Boat Builder Awards highlights importance of innovation, environment, and talent

Tom Slikkers

Nov 24, 2021

Tom Slikkers, president and CEO of Tiara Yachts, accepted the award from IBI’s publishing director Nick Hopkinson on behalf of his father

This year’s Boat Builder Awards for Business Achievement, jointly organised by IBI and METSTRADE and held in association with Raymarine, saw Leon Slikkers honoured for Lifetime Achievement, Elan Yachts’ Marko Škrbin named as this year’s Rising Star and boatbuilding companies and their supply chain partners praised for achievement in innovation, collaboration, sustainability and marketing.

The seventh edition of the Boat Builder Awards received more than 100 nominations this year, with 21 companies from 11 countries named as finalists, from which seven winners and five Honourable Mentions were named. The awards ceremony was held today, Wednesday 17 November, under the carefully controlled COVID-19 protocol of RAI Amsterdam within METSTRADE.

The Retail Marketing Initiative category, sponsored by Kohler, was won by Princess Yachts for the Princess Yachts Series. This builder encompassed social media, high quality television and virtual events that opened huge access to every level of the company’s operations, greatly expanding audience reach. Ferretti Group received an Honourable Mention for its bold digital marketing campaign positioning yachts as private islands, free from restrictions.

The Innovative Onboard Design Solution category, sponsored by Fusion, saw a close debate over all four entries that resulted in a joint win for the progress made towards mainstream application by Candela Technology’s C-7 and C-8 electric hydrofoils and the brilliantly conceived design of Sunseeker International’s 65 Sport Yacht SkyHelm™.

Each year the entry field in the Environmental Initiative category, sponsored by Confindustria Nautica, gets stronger and 2021 was no exception. Top honours went to Sunreef Yachts for the Sunreef 80 Eco, praised for pushing boundaries in offering emission-free luxury cruising on an attractively designed yacht. An Honourable Mention was given to Brunswick Corporation for its impressive zero-waste to landfill initiatives.

No less than 14 companies were represented in the five entries shortlisted for the Collaborative Solution between Boat or Superyacht Builder and its Supply Chain Partner category, sponsored by Ultraflex. The cohesive iterative development work demonstrated by Excess Catamarans, Torqeedo and ZF to create and improve the Excess 15 hybrid power system won the day. Honourable Mentions were awarded to Azimut Benetti Group, Mive Eco and Hug Engineering for their integrated SCR exhaust system; Benetti Yachts, Siemens Systems and MAN for the B.Yond hybrid power system and emission reduction; and Evo Yachts by Blu Emme Yachts and Besenzoni for the Blu Emme Evo V8’s deck equipment.

The judges were unanimous in the decision to name Marko Škrbin as this year’s Rising Star, sponsored by Lumishore. Marko was praised for his transformative work at Elan Yachts during a rapid ascent through the ranks and appointment as the company’s youngest ever Marine division Director.

It was a similarly popular decision to name 93-year-old founder of Slickcraft, S2, Tiara and Pursuit, Leon Slikkers, as the Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Those present at the award ceremony were given a flavour of Leon’s extraordinary 75-year career with its laser focus on design, innovation, and quality, right up to his recent retirement. He joins an impressive and growing Boat Builder Awards hall of fame.

IBI Editor and chair of the Boat Builder Awards judges, Ed Slack, commented: “The very demanding times of the past 18 months have seen boatbuilders and their supply chains swing rapidly from shut down to fully committed production. Despite the huge workload of that alone, this edition of the Boat Builder Awards saw evidence of maintained progress on the industry’s key priorities, from environment, accessibility and innovation to talent recognition and development. Leon Slikkers’ relentless pursuit of the perfect boat throughout his three-quarters of a century of progress is a motivation in common with much of what we saw in the entries this year.

“We also owe particular thanks in 2021 to those who made the Boat Builder Awards happen this year, from the sponsors to the nominees. It’s not been the easiest time for anyone as we have variously transitioned in and out of restrictions around the world. It is important to consistently recognise achievement within boat and superyacht builders and their supply chains and we look forward to an even stronger set of nominations in 2022 as the industry continues to grow off the face of the current popularity wave.”


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