Seating with Rose Damen, Commercial Director of Damen’s yachting division – which includes Amels, Damen Yacht Support and SeaXplorer, is above all looking in the eyes of the future of the superyacht industry. With her fresh mind and her bright ideas, she brings a new point of view in this very masculine and traditional world. Very involved in the day-to-day business since she joined the company in 2015, the daughter of Damen Chairman, Kommer Damen, is undoubtedly one of the next young leaders that will make the history of yachting during the 21st century. While the relationships between Imperial and Amels have never been so strong, with more than 8 superyachts jointly delivered since 2009, from 52 to 67m length, and including 55m LILI launched in 2017, Rose Damen positively replied to our request to seat with us for an enthusiast interview. Her overview on the market, the Amels position in the yachting industry and her best tips for your next superyacht charter journey: a refreshing moment we are pleased to share with you below with one of the strongest woman in the superyacht world.
Imperial: Rose, what’s your role at Amels?
Rose Damen: Damen’s Yachting Division comprises Amels and also Yacht Support and SeaXplorer. I moved to Yachting from our Naval Division because it’s relatively autonomous. It means I basically lead my own division now. We’re about two hours away from our Head Office so I don’t bump into my father and brother every day and I can enjoy the freedom to do my own thing – and because I’m involved in the operational side as well as the commercial side, my involvement doesn’t stop when I sign the contracts. I stay directly involved with the project management and the client, all the way to the end of the project and even thereafter. It’s very important to look after our clients once they leave the shipyard – and we have a worldwide Damen service network in more than 50 countries to help achieve that.
IY: As a woman in a pivotal position, are you able to bring a fresh perspective to the male-dominated yacht construction industry?
RD: When I started here, most people around me were male and a little bit older, but being eager to learn and unafraid of taking new steps has really helped me. The fact that I have a background in finance as well as shipbuilding has also enabled me to bring a new and relevant set of skills to the table. And I’m also a strong believer in diversity. But when I say ‘diversity’, I don’t just mean in terms of men and women. I mean in terms of professional background and nationality. We have people from Spain, Romania, Poland, Germany, all over the world – and it’s that kind of diversity that makes a team strong.
IY: Is it also that kind of diversity that makes Amels so effective?
RD: Yes, that’s part of it. People here are very passionate about what they do. Many of our employees have been working for us for a long time – some for more than 25 years and quite a few for more than 40 years. So there is a real loyalty in our company culture. The know-how of the wider Damen Group also helps. We spend a lot of time and money on research and development and that’s for all our divisions, including yacht construction. We actively encourage the rotation of our people throughout the group to help learn new things that they can bring back to their respective areas.
IY: So how does your collaboration with Imperial work?
RD: We’ve delivered eight vessels together since 2009, so Imperial is an extremely important partner for us. BEL ABRI was our first joint project and the most recent was LILI (the most customised 180 Limited Edition vessel ever delivered by Amels). The Imperial team is continually at the yard, the communication is excellent, we know each other well and we trust each other completely. So far, all the projects we’ve delivered together have been on time and on budget – and what strikes me about working with the Imperial team is that there is a similarly passionate level of involvement. Everything is very well organised and the client gets a lot of assistance and advice at every level, from basic materials to tenders and marketing. Like me, Mr Kochman is very much involved from day one, right through the life cycle of a yacht, so there’s a very natural fit between our companies.
IY: Which of your yachts gives you the greatest pride?
RD: Personally, I love EVENT (the very first of the Amels 199 Limited Editions range). That’s a project we delivered with Imperial in 2013. Some people call her a “Marmite Boat”, because the external design is so different. But it’s Tim Heywood, it’s special, it stands out and it’s very Amels. So many people know her, so many people admire her and she might be different but I think she’s beautiful. I’m also proud of LILI, our most recent delivery with Imperial, because the layout is so special. The owner’s cabin is actually on the bridge deck with a beautiful view and a private terrace and I love to spend time on board.
IY: What for you is the key appeal of a charter holiday?
RD: For me it’s just about undisturbed quality time with friends and family. You don’t have to worry about anything, you can do whatever you like and while there’s certainly a lot of privacy, you always have your nearest and dearest close by.
IY: So what makes a great charter yacht?
RD: In the first instance, it needs to be a yacht without any headaches. But having chartered one of our 55-metre yachts last summer with my family, I have to say that the crew is also really important. You can build a brilliant yacht but it’s really 50:50 – the quality of the yacht and the quality of the crew. Those two things go hand-in-hand and if the food or the service isn’t quite up to standard, it’s not as enjoyable. But I have to admit, we also have a yacht ourselves. It’s only 65 feet and my Dad is the Captain and we, as kids, are the crew. It’s a sailing boat of course and it’s a much more basic experience than a superyacht charter but we love it because it brings such a sense of freedom.
IY: What’s your favourite charter destination?
RD: For a tropical area, I would definitely say the Bahamas, because the water is so crystal clear, with so many contrasting shades of blue. There’s also so much to do, from fun destinations to private islands – but actually, my favourite cruising area is the Inside Passage, from Alaska to Canada. It’s the wilderness, the wildlife. You can get really close to the islands and see some amazing variations in the landscapes. If you start in Gletsjer Bay and cruise south towards Vancouver, you can take in some beautiful green islands, with bears and salmon and lots of whales and dolphins. It’s really quite stunning and the privacy is also wonderful.
IY: What kinds of on board toy do you most enjoy?
RD: I dived on a submarine earlier this year for the first time. We went down to more than 100 metres and it’s just so thrilling to see what’s going on. It’s completely dark and unexplored. It feels like a real adventure – and if you’re spending time on the water, why not explore what life is like below the surface? There are still a lot of exciting things to be seen out there.
IY: What kinds of design feature do you expect to see emerging on charter yachts in the next ten years?
RD: I think what we will see in both the charter industry and the general yacht market is a greater focus on active lifestyles. You will find that charter clients want to go off the beaten track in remote destinations and explore in a more active way. One of the projects we did with Imperial was Support Vessel 6711 and that adds a huge amount of value to the yachting experience. You can have submarines on board, large tenders, helicopters and small seaplanes – so I think that exploring our surroundings in a more active way is definitely going to shape the future.
Rose Damen portrait and renderings by courtsey of Amels.