a luxurious superyacht.”

Vripack handles the exterior and interior design as well as the naval architecture.

So far Project 406 is a marketing tease.

Construction will start soon, but Royal Huisman will not say when exactly. It has issued a rendering of Project 406 and some random mood shots of offshore fishing in Florida. But it stays mum for now on technical details, except to say the vessel will have a hull and superstructure of light-weight Alustar aluminum.

Royal Huisman boasts a hefty history, going back to 1884. Once a maker of wooden workboats, today it produces big, one-off performance sailing yachts. And, increasingly, large, complex motor yacht projects, but none as ambitious as the massive sportfishing craft.

CEO Jan Timmerman relishes building unique, and uniquely complex, yachts.

“The world’s first true sportfish superyacht is a very exciting order,” he says.

“It is good to know that our reputation as the home of the world’s finest sailing yachts is now expanding to embrace the world’s most distinctive motor yachts.”

Royal Huisman is not the only Dutch boatbuilder trolling for deep-pocket clients up and down the US eastern seaboard.

Vanquish Yachts has in the past year ramped up production to meet growing demand for very large, very fast motor yachts in the US. Its fleet includes a 24m (80.5ft.) craft for offshore sport fishermen. Rival Wajer Yachts is also stepping up its presence in the US.

In the Dutch yacht-building sector, the US has long been seen as aluminum-averse. But that is changing.

Says Vanquish Yachts COO Sander Mars (left), “US clients are getting used to aluminum. And why not? It’s light-weight, strong and makes true custom building possible.”

The US accounts for 60% of Vanquish’s market, a market penetration rate for a Dutch yacht builder that didn’t even exist 10 years ago.

The sportfishing superyacht blends the ultimate fishing experience with genuine superyacht scale, comfort and refinement.

Sportfishing, offshore or inland, is a massive industry in the United States. The country boasts an estimated 40 million anglers. Florida’s warm waters that teem with big-game species, like marlin and swordfish, attract sport fishers year-round. Some venture up to 70 miles (113 km) offshore. Their boats can be 30m (98ft) long. Soon these will be dwarfed by Royal Huisman’s Project 406.

Like Vanquish Yachts and Wajer Yachts, Royal Huisman taps into a sport that has attracted many superyacht owners in recent decades. “Against this backdrop, Project 406’s 52m (171ft)  is a serious step up, involving significant design and engineering challenges,” says Timmerman.

The Royal Huisman project will feature a sky lounge with “the relaxed ambiance and stunning outlook of a boutique hotel penthouse.”  It will be fitted out for both high-end sportfishing and luxurious living.  The yacht’s lines sweep dramatically aft from a long,  sleek bow, through six towering decks to the downward arc of her stern profile.