Mark Cavendish, Chief Commercial Officer at Heesen Yachts discusses the special values the company shares with the owners and wider Heesen family workforce

If the essence of yachting is spending time with the family, then Heesen is the Godfather. Family has always been at the heart of our shipyard. When an owner or captain joins the fold, they remain one of ours forever. They may go on to build with different shipyards or captain other yachts, but once a Heesen family member, always a Heesen family member.

We stay true to this ethos from first meeting right through to delivery and beyond. What that actually means is that we listen to our clients, guide them on their journey and support them in after sales. And while our owner’s visions are bold and at times challenging, we never say no. They say the sky is the limit, but we continue to reach for the stars.

From the moment our founding father Frans Heesen acquired the business in 1978 we’ve been delivering the unexpected. Innovation is the lifeblood of our shipyard, and our workforce are its vital organs. Work doesn’t finish when night falls in Oss in the Netherlands. Spotlights and welders illuminate the scene as steel and aluminium plates transform into cutting edge vessels. The beginning of a build is a magical time when a yacht designer’s imagination joins forces with the bravery of an owner.

Luckily for us, we’ve worked with some of the bravest owners of them all. The launch of 44m Octopussy in 1988 – the fastest superyacht in the world topping out at
53.17 knots – brought world-wide acclaim to our sleepy corner of Holland. Octopussy is now widely recognised as ‘the superyacht that couldn’t be built’, and she stands as testament to our unrelenting commitment to keep pushing forward even when other yards hold back.

More than 30 years after Octopussy we’re still setting new records. SkyFall is the most powerful project that we have created to date, a 60-metre FDHF all-aluminium, full-custom motoryacht set for delivery in spring 2023. Her thunder will come from 22,000 horsepower. This extraordinary power will feed four water jets that will drive her at 37 knots in light load conditions – an impressive feat, particularly when considering her significant 900GT volume.

And then there’s our largest yacht to date; 80m Cosmos, which is currently in build. When delivered in 2022 she will be the first boat in the world to draw strength and rigidity from our patented Backbone technology. Reminiscent of an I girder support beam used within property construction it has enabled us to exceed the parameters of building in malleable aluminium.


The Backbone perfectly exemplifies how we find the technology to realise our yachts, not the other way around. On top of that, Cosmos will be ferociously rapid for a yacht even half its size. To deliver on our promise of a near 30-knot top speed, four MTU engines will be fitted to drive two controllable pitch propellers, which are in-turn required to handle the 19,000hp.

“Weight is the big enemy of speed, so to keep the weight down we had to build in aluminum which is much softer than steel,” says Mark Cavendish, Chief Commercial Officer at Heesen. “We needed to get strength and rigidity into the hull and stop it from flexing, so we developed the now patented Backbone technology that allows us to build a long hull and still keep it rigid.”

It seems a formidable task to create new technology to suit our needs, and it certainly took many months of research and testing before we began to see results. But as the yard who pioneered aluminium construction it’s one of the many strings to our yachting bow.

In 2013 we delivered Galactica Star, the world’s first Fast Displacement Hull Form (FDHF) yacht developed in partnership with Van Oossanen. The 42m Alive was the first yacht to harness kinetic energy in 2014 thanks to an underwater wing we coined the Hull Vane. In 2017 we moved closer to our sustainability goals by delivering 50m Home, the world’s first FDHF yacht equipped with hybrid propulsion.

There are a number of different avenues that shipyards are exploring today to reduce the impact that yachts have on the ocean and environment and it goes a lot deeper than simply reducing a carbon footprint. We were the first shipyard to pioneer the aforementioned optimised hull form (FDHF) for fuel efficiency. Regulatory changes also help to drive the sustainability segment forward and we welcome that. For example, we will be the first shipyard to build an IMO Tier III-compliant fast-cruising yacht below 500GT when Aquamarine delivers in 2021. But sustainability requires an altogether holistic approach, and this begins at our facilities in Oss.

We continue to explore renewable and alternative energy sources, including harnessing solar power. Patented Sun Tracker technology has already been installed on the roof of our dry dock. But as a shipyard, we are considered a rarity because we build all of our yacht interiors entirely in-house. We have a dedicated workshopinWinterswijk thatishometo over 130 artisans, all highly-skilled specialists in their field. From spectacular glass staircases to contemporary cabinetmaking and joinery, no customised detail is too big or too small. On a simple level, this makes our builds highly efficient. On a more detailed level, it means we can guarantee Dutch quality throughout.

The Dutch quality badge of approval is something that has been collectively earned by the Netherland’s many manufacturers, but we assume personal responsibility for seeing it through. It’s one of the reasons why we invest so heavily in the acquisition of young talent. It’s also why all of our hulls go through rigorous computational fluid dynamic testing before construction ever begins. Scale models of our yachts are put through their paces at the world-renowned Wolfson Unit, which means by the time they’re given the thumbs up even the most demanding of experts is satisfied.

The short-term result is that our yachts are safe, seaworthy, comfortable and innovative. Our new builds, both custom and semi-custom, tick all the boxes when it comes to contemporary yachting. But the long-term result is that a Heesen yacht retains its value. Much like the automobile sector, the lifecycle of yachts varies wildly, but our owners rest assured in the knowledge that if the time comes to sell, the heritage, expert engineering and build quality of a Heesen will always appeal. It’s for this reason that most of our captains choose to source Heesen original spare parts and rely on our refit services rather than local shipyards. It’s made all the easier by our ‘flying squad’ of technicians who are ready to travel at a moment’s notice to any location in the world.

Even during times of unknown, we pull together and work as one. We prioritise each and every individual, and when Covid-19 hit earlier this year we were quick to respond. We implemented governmental guidelines and introduced a rota system that meant our facilities could remain open in a safe and socially distanced format. We partnered with private aviation Vista Jet to create a safe travel bubble for our owners and captains so that when they needed to visit us in Oss, we were able to welcome them with all the necessary precautions in place.

“Innovation, the attention to detail and a dedicated team of experts that love their job is key to the future of Heesen. As a team, we are 100% certain, this progress over the past 42 years will continue,” says Cavendish.
There is no doubt that Heesen enjoys a challenge. Owners, designers and our internal engineers and craftsmen are constantly pushing the boundaries of design, technology and use of materials. However, we are continuous of our remit to help protect the environment and much of our internal research and development is focused on developing yachts that will have a lower impact on our oceans. Hybrid propulsion, the use of certain materials and on-going maintenance can all help to lower the emissions from our fleet and we are proud of the fact that we continue to attract partners and owners that share this vision.

At the start of 2020, we had 13 yachts under construction at a total of 731 linear metres and at an impressive total gross tonnage of 10,114 GT. Even more impressively, we remain on schedule for all of our builds, despite Covid-19. It goes back to our family values. We look after our own. If we make a promise, we stick to it. And it’s for that reason that we stand by our mantra: No mission impossible.

For more details visit www.heesenyachts.com