Shipyard Luyt has been able to build many different boats over the years, but Mark Slats’ task was a very special one. An ocean rowing boat of more than 13.5 meters, made of aluminum, and in which eight people can row and sleep. And the name says it all: you have to be able to navigate the ocean with it. Dick Koopmans from Den Oever was commissioned to do the design.

Dick Koopmans in the huge ocean rowboat – NH News/Kelly Blok

Dick Koopmans has years of experience as a boat designer and first came into contact with Wassenaar’s Mark Slats about six years ago. You can call him a true adventurer, who is always looking for extreme challenges. He did it in 2019, for example: Slats went around the world in just 214 days.

And Slats might turn to Dick for a good boat or advice, he soon realized. One of their first meetings was also immediately memorable, says Dick: “He called me on Tuesday if he could go to Scotland by boat on Wednesday night at four o’clock. And then we also had to go to London for a while, without I knew, because a rowboat was still under construction there. That’s typical of Mark.”

Dick was also allowed to design a boat for Mark a bit later, because the adventurer noticed that his current boat had some flaws. “I had so much going on that I thought: This boat is just no good, we can do better. Then I teamed up with Dick again and we started designing a boat.”

more and more popular

But he did not stop with a ship. Thanks to the Maria, the boat that Dick designed for Mark, more and more people want such a boat. Mark has already sold five Dick-designed boats with his The Ocean Rowing Company. And there’s more to come: “We’re going to build another ten soon,” says Mark.

Therefore, there is a lot of demand, so Mark even decided not to continue his contracting business, but to focus entirely on shipbuilding. According to Mark, the reason why people are increasingly looking for these extreme sports is simple: “People are more and more looking for limits and adventure. In the past, only the rich climbed Everest, but nowadays everyone world can do it,” explains Listones.

“I think anyone can paddle that ocean with the right preparation,” continues Slats, “and that’s also reflected in the entry list for the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Race, a race from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean. participating and the eldest is 78 years old. With a little hard work, looking for sponsors and a team, it can be done.”

“There is nothing dangerous on that ship at sea, I see much more danger in everyday life”

Mark Slats, ocean rower

According to the adventurer, with good preparation you can easily survive more than 200 days alone in the sea. Mark gets up for three hours and then rests for an hour. He only eats freeze-dried food and has no contact with the outside world. That gives it a kick.

And the dangers, according to Mark, are hardly any. “The training sessions you do before the race are the most dangerous, on the bike for example. If you drive 180 km, a car almost kills you five times. There is nothing dangerous in that boat at sea. There are two rules: your hatches are always down and always on a leash. And a ship like that doesn’t sink. I see much more danger in everyday life.”

The text continues below the photo.

Mark Slats with the boat Maria in a big wave – NH News / Kelly Blok

The duo are now busy with a new project for a Scottish company, but the ship is being built in Den Oever. The men at Scheepswerf Luyt have been busy in recent weeks building a nearly 14 meter long aluminum ocean-going rowing boat, which was designed by Dick.

“This boat will soon be used as a business model for schools, so that children can sail it. But also to participate in the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Race,” says Dick. But initially she will be sailing in Scottish waters and there must be room for eight people on board.

Dick had to take these requirements into account in his design. The owner opts for aluminum instead of carbon, which is what is usually used. “This means the boat can withstand anything. In Scotland, all the beaches have rocks and boulders. Aluminum can make a dent, but never a hole,” Dick explains, “Only downside: in cold areas, it’s also within places to sleep.” very cold.”

It’s hard to imagine, but the rowers will sleep in this aluminum box (text continues below):

The room where rowers can sleep – NH News / Kelly Blok

For Luyt it is the first time they have been allowed to make an ocean rowing boat. The director Jacoline Luyt finds it very special that her company was commissioned to assemble this almost 14-meter-long boat. “A kind of aluminum construction kit arrives and after a few weeks there is a boat, which for us is very beautiful to see,” she says.

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Ocean Rowing Boat Design – Dick Koopmans

And for Dick it is also an advantage that this project is being carried out in his own town. The previous project was in Poland, which was really a drama. I can walk here. The first week I came almost every day,” he says proudly.

And it wasn’t just Dick who often came to see the work. The 13.5-meter-long rowing boat also attracted a lot of attention from curious neighbors. “You often see someone take a look inside,” says Jacoline Luyt.

water generator

The work is already done for Luyt: all the pieces are welded together. “Now I have to go to work,” laughs Mark. Because even more is needed before the ocean rowing boat can go to Scotland in a container. “Now you have to install the electronics, like the compasses, but also a watermaker and solar panels,” says Dick. All this is necessary to survive hundreds of days at sea.

Once everything is installed, it’s time for the first test. In the port of Den Oever, this one-meter ship will receive its first baptism. “And that’s always still exciting. Even when you’re browsing, does it do exactly what you thought it would? But I’m sure it will work,” says Dick.

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