The Night Before METS: Accidental Sub Design, Egg Boats, and More…

On November 13, 2017, Vripack will host its annual Pecha Kucha for boat designers in Amsterdam. Taking place the evening before METS (Marine Equipment Trade Show), the event will mark its sixth consecutive year.

If you’re not familiar with Pecha Kucha, here’s how it works: Each presenter must follow the same format—20 slides with 20 seconds on each. The brisk pace means that a poor presenter will be done shortly, and an exceptional one will be done too soon.

Also nice, the show is free. But be sure to register as the venue can fill up fast. Say you’ll be there at

In anticipation of this year’s program, let’s take a look at some highlights from the past.

2016: The Accidental Submarine Designer

How many new boat designs are the result of someone needing a boat and not being able to find just the right one? Daan Pol is an avid scuba diver, and he and a friend wanted to search for sunken treasure on shipwrecks, which are mostly found in shallow water.

“They’re easy to reach so we thought let’s see if we can get our hands on a submarine,” said Pol. But the submarines they found were too big, too expensive, and their hatches didn’t open in the water.

They eventually found a design never built called Sleeping Beauty (its designer’s other achievements included being the model for the character Q in the James Bond films). A report on that design provided a free prototype, helpfully telling them everything that was wrong with it. They fixed those problems, as well as other issues that came up, and are continuously refining the design. As of last November, they’ve already sold one.

2015: The Light Stuff

“I have a dream, maybe you have already heard this phrase somewhere else,” began Claudio Zimerino, lighting designer and potential stand-up comedian. “I would like to become first in a project because I am very upset by lighting design.”

Though nominally for boat designers, in the last couple years the show’s focus has expanded to presenters outside the marine industry with ideas and concepts that can be surprisingly inspiring. Zimerino’s combination of passion and dry humor made for a memorable presentation. He also made a solid case for the importance of lighting in design.

2014: Hammer Time

Donald MacPherson is an engineer who works with CAD and computational models. He asked the audience to consider that just because you have certain tools on hand, does not mean they are the right tools. A tool may not be precise enough, but it also may be too precise.

“So why don’t we always use the highest order tools?” he asked. “The biggest problem is that we often get different outcomes.”

MacPherson started by getting the audience to sing along. “If I had a hammer, I’d hammer in the morning,” which was an entertaining way to illustrate his point. “Just because you have a hammer does not mean you must use it.”

2013: “We’ve Created a Monster”

I think it’s safe to assume that Peter Baker’s presentation of how he turned his drawing of an egg into a boat is something you won’t see elsewhere.

Baker bought a big dose of personality to his presentation, as he talked about fitting out the interior of a sphere, making sure the egg had enough ballast so it didn’t spin like a top, and finding reclaimed objects to be repurposed into the boat. One such object was a mast that broke on a boat he was racing against.

“I actually watched the mast break,” he said. “’I’ll have that!’ I thought. ‘That’ll go in the egg.”’

Another problem was putting the two halves together to form the egg. Pointing to the front end, shown in a slide, Baker said, “When that thing went together I looked at it and said, ‘We’ve created a monster,’ and it is.” Judge for yourself.

2012: Trend-Spotting

The first year the event was held in Amsterdam was also the launch of Vrithink! by Vripack. In his presentation, Marnix Hoekstra explained how the firm’s designers identified trends from outside yachting world. Though the effort included world travel, post-it notes, and even some pub-hopping, the designers took the task seriously, incorporating what they saw into designs for their clients.

Those trends included renewables, 3D printing, and what he called, “wandering”—the desire to go far from the crowds. That trend came up when a client complained that the Northwest Passage was getting too crowded. Vripack designed a yacht that could last on its own power for up to six months at a stretch, so he could really get away from it all.

2011: Rethinking a Cruising Catamaran

So this year is actually the seventh boat design Pecha Kucha. The first was not held in Amsterdam but during IBEX in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2011. The video quality is not as slick, but the presenters were all industry experts, and may sound familiar. They included our very own editor-at-large, Dan Spurr, as well as authors Eric Sponberg, Steve Clark, and Albert Nazarov.

Nazarov, the founder of Albatross Marine Design in Thailand, is an authority on power catamarans. Though it may be a few years old, his presentation, Rethinking a Cruising Catamaran, is well worth watching.

View a complete list of clips for the first year presenters here. Also, check out Vripack’s Youtube channel for more videos.

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