There is still life left in this 50-year-old Vripack design

By Robert Wielaard

RAAMSDONKVEER – Unlike Americans, the Dutch are not addicted to trawler yachts. Yet their country turns out impressive ones. Check out Altena Yachting. It is building a 20m (66ft.) Dogger Bank Offshore, a 50-year-old design that’s perhaps the most quintessential Dutch watercraft.

It is a seaworthy, classically lined vessel with a steel, round bilge hull holding up an aluminum superstructure. It has a 5.65m (18.5ft.) beam, a draft of 1.70m (5.6ft), and is powered by twin 235HP John Deeres. There are high bulwarks all around. A Portuguese bridge fronts the wheelhouse that carries a flybridge and deck.

The trawler is named after a vast North Sea shoal, 100 kilometers (62 mi) off England’s east coast, long prized for its ample stocks of cod. Centuries ago, Dutch craft – called ‘doggers’ – ventured out there to fish. The Dogger Bank yacht was designed in the 1970s by Dick Boon, founder of Vripack, one of the world’s oldest naval architecture and engineering studios. It has to date worked on more than 4,000 yachts and commercial vessels.

Vripack Co-Creative Directors Marnix Hoekstra (l) and Bart Bouwhuis

Vripack Co-Creative Director Bart Bouwhuis says the Dogger Bank is like a Swiss Army knife. “It’s solid, rigid, and highly engineered. It’s ready to perform in any condition.”

The Dogger Bank, long seen as a reliable, Dutch-designed, engineered, and built yacht, tells a tale of seaworthy durability. Its rugged, offshore design was first shown in the 1970s, and it continues to woo clients and fame 50 years on.

More than 700 Dogger Banks have been built to date. The 20m version taking shape at Altena Yachting is a manageable size for choppy Northern European waters. Still, the brand is spotted around the world.

Founded in 1969, Altena Yachting custom-builds recreational yachts in different sizes _ trawlers, yachts, canal cruisers, etc. It also does repairs, renovations and refits.

Vripack-designed explorer RH3

As for Vripack, it has expedition vessels, either in build or launching soon. They range from the 3rd hull of 24m (79ft) pocket explorer ROCK and the 1st of ROCK XL to a 54m (177ft) Patagonia sailing ketch and a 36,5m (120ft) motor yacht explorer. The latter is a derivative of the Vripack-designed explorer RH3 that has crossed the Atlantic at least 16 times since its 2003 launch.

“We are the Norman Fosters or Zaha Hadids of naval architecture,” says Vripack’s other co-creator Marnix Hoekstra. “We design big buildings, but also do little houses, and sheds, and schools. It’s all architecture on the sea. There are way more boats below 500GT than there are above and that’s where we keep making an impact even after 60 years.”

While Vripack delights in seeing its old soldiers, like the Dogger Bank, do well, the studio is committed to designing ever greener yachts. It is currently working on 2 “pioneering projects” whose construction is slated for late 2021:  a 70m (230ft) sailing yacht Zero, which comes advertised as ” the world’s first fossil-free superyacht.” The other is Vripack’s first design of a hydrogen-fueled boat.   /