Cruising along

The boating industry in Germany is significant, with a boat ownership per capita ratio of 1:108. The country’s selection of beautiful lakes and waterways, and its coastlines along the Baltic Sea and North Sea mean its population is ideally located to enjoy both boat racing and more leisurely water pursuits. Low taxes are instrumental in helping the industry to thrive.

Knierim Yachtbau, a German specialist vessel construction business, is at the heart of this exciting sector. Founded by Günter Knierim in 1965 and based in Laboe along the Kiel Fjord, the company has grown in reputation and size over the years and today engages in projects with clients from around the world. After Günter’s son, Gunnar, took over the company in 2000 the yard began producing high tech composite yachts. These are done under the direction of Steffen Müller and Gunnar, both personally experienced in the construction of regatta yachts. Furthermore both have long had involvement in international yacht racing meaning they have experience as end-users too.

The company was originally named Knierim Yacht-und Bootswerft but changed its name to Knierim Yachtbau after Gunnar’s takeover. It was at this time that the company began offering a wider range of products and services too, including boat construction and repair, varnishing, deck equipment, master plug tooling and winter storage for vessels. The company’s slogan, ‘Individual Yachts’, displays the company’s building philosophy. It offers clients and customers tailor-made products built exactly to specification. Whether wood or fibreglass, sail- or motor-powered, Knierim’s staff have considerable expertise in utilising steel frame keels and keel bombs to construct high quality racing and leisure vessels. Cutting edge sandwich hulling techniques are utilised to give its yachts maximum stability with minimum weight. All of its vessels are constructed at the company’s 2000 square metre shipyard set on the south side of the Kiel Canal, near Holtenau Watergate.

One of the company’s most recent projects in its construction shed is the 31-metre, 85 metric ton Tûranor PlanetSolar, a fully solar-powered catamaran that set to travel around the world. Working in co-operation with New Zealand naval architecture company LOMOcean Design, Knierim undertook the construction of this 12.5 million euro yacht that will be used to promote the cause of sustainable energy. It will circumnavigate the globe at a calculated average speed of seven knots, and though it is capable of carrying up to 200 people, can achieve speeds of up to 14 knots.

Other successful projects that Knierim has been involved in include: the company’s first commission, the 86’ high performance ocean racer UCA, which was built for and won the 2003 Daimler-Chrysler North Atlantic Challenge; the first German yacht to compete in the America’s Cup race, Germany 1; and the signature Knierim P33, a ten-metre racing yacht that has been designed to have cutting edge performance, sailing at an average of 7.2 knots during its test run on calm waters.

Adjoining the company’s building yard is a former paper storage hall now used for the company’s winter storage service. This 6000 square metre building is able to house yachts up to seven metres wide and eight metres tall in an environment heated to at least seven degrees Celsius. Knierim offers mast take down and storage facilities as well as boat maintenance throughout the storage period. To ensure yard safety the company also employs an external security service.

Knierim can do customer repairs and refits as well, where it handles everything from the insurance process to applying the finish, and will refit vessels with cutting edge devices to improve performance. Varnishing and paint jobs are handled in the company’s dedicated paint shop where it is able to work with boats of up to 90 feet in length.

There is also a dedicated tooling service using five-axis milling cutters to produce moulds for deck equipment that include racks, radar masts, outer skin doors, elaborate deck furniture and pool areas. Knierim also uses these machines to manufacture moulds that are used by the wind power industry – for example rotor blades – as well as clients in the automobile sector where it provides components to the Hawks Racing team, and is even able to aid in the creation of artistic projects.

The company’s future looks to be a bright and exciting one. It has recently added a number of vessels to its portfolio that have been produced for private ownership, ensuring its continuing success in the leisure market. These boats include the B60 II, a sailing yacht that can be operated by as few as one or two persons, the 17.5 metric ton yacht Nordic Falcon, and the traditionally styled Classic 33’, which is a motor-powered leisure cruiser designed by Bremen-based design company judel/vroljk. With a legacy of high quality designs and its involvement in a number of high profile projects, Knierim looks certain to remain a leading name in the yachting industry.

Creates tailor-made high tech yachts

Built the large solar-powered vessel, PlanetSolar

Offers a range of other related services