“When I used to go boating in the 50s, children used to use very simple boats made of bamboo wood, while today, even for the youngest, parents want to use super-technological boats. But it’s the passion that counts. If there is, as in my case, even a broken wooden board is enough to have fun sailing”.
In this exclusive interview (in English but subtitled in Italian), in the events area of Milan Yachting Week, Michael Schmidt, former founder of Hanse and now head of Y Yachts, tells his story. From his beginnings as a yachtsman and from the (almost) Olympics as a sportsman to his planetary success as an entrepreneur. An interview not to be missed.
Michael Schmidt, born in Kiel in 1948, is one of the greatest protagonists of yachting in the last 30 years. First a yachtsman and racer, protagonist of the German challenges at the Admiral’s Cup in the 80’s, then manager and boat builder, founder of a world colossus like Hanse, and then again creator of a “visionary” brand like Y Yachts. Michael Schmidt’s story is that of a man who has managed to combine passion and business in his work.
At the end of the 80’s he smells the positive moment after the fall of the Berlin Wall and in what had been East Germany, in Greifswald to be precise, he founded in 1990, in an old warehouse, the Hanse shipyard. Initially the shipyard was mainly involved in repairs, but soon the outlook changed. His goal is clear: the pure cruise boats up to that point were slow and sometimes not very up to date.
Schmidt wants to propose something new, not racing boats, but comfortable models that sail very well, but only if they are cheap. To do this, he needed a model of industrial production and innovative designers: the choice fell on two names that would soon become important: Friedrich Judel and Rolf Vrolijk. He bought moulds from a bankrupt Swedish shipyard, Rex Marin, and produced the Hanse 291, which was to be a success at the 1994 Hamburg Motor Show. The foundation stone of a construction site that will become a colossus.
In 2011 Schmidt decides to leave and sell Hanse, but he has something new in mind, he does not intend to stop. He wants to continue to produce boats, but this time not worrying about the market, or rather, not having the market as his main focus. He simply wants to produce his boats, the ones he likes, boats with a very refined design, with unconventional, fast, luxurious stylistic touches.
The 80 foot Cool Breeze, designed by Brenta Design, is the first boat produced, in 2015, by Michael Schmidt’s new shipyard.
Thus was born the Y Yachts, which in these early years has had among its protagonists designers such as Lorenzo Argento and Luca Brenta. A brand outside the box, which will not stop surprising us also in the coming years. Boats that will carry the DNA of Michael Schmidt: a bit racing, a bit visionary; an imaginative yachtsmen.
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