Frank Mulder receives lifetime achievement award.

Dutch naval architect and yacht designer Frank Mulder was presented with the 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award. It was made during a Design and Innovation Awards program. In making the award the judges noted the breadth and scope of his designs. And his skill as designing exceptional yachts in all construction materials.

After earning his degree from the prestigious Haarlem University, Mulder landed a spot as a production manager at Amels Shipyard in 1974. Soon after that he moved to Damen Group. There he was in charge of the high-speed vessel program for military and commercial ships.

Naval architect for Damen

Frank Mulder’s professional background began with working in a shipyard Amels. There, his “office” was a niche in the wall of a construction shed. And his first job out of university in 1974 was as Assistant Yard Manager scheduling production. Two years later he was offered a post as a naval architect by Damen. And he was made head of its high-speed division for military and commercial craft. Three years after that, he made the brash decision at age 28 to quit the safety of a career at Damen. He opened his own studio. That type of “sink or swim” decision is characteristic of Frank Mulder.

The yacht that brought him global attention came one years later. Octopussy, built for US auto dealer John Staluppi. 

Octopussy, was not the first superyacht Frank Mulder had designed.  He had already done six yachts at Heesen when Octopussy began in 1989. His studio was doing navy and customs boats for Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong when Frans Heesen called in 1984 and asked for help on a small job. Then came an order for the Tropic C.

First round bilge, semi-planning yacht

Tropic C was a custom, 36.9m aluminium tri-deck yacht with a fishing cockpit at the stern and a flying bridge. Five staterooms and four crew cabins accommodated 11 guests and 8 crew. Frank Mulder’s first round-bilge semi-displacement yacht, her top speed was 20 knots. This was followed by 34m Wheels in 1987, Mulder’s first round bilge, semi-planning yacht. 

The Octopussy project began with a phone call.  Frank Mulder was  in his office when John Staluppi called him.  Frank Mulder recalls “His first question was, “Can you design a yacht that goes 50 knots?” I was on the spot and I said, “Let me look into this and I will call back soon”. I calles him back after one hour and said: “Yes. I can” John arrived next morning in Amsterdam accompanied by his captain and the same question, could I design a yacht that would go faster than the King of Spain’s Fortuna? It was clear that he wanted a full yacht of 120 to 140 feet and not just a racing boat. He wanted a firm answer in two weeks.”