Builder Spotlight: Vanquish Yachts
Vanquish was founded to “challenge mainstream orthodoxy in the motoryacht world.”
Tom and Vanja Steentjes are the husband-and-wife team behind Vanquish Yachts USA – a relatively new brand that’s shaking things up from Monaco to Miami. We sat down with them to discuss innovative materials, the challenges of launching a new brand and what they’re bringing to this year’s Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show.
What innovations make Vanquish Yachts unique?
“I’m a welder and engineer by trade. In 2012, I was looking for a 30 to 35-foot sporty day boat made from aluminum, with high-end finishes, and there just wasn’t much on the market. For an aluminum hull, my options were essentially a canal boat or a superyacht, so I decided to build my own vessel. I hired a company to flesh out the details of my design and then I built it by hand. I ended up with a hull that was 25 to 30 percent lighter than fiberglass, and Vanquish Yachts was born.”
“I’ve been working with aluminum since I was 12. It’s an incredible material that performs so much better than fiberglass. It’s much stiffer, so there’s no flexing when you hit waves at high speed. That’s why special forces and emergency boats usually feature aluminum hulls. They’re like tanks in the water.”
Vanquish markets low cost of ownership and high resale value. What elements contribute to this?
“Aside from build quality and materials, we’re very serious about service. I used to make machines for the food industry that needed to run 24/7, with fast service response times, and I took this ethos into yachting. We have dedicated Vanquish service centers in Europe, Ft. Lauderdale and New York. Nothing is outsourced; it’s all factory-approved work. As a boutique manufacturer, we’re very hands-on with captains and owners to help keep every Vanquish well-maintained.”
How has the American market reacted to the brand?
“It was a challenge at first to sell aluminum boats to Americans. Not many people were familiar with it as a boating material, so we faced a steep learning curve. I had to educate clients on the benefits. One big advantage is there are no molds. We can make any shape from aluminum, so it’s easy to customize.”
So is each Vanquish unique?
“Yes, they really are. We can easily change the deck layout, which allows us to create many different variations of the same model. We also build custom yachts to spec with surface drives, water jets and other technologies. After a decade in the market, we need to educate potential buyers less and less. When they experience a Vanquish in sea trials, the vessel sells itself. In fact, even though we now make models from composite materials, clients are asking for aluminum. That’s how much things have changed.”
As a relatively new builder, what challenges have you faced breaking into the market?
“The biggest challenge was being compared to Van Dutch by buyers who aren’t that educated. We may appear vaguely similar, but Vanquish and Van Dutch are very different boats. Glad we are past that challenge in the US market”
What are you bringing to the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show?
“Vanquish Yachts will be at the same dock for our sixth year. We’re bringing a VQ58 and a VQ45, as well as a 40-foot tender. As I mentioned, we have a large service center here and an office on Las Olas, so I consider FLIBS our ‘home’ boat show.”
What is your current flagship model?
“The VQ115 is generating a lot of attention. With 3 x MTU 2,650 HP and surface drives powering it to 50 knots, it’s the fastest superyacht in production with conventional diesel engines. We’re also excited about the VQ80 SportFish, which is an 80-foot hybrid fishing/leisure vessel originally designed as a chase boat for Project SkyFall – the 60-meter superyacht from Hessen. The VQ80 SF has C32B Caterpillars and reached over 50 knots in Dutch sea trials. Our bestselling boats in the U.S. are still the VQ58 and the VQ45.”
It sounds like the American market has really taken to Vanquish.
“Absolutely. America is now one of our biggest markets. We have a large base in Sag Harbor where we support clients, and we moved many vessels to South Florida during the pandemic. I think there are now more than 40 Vanquish Yachts based here in Ft. Lauderdale and 35 in the Hamptons, with several new deliveries slated for fall.”
Do you have any other interesting new builds underway?
“Vanquish has three 115s in production right now, two of which are coming to Miami. I believe the first one will be delivered by next spring.”
Are there any other new production models you want to preview?
“We are building 70-foot T-tops with 2,000 HP, waterjets and very low draft, so they can operate in the shallow waters of the Bahamas. We’re also working on a new 55-foot composite center console with 5 x 600 HP Mercury outboard or inboard diesel engines with waterjets, which will be a big brother to a successful earlier model with triple outboard Mercury 450Rs. We’re also working on several tenders and exploring new materials, like a hybrid fiber made of glass and carbon.”
What is the current build time for a Vanquish?
“To give you an idea of timelines, the VQ115 takes around two-and-a-half years and every boat we’re building right now is made-to-order. We have no time for spec yachts. We’re also building many 40 to 55-foot tenders, as they are perfect for towing behind superyachts.”