REVIEW: LEKKER DAMSKO 750

By: JOHN FORD, Photography by: JOHN FORD

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

‘Lekker’ is Dutch slang for cool, sexy, outstanding and solid. So who better than John Ford to explore this Lekker Damsko 750, a remake of a classic lifeboat?

Lekker Damsko 7

HIGHS

  • Well-engineered and excellent weld and paint finish
  • High level of safety with self-draining deck and positive floatation
  • Sporty ride and handling, impressive performance

LOWS

  • No toilet on open version
  • Needs a mooring or dock (can be towed on an $8000 trailer with oversize flags)

 

REVIEW: LEKKER DAMSKO 750 priced from $140,000

Lekker Damsko 2

Tucked away in a quiet corner of the recent Sydney International Boat Show sat an unusual looking vessel high on an unassuming display. As I struggled to take it in, Meindert Wolfraad approached and asked what I thought.

"It looks like a lifeboat," I offered.

"Well it is, but it can do 47kt and carry 23 passengers," he countered. Welcome to Wolfraad’s world of Lekker Boats and one of the standouts of the show.

Within days we had arranged a test ride on Sydney Harbour where the story of the brand unfolded. On his arrival in Australia in 2009, Mechanical engineer Wolfraad was surprised to find that Sydneysiders lacked the city-style pushbikes so beloved in his former hometown, Amsterdam.

Taking a punt, he imported 20 old-school ‘grandmother’ bikes, which he sold quickly before landing another 200. From there he modified the design, arranged production in China, opened shops in Sydney, Melbourne and Amsterdam and established a dealer network of 150 outlets worldwide. Some 20,000 sales later he was looking for a new project.

Lekker Damsko 1

Always a seafarer, he connected with the harbour boating scene to an extent but was discouraged by the high cost and fuel consumption of big cruisers as well as the impression the luxury interiors lacked the freer socialisation and relaxed party atmosphere he sought.

He decided it was time for something new and again he took inspiration from Holland, where converting old lifeboats to canal cruisers was the rage. But since they’re limited to 6kmh on Amsterdam canals, he knew a different approach would be needed to fire Sydney up.

He gave rough designs to a Dutch naval architect who drew plans for a boat that would suit Australian conditions – longer range, more speed, good economy and a large payload – along with the reassuring safety of a lifeboat.

Since production began a couple of years ago at the Netherlands Bloemsma Aluminiumbouw Superyacht yard, 20 750s have been launched for open waters in Holland, with two of the $250,000, 10-metre versions in production for the Tommy Hilfiger group. At $160,000 for the 750, it’s at the upper end of the market, but hopes are high that the brand will find a following as a perfect harbour party boat or a family fun cruiser.

Lekker Boats proudly recognises its Dutch origins – Damsko is a nickname for Amsterdam, and the Andres Crosses at the bow come from the city’s coat of arms.

Lekker Damsko 3

At its mooring, the vivid white hull floated high on the water, emphasising the 1.45m freeboard and generous buoyancy. Simple lines and clinker styling pressed into the aluminium sides belie a modern hull design with a deep-V entry running to a moderate 19deg deadrise and integrated spray rails to deflect water away from the interior.

A stout 20mm keel defends the bottom from sand and rocks and extends over bow and transom to protect the hull, while a thick rub rail around the perimeter limits damage when docking.

Styling on board is distilled simplicity with purpose. To make space for so many passengers, there’s nothing superfluous and nothing to trip the crew as they move around. Seats along the sides are covered with maroon vinyl cushions and backrests, all Velcroed down and easily removable for storing out of the weather in a cavernous bow hold.

Hatches under the seats store even more equipment, and a central structure forward of the helm has a watertight slide-out drawer. Wolfraad attitude to boating was revealed when he confessed it was engineered on heavy-duty runners to take a 400kg payload of beer and ice. With the drawer open, a hatch cover over the top reveals a deep storage space. Like the seats along the sides, the hatch is thick aluminium plate capable of supporting revellers keen on dancing the night away.

Heavy-duty cleats are stationed each side at the bow, stern and amidships, and an innovative bollard each end has a slit to allow a looped mooring line to be quickly attached.

Lekker Damsko 5

The helm console is a marriage of traditional and contemporary in a minimalist alloy construction that takes little space. A large sailboat-style wheel bestows old grace, but the electronics and sound system are definitely new.

Grab handles run along the sides and over the top where there are also two cup holders with drains, a sealed box for phones, keys and wallets, and a pull-up navigation light. On the side is a hatch with four USB charging points and a 12V plug, and to starboard is a bottle opener so guests don’t use the sharp edge of seat boxes to get to their beer.

Neat analogue instruments angled towards the skipper include rev counter, speedo, trim, fuel, oil pressure and temperature gauges. Lower down are a Zipwake trim control system and a 12in sub-woofer. Six quality speakers around the sides complete an attention-grabbing Jensen sound system.

Behind the helm is a sunlounge with a raised seat for the skipper. A central hatch covers the engine bay and a 4.5L 250hp Mercruiser Sterndrive – options include Mercurys up to 350hp for a top speed of 47kt, or a Volvo Penta 265 DTI diesel.

A bimini folds over the helm to provide excellent sun protection – importantly, it stayed in place at speeds approaching 33kt.

Lekker Damsko 4

Hatches starboard of the engine well house the batteries and a pair of 1000W amps, while to port are another storage hatch and access to the 3in self-draining deck hoses with shut-off valves for when the payload exceeds 2000kg and the drains dip below water level. If this sounds alarming, sealed tanks the full length of the side decks provide sufficient buoyancy to keep the hull afloat even swamped and fully loaded.

After our photography session – during which Wolfraad did his best to bend the boat in half in full-blooded high-speed turns – it was time for a drive.

Vision over the high bow is surprisingly good at low speed and remained so as the boat transitioned onto the plane at a very low 9kt. The wide beam, rear driving position and open cockpit create the impression of a larger boat, yet it feels nimble and highly responsive to helm and throttle.

The inboard Mercruiser is a 4.5L fuel-injected, four-stroke petrol engine with smooth and quiet power delivery giving an excellent holeshot with impressive low-speed torque. Adaptive speed control automatically holds engine revs to maintain speed through turns without having to adjust the throttle position.

Swim platforms at the stern assist boarding from the rear and also act as stabilisers at low speed; they lift some 300mm above the water from 15kt.

Lekker Damsko 8

The Lekker was pleasantly soft over steep harbour chop and a slow 2m swell across the heads to Manly, and stayed dry when crossing wakes. Handling is precise and measured both in sharp and wide manoeuvres, with no wallowing or any hint of burying a chine.

Cruising is pleasant in the 25-28kt range where harbour chop is of no consequence and the boat lifts on its planing strakes for a soft, quiet ride. At wide-open throttle I saw 39kt on my GPS with three on board and about 120L fuel in the 220L tank. Wolfraad reckons he gets 43kts one-up.

The Zipwake system kept the boat on an even keel at low and medium speeds as the interceptors (small vertical tabs) move almost instantaneously up and down to create drag on one side and bring the hull back to level trim. Zipwakes are easily programmed to the user’s requirements – Wolfraad set it to disconnect above 25kt to maintain the hull’s spirited performance when leaning into turns.

THE WRAP

Lekker Damsko 9

With its A$160,000 price tag it’s tempting to write the Damsko off as a cashed-up hipster plaything but that would be a disservice. Options like a small cuddy cabin with toilet open it up for family enjoyment and even overnighting. It’s also a rock-solid build and with six coats of marine paint it’ll weather life swinging on a mooring, with all the cushions locked away and the self-draining deck giving peace of mind. You can fish, waterski – optional 2m wake pole – and travel safely offshore, so a weekend to Pittwater from Sydney is on the cards. In essence, there’s nothing like it on the market.

Other boat builders have drawn on the lifeboat theme for recreational boating but no-one’s done it with the style, performance and off-the-scale fun of the Lekker Damsko. It redefines harbour dayboats. Sure, it’s expensive but that adds to the exclusive nature for those who appreciate its versatility and safety. Lekker is indeed cool. 

SPECIFICATIONS 

PRICED FROM

A$140,000

 

OPTIONS FITTED

Cockpit cushions, Boat fender, antifouling, Zipwake, helm cover, wake pole, Bimini, more

 

PRICE AS TESTED

A$160,000

 

GENERAL

TYPE Monohull Dayboat

MATERIAL 5mm 5083 aluminium

LENGTH 7.5m

BEAM 2.69m

WEIGHT 1650kg (hull only)

DEADRISE 19°

 

CAPACITIES

PEOPLE 23 (sheltered water), 15(offshore)

FUEL 220L

WATER NR

 

ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL Mercruiser 4.5

TYPE V6 fuel-injected sterndrive

RATED HP 250

DISPLACEMENT 4500cc

WEIGHT 343kg (engine only)

GEAR RATIO 2.2:1

PROPELLER 19in

 

SUPPLIED BY

Lekker Boats Sydney

PHONE 0449 880 008

Email info@lekkerboats.com

WEB www.lekkerboats.com

 


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