Cor D. Rover of Cor D. Rover Design was born to create yachts. Really. He was, in fact, born on a boat—a 69-foot inland barge upon which his parents were raising his three older siblings in The Netherlands. So, when he says his love for boats probably came at conception, it’s reasonably true.
To be fair, Rover was fascinated with planes, trains, and automobiles, too. You name it, he drew it and made scale models. But, “maybe because my whole family was drawn to the water, both professionally as well as leisurely, I ended up in the floating life rather than in the flying life,” he says. Today, he runs a six-person design studio in Amsterdam, responsible for dozens of production yachts and custom superyachts.
Rover and his team design exteriors and interiors. They’ve turned out classic looks ranging from the Zeelander Yachts models to superyachts like the 148-foot Hakvoort My Trust (now Awatea). They’ve also created contemporary looks like the Magellano series for Azimut and the 220-foot Benetti Seasense. “We purely consider ourselves a pencil and a hand that draws upon the dreams of our clients,” Rover says. Along with that, he operates by the motto, “I try to rediscover what never existed.”
While Rover constantly sketched as a child, his interest was more than surface deep. “Obsessed” with jet engines, he read every book about planes at his local library. Surely, his father, a former captain who ran an electrical firm, influenced him, too. Rover therefore first pursued mechanical engineering studies, followed by naval architecture. Fortunately, large, well-known shipyards, including Damen, surrounded his hometown, leading to internships (Damen is a defense, shipbuilding, and engineering conglomerate).
An early job had a big impact, too. Three decades ago, Rover worked at Mulder Design, headed by the renowned naval architect Frank Mulder. Among Rover’s first projects there was the now-famous yacht Octopussy. John Staluppi, her owner, wanted the 132-footer to be the world’s fastest yacht. “Everybody had told him that doing 53 knots with a 40-meter yacht was impossible,” Rover says. “Time has told us it wasn’t.” Octopussy hit 53.2 knots—61 mph—setting a record.
Interestingly, this relates to Rover’s motto, “I try to rediscover what never existed.” To him, it means a few things. “As a designer, my task is to come up with ideas and concepts that never existed before,” Rover explains. “I take it as my personal task to give the client something that he or she did not even ask for.” He relates his experience with his first smartphone. “I never asked for a phone with navigating maps, but the moment I saw it, I surely wanted to have it,” he remembers. “I am extremely impressed with all of today’s and tomorrow’s technology. At the same time, I adore classic beauty and timeless elegance; that is where the ‘rediscovery’ in the phrase comes from.”
A good example of his motto is the BeachClub 600 from Van der Valk. The 62-footer has the space utilization of a superyacht, with nearly 603 square feet of alfresco space. More remarkable, she includes a beach-club-style lounge, with abundant glass keeping guests connected to the sea.
Another example is Horizon Yachts’ FD series. “The FD series started on a rainy Wednesday. Wednesday for us was, and sometimes still is, the day that we design something that no one is asking for,” Rover remembers. “We had the idea of a pocket megayacht with the owner on the main deck.” The week prior, he’d watched an 80-year-old client head down steep stairs to his stateroom aboard his 80-footer. This convinced Rover there had to be a better way, borrowed from their larger-yacht designs. “We knew he was surely not the only one who wanted to enjoy the ocean as long as possible,” he asserts.
The rest, as they say, is history. “We sketched, modeled, and rendered a proposal and showed it to John Lu, the CEO of Horizon,” Rover continues. Horizon announced the FD series in 2015, launching the first model, the FD85, the following year. Today, Cor D. Rover Design is working on six FD models, from the FD77 to the FD125.
As you might expect, sometimes customers throw down design challenges. One American recently did that, resulting in the Horizon FD87. The owner liked the FD85 but wanted an enclosed skylounge versus an open bridge. “I would probably never have had the guts to put so much real estate on a yacht if the owner didn’t challenge me,” Rover asserts. “Thanks to him, we are now selling this design and this Horizon model, as well as bigger and smaller ones, in big numbers.”
It’s a long way from poring over library books about airplanes. Rover doesn’t regret the switch for a moment. “The freedom of design is dramatically bigger in our water-bound world,” he says.