RICUS VAN DE STADT: A PIONEER
In the thirties, the door manufacturer Bruynzeel of Zaandam, The Netherlands, developed a superior form of plywood. Bruynzeel was of the opinion that his 'hechthout' (plywood) as he called it, was superbly suited as building material for sailing yachts. The naval architect Ricus van de Stadt, known to Bruynzeel through the sailing fraternity, received the order to design a daysailer suitable for series production. in 1939 the VALK came into being, still a popular open sailing boat in the Netherlands today. The 'hechthout' from Bruynzeel was eminently suitable. After 65 years there are still Valks sailing from the first production series. (See the website of the Dutch Valk class association at http://www.valkenklasse.nl)
This established Van de Stadt as an innovative yacht designer open for new building methods and material.
He used his hydrodynamic knowledge to design a spade rudder in combination with a fin keel and trim tab. He applied this design to a 12 metre ocean racer: the ZEEVALK which was also constructed of plywood. This light construction proved his design philosophy once and for all. Designers of repute over the whole world only took hesitantly to his ideas years later.
His experience with the new material brought him to the design of good sailing yachts for self-building. The first plans were sold in 1952.
The poineer Van de Stadt kept searching for new developments. In 1955 he designed Europe's first series-built cruising yacht to apply the new material of glass-fibre reinforced polyester (GRP). It was the 30 foot PIONIER, and it became a worldwide success. The first maxi also came from Van de Stadt's drawing board. The 70 foot STORMVOGEL emerged in 1960 and was feared by other ocean racers the world over.
In 1978 Van de Stadt withdrew and handed the torch on to a design team that continued in his spirit; always in search of new developments.