Saturday, 05 September 2015

HISWA uses the latest edition of its outdoor show at the Amsterdam Marina to launch its ‘Welcome to the Water’ campaign…

The Netherlands leisure yachting and water sports industry has been taking a close inward look at itself in recent years, studying the trends and statistics which indicate what their prospects for the future are likely to be.

In what has been termed the ‘grey boating scenario’ they have established that many of today’s typical Dutch boat owners are in their later years, and therefore likely to discontinue their hobby and on-water summer lifestyle due to failing health and vitality in ever larger numbers in the coming years.

Although this has been a way of life and a part of the culture in Holland for decades, there is no indication based on current evidence that today’s younger generation are likely to take it up in the same way, or in similar proportions.

HISWA are the official voice of the marine industry in The Netherlands and their recently appointed Managing Director Geert Dijks, used the opening of this year’s event to promote the ‘Welcome to the Water’ campaign.  Geert explained that this is targeted to compensate for the declining trend, and bring back more water sports enthusiasts across all sectors of the nautical leisure scene. He said; “Our aim is to grow the net user base of people actively and regularly enjoying water sports by 10% in the coming five years.”

He emphasised that this will need financial and practical support from all HISWA members, which constitute the majority of boat builders, charter companies, brokers and marinas in the country, pointing out that even marine insurers and financial service providers have to play their part in securing a brighter future for the whole industry.

The 2015 ‘Hiswa te Water’ was being held for the fourth consecutive year at the Amsterdam Marina, conveniently a short free ferry ride across the river from the city’s bustling central station, and already heralded a success compared to its previous coastal location at Ijmuiden, out to the north of the city.

The opening day on 1st September was blessed with remarkably dry and partly sunny weather, considering that Holland had been deluged with torrential rain in the previous few days. And although a brisk northerly wind kept the temperatures down, it certainly made for some lively conditions on the huge boating lake that had been created as the centre piece of the show.

Here there was a chance for youngsters to try their hand at sailing in the Optimist dinghies provided by marine insurers Delta Lloyd, or to get to grips out on the water with a canoe. All free of charge and without restriction other than an insistence that the youngster must have passed his basic swimming test and have a certificate to prove it.

No doubt this is an important part of the HISWA campaign to get the younger generation engaged with water sports, and it certainly looked like a popular and well attended feature of the show.       

Jeroen van den Huevel, HISWA’s membership director, commented that they had been incredibly lucky with the weather for all of the past four years at the new location, considering this was an outdoor show, and that the Dutch weather is well known for its unreliability.  

Unfortunately, and maybe predictably the luck ran out later in the week, when the torrential rain returned, and it seemed appropriate to ask Jeroen what was happening with the proposal to combine the HISWA indoor and outdoor shows into one event. He said: “Yes it seemed like a good idea, which gained a lot of favour, but the sticking point was timing. The indoor show at the Amsterdam RAI is in March, and this one of course towards the end of the season in September.  Opinions are so split on how to compromise this timing to suit everyone, that its now unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future,” he concluded.

So what of the In-Water show itself, well it advertises 300 boats afloat, and attracts 25,000 visitors compared to 50,000 for the indoor event. The variety of boats on display is indeed impressive, with lots of Dutch builders represented as would be expected, and a few of them using the occasion to launch ‘world premier’ viewings of new models. Also a lot of launches, tenders and what the Dutch refer to as sloops (open day boats) which are becoming more and more colorful, fast and adventurous compared to the old wooden ‘slow boat’ designs which frequented the inland lakes in their hundreds during the summer.

To say there is ‘something for everyone’ is no exaggeration, from all types of boating accessories, engines, generators, navigation gear and nautical clothing in the tented village, to brokerage boats, new motor and sailing yachts across the size range… right up to the new Mulder 30 metre aluminium flybridge superyacht. (Pictured below)

For the really salty types there were some very nice classic sail boats out on the dock, such as the 16.45 metre SY Charwill, a North American Bluenose schooner, built in 1921 to a design by William H. Hand.

In 1997, she crossed the Atlantic to the Azores in 28 days, and was immaculately presented for the show, a joy to behold, and available for charter for anyone looking for a very special sailing vacation.

There was also a chance for ‘would be’ blue water racers to get up close and personal with a real Volvo Ocean Race yacht in the shape of the Open 70 Class, Sanya Lan, (Formerly Telefonica Blue.) She competed in the 2011/12 edition of the famous world race, where she achieved speeds of up to 42 knots through the water.       

So, what else caught our eye?  Out of 300 boats, it’s quite a big pack to choose from, but a couple of new models from motorboat builders indicated what seems to be an unstoppable move towards more adventurous colour schemes on modern hulls.  Maybe this will be one of the things that brings back the appeal to younger potential boat owners and their fashion conscious ladies?

First up the very appealing X-53 from Storm Yachts, the show model was in a most distinctive chocolate brown colour, which was impossible to ignore in a prime position at the start of the walk around area on the outer dock of the show.

StormYachts is a relatively new player in the market having been established in 2010 by two Dutchmen, Rob van Kesteren and Corné Knippels. The X-53, at 16 metres is from a stable of six models with the largest measuring up at 30 metres, and all with very distinctive looks that confirm a very clear and striking identity for the Storm brand.

Built from Aluminium with a low pilot house profile and a wide beamed hull, the yacht is aimed at the owner with inland cruising ideas, who wants to traverse the French canals in comfort and style. A range of engine options and a fair degree of interior customisation possibilities offer the chance to have a very distinctive yacht… quite apart from the chocolate brown finish!

Another imaginatively coloured motor yacht aimed at inland waterways cruising, and from a well known Dutch builder was having its world premier at the show.  The Boarncruiser 1200 Elegance Sedan from Boarnstream Yachts was displayed with a very unusual electric blue hull, contrasting very nicely with her sleek low profile white upper superstructure.

All the models in the Boarncruiser Elegance range of full displacement steel cruising yachts, have a spacious, light and airy feel about them, and this one is no exception. With a standard 150hp single engine package, she will top out at 10 knots, and cruise at around 7.

And last but by no means least, it would be remiss of us not to mention a very unusual and eye catching brokerage yacht, which was getting plenty of attention from passers by, who all wanted to know more about her from the friendly staff that were onboard from Prins van Orange Yacht Brokers. The broker themselves have quite a track record having been established in the North Netherlands province of Friesland since 1870!

The boat on display named ‘Kir Royale’ was built in 2003, designed by the renowned Hoek naval architects and built by the Dutch Claassen yard. Her lines are drawn on the basis of an original fishing boat from the Friesland province called a Lemsteraak.  Flat bottomed, with deck and hull constructed from teak and oak leeboards, the yacht is fully fitted with Dacron sails from North Sailmakers, and a 160hp diesel engine with just 880 running hours recorded.

Her interior fit out and joinery detailing is outstanding, and at an asking price of 795,000 euros, she would make a wonderful investment for a classic sailing enthusiast who desires modern comforts combined with traditional workmanship… and a vessel that will last several lifetimes!

The HISWA In-Water Boat Show finishes on Sunday 6th September, and the indoor edition is scheduled for 16TH – 20TH March 2016, at the Amsterdam RAI Exhibition Centre. 

Report for BYM News by Peter Franklin.

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