Evolution is in our DNA
Project Manager Romke van der Linde shares his candid insight into the build of the Amels 80 and why, when it comes to building boats, it’s the human factor that carries the greatest influence.
“If you address a project very much from a business prospective while keeping to the letter of the contract, you will always be on the safe side. But I don’t, I can’t. That’s not how I’m wired.’’
For many outside of the shipyard walls, the Amels 80 will no longer only be the design introduced some 18 months earlier. With the first hull of this new Limited Editions arriving in Vlissingen for outfitting, things are about to get and look very real. A milestone by no means underestimated by Romke, an experienced Amels Project Manager leading the build.
“The way I look at this is different to what you might expect. It’s a great moment, yes but I don’t look at what we are doing through rose tinted glasses. I look at the reality. Boats aren’t built by systems, boats aren’t built by companies, boats aren’t built by software, boats aren’t built by machines. Boats are built by people. That is my motto. That’s what it’s all about.’’
An opinion based on 16 years with the company when he joined Damen Yachting from a very different industry but one also focused on large-scale complex engineering projects. Taking on one of the early Amels 171s LADY NAG NAG, his first project proved to be a major learning curve in the world of yacht building but one he embraced wholeheartedly and still turns to for inspiration.
“I always make a point of remembering the first time I came here, my first day. It’s important to give new employees the opportunity to learn and develop. Install curiosity – what do you think, how do you look at the work and what do you have to do to get quality and reach positive results. The answer is always to never cut corners but to make sure you do it right. That attitude has not changed, that has remained the same.”
And whilst attitude may not have changed, logistics and capacity have. The yard has grown from having two projects on the go, to a current average of 10. A serious change and growth over time that is not without challenge.
“There are quite simply more people at the yard. We are five times bigger than when I joined so you are not working with the same people each time. You have to do everything you can to build up the team and to make sure the team is working well together. In such a way that they will come to you and address a problem if it arises so you can strive to solve it together. Of course mistakes can be made but that is what people learn from. There will always be challenges but it’s how we handle them that matters.”
Leading the build of the first of a new design comes with additional complexities such as the added pressure of knowing that all learnings and findings are needed to feed back into the series. It would therefore be easy to approach this build with a very practical perspective. Ignoring the emotion and focussing purely on operations and targets. A notion that Romke quickly dismisses.
“It goes beyond making money, above making the deadline. If the human part, the people aspect, is working well, the project will run smoothly and the financials and quality will follow as a result. I guess we really only know if we succeeded fully when the second, third and fourth hull are also successful. But focussing on the goals with this build, it’s much more people driven. You want the customer to be happy. You want your team to be happy. You want to be stood together at the Naming Ceremony with your team saying we did this together, this was teamwork, the moment the champagne bottle hits the hull.”
And getting to that moment will come quickly. Set for delivery in 2025, the Amels 80 continues the Limited Editions promise of fast delivery. A trait proven over the years and through the legacy of over 40 Amels Limited Editions delivered to date. But still, by no means easy.
“You cannot ignore the fact that you are not just building one boat. You have to build a lot of them. So you need to give more thought, more focus, more attention to the qualities. The concept of the boat needs to be a workable platform in the future. You have to convince your entire team so they are well aware of that. Every single detail is scrutinised and checked twice. At the same time you need to think practically of your other goal to build and deliver one boat for one Owner. Something unique and special for them that meets their dream and vision. That means that sometimes you have to go back to the design process to make it work.”
Making it work is exactly what motivates Romke through every step of the build. Not just with the project team but also with production, co-makers, crew and of course the client team as well.
“You have to look for partners who may not be the cheapest, but who are the best. The best for the platform. On top of going for top quality and the best technology, you have to go for the best team, the best people. You need to know what you are getting into and decide what you are willing and not willing to do. I like proven technology and making sure that the platform is correct, that the foundation is correct. There also have to be elements of give and take with the Owner’s team. Have the same goal even if you are on different sides. I sometimes say to the Owner’s Rep: Every great Project Manager has a can of oil on his desk. If my can of oil is empty, then it needs to be filled. Give and take. That’s how I try to work so as not to get stuck in details.”
As the Amels 80 now moves into this next phase of her build, evolving from concept to reality and turning the details into the Client’s dreams, we have the chance to look deep into the DNA that flows through this new 80-metre. Listening to Romke it’s clear, that like all best in class, this is a build whose DNA dates back through legacies, thrives on learning and will continue to grow. But what makes the real difference is that this is a build at the heart of which are the people.
“I pour my heart and soul into my work. It’s the only way I can work: fully committed with all I have. I can’t wait to get on board and most importantly get the team on board. Working together to watch the Amels 80 grow.”