Saffier Maritiem BV is a family business of the Hennevanger Brothers. Richard, the father, owned a shipyard in Australia, sold the company and returned to the Netherlands to build a yacht for himself. With this yacht, the family Hennevanger sailed around the world for eight years. Back in the Netherlands, Richard found a job in boat construction. For the first few years he worked mainly in shipping and fishery. In the late1980s he shifted his activities increasingly towards the construction of yachts. His sons, Dennis and Dean, took over the company in the mid-90s. In the meantime, Saffier Maritiem had developed into a full-fledged shipyard.
A shipyard like Saffier Maritiem does not just happen out of the blue. For its origins we have to go back to the mid fifties. With the help of his father, Richard Hennevanger bought his first boat, the Rainbow,
at the age of twelve. In fact, it could barely be called a boat, because the Rainbow looked more or less like a pile of wreckage. Nonetheless, Richard and his father believed in this boat and after a lot of blood, sweat, and tears they turned it into a beautiful boat, truly a rainbow! While they were sailing in the IJmuiden estuary one day, they were spotted by a coaster. The captain of the coaster fell in love with the Rainbow and bought the boat on the spot. The Rainbow was hoisted aboard; father and son were paid and brought ashore. Richard had caught the sailing virus and would never be cured. After his service in 1961, he decided to move to Australia with his wife. Soon after, Richard Hennevanger started his own shipyard.
It was a blossoming business and in the mid-60s he had fifteen people working there who produced approximately 40 yachts per year. The sailing boat Santana was a cabin sailing yacht of 9.50 and 11 metres in size.
In the meantime, he often worked with designers on special yachts that were over 12 metres in length.
He was particularly inspired by Bob Miller who would later change his name to Ben Lexcen (and who subsequently created the famous Australia 2 with a winged keel, with which he won the America cup for the first time as a non-American). Together with Bob Miller they designed a new boat with which he wanted to fulfil his next dream:
to sail around the world with his family.
Sail around the world
In 1972 the family sold everything they owned in Australia and decided to build yachts in the Netherlands. Richard and his wife moved to their homeland with their sons Dennis and Dean, who were born in Sydney, and were at that stage 7 and 4 years old. By that time Dennis and Dean were both good sailors and Dennis had already competed in his first junior sailing competition in the bay of Sydney. The yacht, a 16 metre ketch named the Spirit of Sydney, was built in the record time of one year. During the following eight years the family Hennevanger sailed around the world on the Spirit of Sydney. Dennis and Dean came into contact with many different cultures, developing an extensive general knowledge. Mother Hennevanger taught them reading and writing. Meanwhile, Dennis and Dean playfully learnt all aspects of sailing on the Spirit of Sydney. In 1980 the family decided to sell the Spirit of Sydney and to return to Holland. By that time, both boys could sail, moor and navigate the boat blindfolded.
Back in Holland, Richard started a new shipyard. Dennis was being trained as a mate while Dean studied naval engineering. Dennis also completely immersed himself in a new water sport: windsurfing. Between 1980 and 1985 he won the Dutch Championship three times and the European Surfing Championship twice. It was an excellent way of showcasing his talent. After Dean had finished his training, he started working for his father and immediately began to build his first boat. The 9 metre-long catamaran named “Hotlegs” Dee was sailing the waters of the IJsselmeer one year later where Dean scared the living daylights out of many a sailor by screaming past at over 20 knots!
When his surfing madness had abated, Dennis, who still had not had enough of travelling, worked as captain on various large yachts on the Mediterranean sea.
In 1991 Dennis also joined his father’s company that was producing rescue vessels at the time. They also created one-off yachts varying from 30 to 46 ft for private individuals. It was slowly becoming apparent in the 1990s that the two brothers would eventually take over the company together. Both desired to have their own product, and Hennevanger senior started drawing. The construction of a seaworthy open sailing vessel of 6.50 metres became a reality in September 1997. The first boat was completed at the beginning of January the following year and could be tested in a trial run. The first trial voyage was undertaken at 15 degrees below zero in a strong wind of 7 on the Beaufort scale. It was not a pleasant experience but the open sailing boat, which in the meantime had been named ‘Saffier’, withstood the test. It was entered for the HISWA where it received overwhelming attention. At the HISWA several orders were placed for the Saffier and construction was started. Because of the family’s combined experience the Hennevangers kept their cool and in one year were able to produce and deliver 18 perfectly finished Saffiers to their clients. The delegation of roles within the family became evident: the more extroverted Dennis assumed responsibility for sales and Dean took care of the technical production.
In 1999 Dennis showed a water sports journalist what the Saffier 6.50 was really capable of. With a south-westerly force 7 wind they crossed over from IJmuiden to Lowestoft, a distance of 110 miles.
The Saffier reached the other shore without any problem, thus proving her seaworthiness.
In 2001 the two brothers decided it was time for a follow-up. Naturally father had to create the new design. A year later the Saffier 8.00 became a reality. The Hennevanger experience can be recognized in this vessel as well. The media also noticed that and in 2003 the Saffier 8.00 was nominated as Boat of the Year. With only a difference of 1 point from the winner (max fun35) she was placed second. Soon afterwards the Saffier 8.00 was nominated as European Boat of the Year 2004. Unfortunately the Hennevangers had to pass up this opportunity due to numerous orders and they clearly chose to put their customers first. At the end of 2004 they nonetheless started yet another new design: the Saffier 32 ft. Boats were already being bought from the drawings and building could commence forthwith.
In the meantime the 100th Saffier 6.50 left the shipyard in 2005.
The Saffier was slowly gaining international recognition and the first Saffiers were being delivered all over Europe.
Saffiers were also sold in America and the Caribbean for the first time.
While the building of Saffiers escalated, the shipyard, that in the meantime had been named Saffier Maritiem, remained loyal to one business aspect. The yard continued to work for KNRM, the pilotage-authonty and professional shipping in general, and with that strengthened their financial position while limiting their risks.
In December 2005 the first Saffier 32 was launched, followed by a trial voyage period of six weeks. Only then would the Hennevangers be a hundred percent satisfied.
In the Fall of 2007 a new design is ready, the Saffier Se 26 open daysailer, this time designed by all three of the Hennevangers. This Yacht will proof to be a turning point for the Saffieryachts brand; From day one the Se 26 attracts huge media attention resulting in winning the highly prestige European of the Year Yacht contest 2009. The revolutionary design, which enable any one to sail comfortable all by itself attracts from the very first drawings customers who realize the potential of this daysailer. Effortlessy sailing is the key for lots of people and the se 26 provids all of this and together with her stunning looks and performance she is a total hit.
For the yard this means a subtantial growth. Internationaly they get more and more foot on the ground and the 2 brothers manage to keep to their first ever promise; build their Saffiers the best way they can.
2010 There is a new design, this time totally designed by Dean Hennevanger, The Se 23 daysailer. Dennis does all they extensive tested on their homewaters in rough Northsea and give signal green to show her for the first time on the famous Dusseldorf boatshow. An absolute eyecatcher the Se 23 wins again the European yacht of the year contest 2011 and the Dutch award Hiswa Yacht of the year 2011. Never before has a Dutch yard recieved 2 times a European yacht of the year award and sales continue to rise.
Expanding their market the brothers surge for trustworhty relaible partners who know there waters and customers in other countries. This result in a fine network where every customers can talk in his own words and culture to his Saffier representive in his or her country.
The Sc 10m is the next design of Dean Hennevanger and again straight from the drwaings 6 are sold. The timeless classic lines with all the modren qualities of the deck and cockpit layout are the ultimate for anybody who trully loves sailing.
Both brothers are active in sailing to this day. Dean likes to sail with his family in a Saffier 8.00. Dennis is often to be found in sailing competitions. By remaining actively involved they are on the alert for new developments that may possibly be adapted for the Saffiers.
In this way every Saffier is a modern yacht to which the latest innovations have been applied.