In an era before size and speed were hallowed, the most distinguished yachts were characterized by original craftsmanship – a signature of quality that has been maintained by Feadship, the premier shipyard cooperative venture. In 2013, the Feadship Heritage Fleet was launched – a club that celebrates the classic Feadship yachts that were born in those iconic Dutch yards.

‘When I was asked by Henk de Vries in 2013 to help found the Heritage Fleet, it took me half a second to say yes,’ says Victor Muller, CEO of Spyker cars and owner of 1967 Feadship, THE HIGHLANDER. His revival of the Spyker car brand was an homage to the craftsmanship of the golden age of car manufacturing, and here was another legacy, prime to be preserved. ‘It’s a classic car club for yachts,’ Victor continues, ‘the toys are floating, but it’s very comparable.’ Though car clubs such as Ferrari Classiche have long since established a forum for devoted clients, there had previously been no classic yacht members’ institution. Feadship had the illustrious history and reputation required to create one. 

Consistent building standards over the decades since Feadship was formed in 1949 – and previously in their associated shipyards – has ensured the quality of their classic vessels. The Feadship Heritage Fleet unites the owners of those yachts, organizes events for its members and offers yachting services including insurance, financing and audits. Feadship also allows members access to its archives for a detailed record of their yacht’s manufacturing history. This proved invaluable to Victor Muller as a blueprint for THE HIGHLANDER’s second refit. ‘I found out everything about the original layout, the materials used, where the electrical wires were and even photographs of the construction,’ he explains, ‘By going straight to the source for an audit and a survey of the best suppliers and contractors, owners can avoid the mistakes that I initially made.’

Classic Feadships that have been restored or refitted at Feadship’s training school have produced staggering results. Victor cites Rembert Berg’s 1964 Feadship Riva Caravelle SERENA – ‘one of the most elegant ever designed’ – and SANTA MARIA (built for Henry Ford and now Dutch-owned) as two of the best examples of Feadship’s restoration work. ‘The yachts are better than new, without losing their originality,’ Victor states, ‘and were they classic cars, they would win first prize at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.’

The criteria to join the Feadship Heritage Fleet include that the vessel must have been built in
one of Feadship’s shipyards and must be more than thirty years old. Though few Feadships were built annually in the years prior to 1985, Victor is delighted by the steady growth in membership, ‘Last week we welcomed our 50th member of the Heritage Fleet, which is very promising.’ One of the membership benefits currently being worked on is a certification process that will greatly increase the value of the vessel. ‘More than the value however,’ explains Victor, ‘a certificate is the mother-ship telling you, the owner, that you’ve done a good job.’ 

“Like a fine Georgian house, a vintage Feadship has classic proportions. They were drawn on paper, with gorgeous sensual lines – the 1960s in particular was a wonderful era  of yachts.” 

Chris Cecil-Wright

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