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The X factor

Friday 24th May 2019

Watch the movie and read Yanmar’s interview with CEO Kræn Brinck Nielsen:

“We are surrounded by so much water and therefore have a strong history of sailing,” says Kræn Brinck Nielsen, CEO of X-Yachts. Kræn grew up sailing dingies and excelled enough to represent his country. Later, he was offered his dream job at the helm of this local shipyard that has built its reputation as the best in performance yacht design and construction.

“It was an easy choice – I’ve known this company since I was eight years old and have sailed X-Yachts my whole career,” he adds. “Having something you are passionate about in your backyard was almost too good to be true.”

Reasons to celebrate

2019 is a special anniversary year for X-Yachts, as the company is celebrating 40 years in the business. Kræn attributes X-Yachts’ longevity to several factors, not least of which is the dedication of its staff.

“We have a long tenure with the employees, because they’re passionate about what they do. We’ve had the same designer right from the beginning. The first-ever sailboat produced by X-Yachts in 1979 is also back at the yard and undergoing a total makeover in time for our 40th anniversary celebrations.”

Interestingly, co-founder Birger Hansen is also still employed by the company and is showing no signs of slowing down – even at 70 years old. He is restoring the aforementioned, original X79 hull #1. This historic vessel will be exhibited at the ‘Gold Cup’, where the Haderslev harbour will be full of X-Yachts spanning the past four decades, with owners and enthusiasts enjoying this celebratory regatta.

Community spirit

Since that original X-79, the company has delivered approximately 6,000 sailboats worldwide. Its 250 employees currently hand over around 75 boats a year to customers. Many of them come to the shipyard to see where their dreams have literally taken shape in the capable hands of the skilled workforce.

“Some of the stories are amazing, especially as these are dreams that people have had for many years,” enthuses Kræn. “We recently supplied a Danish customer with an X4³. He sold his company, his wife left her job and they took their kids out of school. And now we’re following them in the Caribbean as they live out their dreams at sea.

“Then there are the three Maltese guys – aged 69, 71 and 73 – who spent seven years deciding to buy an Xc  45. They stepped on board and their next stop was Valetta, 3,000 nautical miles away”.

“Another favourite are the Americans who were planning on getting a boat when they retired but decided instead to get the boat in their 50s, live on it and keep working. They purchased the boat five years ahead of schedule – simply by changing their way of thinking”.

“We follow everyone’s experiences online and it’s a great way to keep in contact with our customers. Our community and ambassadors around the world are major drivers for further success.”

Positive customer testimonials are as important as the superior sailing pleasure that this world-famous brand is renowned for. Each boat is unique, but one uniting factor is that the hearts of the boats are powered by Yanmar’s series of common-rail marine diesel engines.

Partners in performance

“We want our boats to be a safe choice and the times when you need the engine, you want it to be reliable, like entering a harbour in heavy seas,” explains Kræn. “It’s vital your yacht can be serviced around the world. If my customer picks up a boat in Denmark and ends up in the Caribbean, he expects the same levels of service”.

“Our customers typically sail their boats short-handed, so ease of use is paramount. This is especially true when it comes to easy sail handing, operating electrical winches, bow and stern thrusters, and so on. We need to offer them a reliable product in terms of use and support – our customers expect that.”

Yanmar’s famous reliability also extends out of the water, in its role as a trusted and valued supplier to boat builders, such as X-Yachts.

“We create moulds, build a hull and need the engines to be delivered on exactly the right date to fit our production schedules,” adds Kræn. “Having a supplier you can rely on to help facilitate that process is a ‘must’ to be successful in this industry.”

Judging by the full order book and huge extension being built at the Haderslev yard, the employees will no doubt soon start thinking about plans for the 50th anniversary celebrations, due in 2029.