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Summer 2006

Article selected from our quarterly magazine dedicated to the largest and most luxurious boats with information, interviews, technical articles, images and yachting news



Yachting catalogue

Navigation tests

Used boats


Video Nautica

Article by
Angelo Colombo


  On the occasion of the Dubai Boat Show we had the chance to interview Victor Caminada, marketing manager of the Dutch shipyard Amels. We asked him a few questions with view to giving our readers a clearer idea of the situation at this yard which has created some of the finest yachts around.

Victor Caminada (to the left) and Rob Luijendijk, business manager of Amels shipyard

Mr Caminada, since we're here, what brought you to the Dubai Boat Show?

The Amels yard has been building yachts since 1980 and we've had six customers in this area, as well as excellent contacts. We understand their specific needs, which are sometimes different from those of European and American customers. It's very important for us to be here in Dubai. It's a greatly expanding market and we feel we should be here. It's the first time we've come and we're impressed by the number of contacts we've had over these days, with our own customers and with other people. We see this show as the first step to taking up a position on the market, but this is the same for all the other participants. For example we're here with the Dutch group of companies involved in the pleasure craft sector, just as there are similar groups from other countries.

What does a shipyard need in order to be competitive in these countries?

The local market demands quality without compromises, the maximum possible. We are convinced that we can offer this qualitative level, and to date the local market has paid attention to us. We recently got important international recognition for our special 73 metre yacht with retractable helipad and hangar. It was precisely this solution that brought us such recognition. A one- off construction yes, but we're already working on the production of a semi-custom limited edition of a 171', a family of yachts which will be extended subsequently to 212 footers with a totally new concept. We'll be presenting the latter at Munich 2006, also showing a scale model. Just think: in the three months since the 171' was launched we've already sold two. But keep in mind that in this part of the world people generally want totally customised boats. Now and then someone might ask for a semi-custom like the 171', but I think this is partly because we can build one in just 14 months from the order date.

So as well as being important, this market also has some special aspects .

Absolutely. Consider that generally the local customers don't want you to know who they are or where they're going to keep the yacht. They don't let us photograph it for international magazines. This market is big on privacy, so to handle things properly you have to maintain a high level of confidentiality, something that isn't required on other markets.

To deliver such an order in just 14 months you must surely have extensive structures...

At present we have two yards where we're working every day, one in the north of Holland and one in the south. We manage to produce and handle most of what the finished yacht consists of. Above all we're able to test everything, from aesthetic to technical details, so what gets launched is a yacht that perfectly and fully corresponds to what we were aiming at. But keep in mind that though we launched our first pleasure craft in 1982, we've been producing military, merchant and special vessels since 1918, so we've developed extraordinary and above all varied experience.

Who do you feel is your main competitor?

Feadship, definitely. But we have a great relationship with them, even if we both build yachts of the same size and sometimes for the same owners.

What are your reference markets?

Certainly the United States, Russia and the Middle East. The Russian market is very important. The Chinese market is still immature in my opinion but it may have interesting potential. It'll definitely grow, and we're already beginning to see a few big yachts around. The problem is that there's no yachting culture yet, just as there are no structures. Until these circumstances change, that market will remain only a potential one. They've got plenty of money to spend in that part of the world, but they don't really know what a boat is. So we'll be in Shanghai too, though we already know that it'll be a holiday more than anything else.

On the basis of the structures available, what's the largest size you could build?

We can build yachts up to 200 metres, but we intend to operate mainly on lengths between 50 and 90 metres, our speciality. Though we have greater potential we prefer to concentrate on the sizes we've become highly experienced in.

Is your choice always steel hull and aluminium superstructure?

Yes, it's a precise operational choice. I feel there's no better combination of materials for hulls of such sizes that are moreover displacement. You don't get the structural toughness of steel with other materials, and the weight doesn't affect performance. So I don't see any good reason for choosing other materials. If you're building planing or semi-planing hulls you're obliged to make different choices, but that's a type of production that doesn't interest us.

We know that you also use shipyards outside Holland.

Yes, we have yards in Poland where we can keep production costs down while maintaining impeccable workmanship on a par with our Dutch yards. But we give the customer the choice of where he wants his boat built. This is no problem for us. Poland has a long shipbuilding tradition, and that's why we chose it as a place to have our yachts built in accordance with our own specifications. Then as part of the Damen Shipyards Group we've got yards in China, Cuba and Rumania where they build everything from military ships to big yachts and fast coastguard vessels. We joined the group in 1991 and are an integral part of it with our own structures. As for the yacht interiors, we outsource the work to companies that collaborate with us and other Dutch and German yards. They're highly skilled and can really adapt to any requirement whatever, always guaranteeing top qualitative standards. They're masters at interpreting what the architects and owners submit to them, which is a great attribute for someone who has to create something that often represents the customer's dream. Very often we bring in Italian designers too as an aid to those who must materially create what the customer has asked for.

The last yacht you launched? And the next ones?

The last was Lady Ann in December. As for the future, we're making a series of considerations about the 212'. We're still at the preliminary phases so we can't say when we'll start building, far less when it will be launched.