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History

Major milestones

In the beginning…

Feadship has three yachtbuilding facilities in Aalsmeer, Makkum and Kaag, and one design and engineering centre in Haarlem. Formed as a group in 1949, Feadship has roots that can be traced back a further century. The generations of craftsmen who launched iconic boats under the leadership of the De Vries and Van Lent families in the 1800s and first half of the 1900s are an integral part of the Feadship story. Indeed, many of their descendants have continued to create Feadships well into the 21st century. The roots of the Van Lent yard go back to 1849 and the first De Vries yard opened its doors in 1906.

1949: The formation of Feadship

The two royal shipyards that nowadays make up the Feadship group served owners around the world before World War II. The terrible destruction of that conflict meant that very few people in Europe could afford to buy luxury yachts in its immediate aftermath. Ever innovative, always adventurous, the De Vries and Van Lent families came together with several other Dutch yards to approach the American market, where sales were booming in the late 1940s. The first meeting of the First Export Association of Dutch SHIPbuilders took place in 1949 in Amsterdam’s De Roode Leeuw café restaurant. History was made and Feadship was born. The other members were De Voogt Naval Architects, Van de Stadt (left in 1953), Witsen & Vis (1957), De Vries Lentsch (1958) and Akerboom (1968).

Restaurant de Rode Leeuw
Restaurant de Rode Leeuw
Feadship Capri
Feadship Capri

The 1950s: Early successes

Feadship was introduced to the American public at the 1951 New York Boat Show and immediately sold three boats. The first new order came a month later for Hilda V. In 1953 Capri was crowned Queen of the 1953 International Motor Boat Show as the high quality offered by Feadship impressed judges and owners alike. They were especially wowed by Feadship’s skill with steel, which was rarely used for yachts in North America at the time. As orders started flowing in for motorboats in both steel and aluminium, Feadship stopped building wooden yachts – Souris II in 1955 was the last. Feadship was now firmly established in the lucrative American market and coming to the attention of some pretty famous people. These included Malcolm Forbes, who launched the first of three The Highlander Feadships in 1957.

Feadship-sultan

The 1960s: Becoming a brand

This decade was a period of steady growth in terms of both reputation and the complexity of the Feadships being launched. Camargo IV (1961), for example, showcased high-tech (for the time) features such as retractable stabiliser fins (which reduced roll by 85%) and air conditioning. These comforts prompted more well-known figures to order custom yachts. They included Henry Ford II (Santa Maria) and Arthur Wirtz (Blackhawk), among others. The relentless pursuit of perfection which already characterised Feadship then, and has continued to do so ever since, was revolutionising the way people saw motoryacht cruising. It was a golden era for new ideas, and fully raised wheelhouses or a genuine trans-Atlantic capability were just two of the various markers in construction history to be reached and surpassed during the 1960s. Many of the cool yachts built in this era are leading members of the Feadship Heritage Fleet today.

Feadship Camargo IV
Feadship Camargo IV
Feadship Jardell launch
Feadship Jardell launch

The 1970s: Larger than life

One of the factors in Feadship’s rise to prominence was the way in which owner satisfaction translated into repeat orders. The trend accelerated in the 1970s. It was typified by James Ryder, who so enjoyed his first Feadship Jardell when she was launched in 1970 that he immediately ordered a new, larger one, Big R. Sizes continued to grow throughout the decade until 1978, when the giant 64.64m Al Riyadh was launched (it remained the largest Feadship until Wedge Too in 2002). Al Riyadh was a bespoke boat made for clients in the Middle East, and showed without a doubt that Feadship’s appeal was going global. Nonetheless, the US remained the company’s biggest market and a dedicated Feadship America office was established in 1977. The first Feadship with a satcom system was launched in 1979: Daria opened up the market to people who wanted to carry on working while on their yacht.

Feadship azteca

1980s: Outside influences

As the superyacht industry expanded, so too did the different parties with whom Feadship partnered. Lac II had already become the first Feadship to feature the work of an interior designer (Pierre Tanter) in 1975 and Susan Puleo’s extraordinary glass interior on Circus II in 1983 showed that this movement was here to stay. The 1980s was also the decade that Feadships started incorporating the work of legendary exterior designers, including the amazing profiles drawn by Jon Bannenberg on yachts like Azteca, Paraiso, New Horizon L, Cedar Sea and the green The Highlander. Feadship’s ability to absorb and deploy fresh ideas and influences would prove crucial in the years ahead. Meanwhile, 1984 saw the first Gallant Lady built for Jim and Jan Moran, who would order no fewer than eight Feadships by 2007. The Feadship brand had become synonymous with excellence and those who could afford the best now knew to look no further.

Feadship Circus II
Feadship Circus II
Feadship Mylin IV
Feadship Mylin IV

The 1990s: Bold owners, intrepid motoryachts

The 1990s were a time of rapid expansion in the luxury yachting market. Feadship made sure it maintained and extended its leading position via continuous research & development and upgrading of facilities. The ingenuity of Feadship owners helped power this relentless pursuit of innovation and perfection throughout the decade. Virginian set new design and layout standards by having four full decks. Mylin IV was the first Feadship with a bulbous bow. Solemates became the world’s first fully MCA-compliant superyacht, while Sussurro featured jet propulsion and speeds as high as 46 knots. No place was off limits to Feadship owners by this time: Méduse and Charade made an epic voyage up the Amazon in 1997 and Battered Bull completed two circumnavigations. The end of the decade also saw Excellence II launched for an owner who was pioneering the construction of Feadships with chartering in mind.

Feadship ecstasea

The 2000s: Pure custom creations

The new millennium saw a surge in demand for very large superyachts. With the resale value of Feadships secure, owners took the custom approach to yachtbuilding to new heights. The wonderful Wedge Too set a new size record and featured an incredible Phillippe Starck- designed oval superstructure clad with oiled teak. Andiamo was the first expedition-type Feadship, created for a lady who loves cruising far seas in exceptional comfort. The 86m speed machine Ecstasea added 20 metres to the length record while combining 30+ knots of gas turbine power with a helicopter hangar hidden in the bow. Predator’s owner also required high speeds but wanted this achieved through a revolutionary axe-bow concept. With its low profile and slightly sinister appearance, this sleek seakeeper made clear that nothing was out of bounds for Feadship clients. Appropriately enough, the 2000s also saw the advent of the first of the Feadship Future Concepts.

Feadship Andiamo
Feadship Andiamo
Feadship Tango
Feadship Tango

2010s: History in the making…

And so we come to the present time and a block of text that will need constant updating, such is the pace at which history is being made by Feadship’s clients. There have already been many highlights, including Feadship becoming the first ‘western’ yard to build a superyacht for a client from the Chinese mainland (Blue Sky). Feadship now showcases its quality to a global audience with award-winning masterpieces such as Tango, a superb example of seamless cooperation between builders, naval architects, designers and owners. Sea Owl re-drew the map for bespoke interiors with her 200 hand-carved statues and four-story ‘tree of life’ staircase. An inspirational owner requested an unprecedented amount of glass on his Venus, and much more besides. Savannah became the first hybrid motor-superyacht in an amazing style. And Feadships continue to grow in size: Mushashi (88m) and Madame GU (99m) led us inexorably to crossing the 100-metre mark with Symphony. There is much to look forward to…

UNIQUITY

What’s in a word? Quite a lot when it comes to ‘custom’, which is perhaps the most overused and diluted term in the superyacht industry. The word ‘custom’ has lost its original meaning. According to Merriam-Webster, the adjective ‘custom’ is used to describe something that is “made to fit the needs or requirements of a particular person.” The Oxford dictionary – tagline ‘language matters’ – is even more succinct, defining custom as being “made or done to order.”