Frank Mulder’s career began as assistant yard manager for Amels. Two years later, he moved to Damen Yachting as head of high-speed ship design. At age 28, he opened his firm specialising in high-speed commercial and navy projects.
Three years later, Mulder Design was born. He designed six yachts for Heesen, including the well-received Tropic C (now Sea Axis), when he received a call from MTU’s sales director, telling him he’d just recommended his studio to an American named John Staluppi who had bought three engines and needed an architect to design a yacht around them.
Mulder recalls: “Monday afternoon the telephone rang. He introduced himself, ‘My name is John Staluppi, you don’t know me but I’ve got a reference for you and I have a question.’ The question was can you build me the fastest motor yacht in the world…I said I would need to call him back.”
“In those days, in 1986, I had a very small computer with my own programme on it for speed prediction. I looked at it and ran some calculations. I called him back and said, ‘I think so'."
As a result, the all-aluminium, record-breaking 40.2-metre Octopussy topping 50 knots was born, followed by eight more iconic yachts for Staluppi, including Moonraker (his first yacht designed on a computer in 1991), World Is Not Enough and, most recently, the Benetti yacht Spectre.
With 1,000 of the company’s designs launched, Mulder’s career is unparalleled. While many of the larger boats were built in fibreglass at production yards including Gulf Craft, Moonen, Cheoy Lee and Vicem, there have also been some notable custom projects, such as Blue Sky for Codecasa and Blowzy at Heesen, and 200 commercial ships.
In 2022, Frank Mulder stepped down, leaving Mulder Design to his son, Bas, who graduated from the same naval architecture school as Frank and is now leading the family business into the future.
He accepted his award at the Superyacht Design Festival in Kitzbuhel to rapturous applause.Read More/Spectre: On Board the 69m Bond-inspired Benetti superyacht