Why Dutch bike brand Lekker's Damsko is the ultimate party boat

Meindert Wolfraad wants to bring some Dutch thinking into the way we get about in Australia.

The Dutch-born beach lover behind the Lekker bike brand – which has introduced a European two-wheeled aesthetic to the local bike scene – now has his eyes on things that float.

Under the same Lekker moniker – it means sexy, tasty and cool – Wolfraad has unleashed the Damsko, a 17-person dayboat cruiser that can also put on some impressive pace and will be launching at the 2017 Sydney International Boat Show.

All for life

Despite being the ideal vessel for Sydney's waterways, the inspiration for the Damsko came from a lot further afield - Dutch canal boats.

"The boats I'm used to in Amsterdam are basically old lifeboats that are repurposed to party boats – and that's what you would like in the water," says Wolfraad.

Rather than old boats repurposed, Wolfraad started from scratch with the Damsko, understanding he needed to Australianise them for what is a very different aquatic experience.

"I built a boat for Australia," says Wolfraad, adding "these boats need to be different, because Australia has longer distances and it's choppier and there are bigger waves. So, the circumstances are completely different to the canals and the waters of the Netherlands."

Aquatic architecture

Wolfraad used navy architects for guidance on the clean sheet design, which includes a deep 'V' at the front of the hull for chopping through the water along with a broad, flat stern for comfort and stability.

Inside, there are cushioned seats all around – heated, if you like – with lockable storage underneath, and a slide-out fridge under the central table.


While he investigated building them locally, Wolfraad wanted thicker frames (it's all 5mm 5083-grade aluminium), something he said he meant heading to one of the largest shipyards in the Netherlands.

It's all about the speed

Of the 20-odd Damskos that have been sold in Europe Wolfraad says about 70 per cent of owners also drive a Porsche.

Perhaps it's something to do with the attention to detail, classic design and relative speed he has injected into the Damsko.

He sees it as a boat for cruising with friends and family, but one that can also be used for waterskiing and wakeboarding.

It's available with an engine up to 260 horsepower capable of about 80km/h.

Green cruisers

For those with a green tinge Lekker is producing its first electric boat for an international client.

Utilising batteries from car maker Tesla, the boat will run a 50hp motor, so not travel as quickly as its regular alternatives.

But it can be recharged from household powerpoints as well as a canopy incorporating solar panels.

How's the ambience

It's not just the look and performance that makes a Lekker Damsko - it's also the sound.

All come with a comprehensive six-speaker sound system with Dolby surround and subwoofer.

There are even six USB chargers and Bluetooth connection, ensuring plenty of that party boat atmosphere Wolfraad is aiming for.

Pop another shrimp on the barbie

As with other boats, the personalisation options are generally limited by the imagination of the buyer.

Wolfraad says there have been some interesting requests.

"A console … with flight instruments like a cockpit … Bluetooth [safety], so when I fall in the water the engine will stop - we can do it" he says.

One customer asked for a Japanese cooking plate and, for Australia, the frame that acts as a bike rack in the Netherlands is used to mount a barbecue.

There's also an optional canopy to create some shade.

Fine tuning

The Lekker is constantly being fine tuned, with tweaks being made during production.

Extra welding has been added, for example, to stop the subwoofer from vibrating other components.

And an easy access door has been incorporated to allow easier access to the motor for servicing.

Lessons and layers

It's all part of the learning process for a boat that arrives with a price premium; it starts at about $130,000 for the 7.5-metre-long Damsko 750 and goes to circa-$300,000 for the 10m Damsko 1000.

Each boat has 60 kilograms of paint applied in six layers, all with the aim of minimising maintenance.

It's all about "just doing it well", according to Wolfraad. "I don't want to do things [by] half."

Who's buying?

There will be rusted-on boat buyers who won't consider the retro look and unique size and shape of the Damsko.

And it's difficult to see the casual weekend fishermen ditching their tinnies to spend well into six figures on a Damsko.

But Lekker is not looking to dominate the market; the plan is to sell about eight boats in Australia through the rest of 2017, ensuring exclusivity is part of the appeal.

Wolfraad sees the boat share market as one option.

Instead of spending upwards of $10K for the rights to use someone else's boat during a year, he sees an opportunity to appeal to a ground of friends who can split the cost on their own boat.