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16 ShowBoats Design Awards 2016 winners

16 ShowBoats Design Awards 2016 winners

16 of 16 16/16
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ShowBoats Design Awards winners
16

Frederik "Frits' De Voogt

Lifetime Achievement Award winner

There was little doubt that Frits de Voogt would be involved with boats; he is, after all, a Dutchman, but the fact that his father, Henri de Voogt, was a naval architect set him on his path. The fact that he was the first Secretary of a fledging venture called Feadship made the critical difference, to his son and to yachting.

Frits studied at Delft with the idea of designing great ships; in fact, the common feeling around Delft was that yachts were “silly things”. He took engineering seriously and was not interested in the small steel cruisers his father began drawing in the late 1940s. “I thought I was getting away from all of that to do big, important ships,” he says. “Then my father became both ill and busy. He insisted I come home at the end of my studies to help him… that turned out OK,” he says with his characteristic dry understatement.

Even though Frits had been a member of the 1952 Dutch Olympic rowing team, he had to earn his stripes in the design office year by year. The first yacht he points to as being truly his own is the 1960 Camargo V. That 116 footer was a “nice one”, he says.

“That’s when boats were getting bigger and we could put things in that people wanted like stabilizers and air conditioning. We got the idea to start making our own equipment.” Putting gensets on Feadships freed up space, and with that came de Voogt’s research into reduction of noise, vibration and soot, and development of desalination and sewage treatment plants.

Feadship had started with the idea of impressing American boat buyers with Dutch quality and Frits would take that to new levels, pushing for the intangible aura of quality that set the product apart. Once, while interviewing him about a new yacht, I asked if it was built to Lloyd’s. The already very tall de Voogt squared his shoulders. He seemed to have gained another foot and his impossibly bushy eyebrows were aimed like darts. “We build to Feadship standard,” he boomed.

The characteristic look of unbroken sheer, graceful flared bow and balanced profile are one thing but Frits uniquely combined design with creating the dream that sold the yachts.

Henk de Vries believes Frits de Voogt made modern day Feadship possible. “He was the glue that managed the individuals and the decisions he made, he made for the good of all.”

Frits shrugs off such notions by talking teamwork. “We were three families but we were of the same mind. You have to work, but hard work is especially fun. I was simply a developer and refiner of possibilities.”

This award is sponsored by Centtrip.

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