Tuesday, March 16th, 2021
Albert Hakvoort 1921 – 2021
The Superyacht World has lost one of the guiding lights of the industry. Albert Hakvoort has taken his final voyage and was buried recently in Holland
Albert started work at the family business in 1955 and dedicated his life to helping the yard grow into one of the most renowned premium superyacht builders in the world.
Albert Hakvoort was born in 1921. He went to school and graduated at the age of 15 and chose not to attend University. He choose instead to join the family business in Monnekerdam. Like his father before him, he dedicated his lifetime towards developing the shipyard that proudly bore his family name.
He started working at the yard earning just 10 guilders a week. The yard was already 600 years old when his grandfather bought it in 1919 with his three brothers. It had a long and industrious history of having built a great many ships and boats since the first in 1780. Grandfather died in 1948 and Alberts father took over running the operation, which was running well and always in profit.
Just seven years later disaster struck in 1955 when the family was woken with the news that the shipyard was on fire. Despite the efforts of everyone in the village it went out of control and the whole lot burned down. Not a single building was saved and even worse, the boats partially completed on the slipways were lost at the same time. Very sadly for the family the premises was not insured.
Albert entered national service with the Royal Dutch Navy in September 1959 and served a sailor on a minesweeper working on deck until June 1961
At the time of the fire, Hakvoort had been building fishing vessels from steel. The family’s first job was to clear the debris. They built small sheds to house what little they salvaged in the way of tools and equipment. Because the fire was so widespread and had destroyed some homes of villagers we had to rebuild those as well.
Slowly the family rebuilt the yard and carried on building fishing boats. Then in 1968 a Bahamian gentleman paid them 700,000 guilders to build Storm VI a 28 m motor yacht with a round bilge. It was to be the first of many yachts they yard has built since.
Alberts father and uncle both retired in 1981 just as the fishing boat building market slumped. Undeterred Albert learned how to weld in aluminium and he and his brother began to market the shipyard as yacht builders.
The first yacht they built was the 20 metre Striker called Much Too Much. Theye built the complete boat and launched her in 1982. Halfway through building her, they got orders for more and little by little as they built them they got orders for more.
By 1985 they had expanded the yard to the point that we had three sheds and were employing 45 people.
In 1985 he built Tonga At 31 metres overall she was the first custom yacht he ever built. Her owner trusted no one and he insisted that Albert work on time and materials basis.
Once launched Tonga went onto circumnavigate the world ten times becoming a famous blue water cruising boat and a wonderful advertisement for the work Albert Hakvoort and his team could produce.
Alberts son Klaas came into the business in 1991 and his younger brother Albert joined a year later in 1992. Both had been at technical college here in Holland and both immediately took on project management responsibilities.
Albert Sr. retired handing over the business to his sons after sixty years of service, although he was often seen at the yard sharing his words of wisdom and encouragement.
The fact that Hakvoort Shipyards received the Royal designation in November 2020 was the crowning achievement for a man who did more than anyone to earn the yard this rare honour.
Albert will be remembered as one of the finest characters in the superyacht industry. He was a dry humoured man without airs and graces. He never forgot a face and had a kind word for everyone he met.
His love of boats was matched only by a passion for motorbikes. That began when, at the age of four, he saw the town of Monnickendam liberated by Canadian troops. One of those soldiers rode a Harley and that left a lasting impression on the young Albert.
Half a century later in 1995, Albert bought a Harley Davidson Fat Boy for himself had it fitted with the beamiest handlebars imaginable in gleaming stainless steel and set off for the ultimate road trip across America.
Never flashy Albert was a humble man who took the same warm and kind-hearted approach to billionaire clients and first-year apprentices alike.
Albert Hakvoort Sr will be sorely missed by those of us who knew him. He leaves behind an unrivalled legacy of boatbuilding and a world of friendships and memories and we were proud to have enjoyed his company on several occasions.