In this exclusive interview (in English but subtitled in Italian), Michael Schmidt, former founder of Hanse and now head of Y Yachts, talks about himself. From his beginnings as a sailor and the (almost) Olympics as a sportsman to his planetary success as an entrepreneur. An interview not to be missed.
Who is Michael Schmidt
Michael Schmidt, born in Kiel in 1948, is one of the biggest players in boating in the past 30 years. First a sailor and racer, star of the German challenges to the Admiral’s Cup in the 1980s, then a manager and boat builder, founder of a global giant like Hanse, and then still the creator of a “visionary” brand like Y Yachts. Michael Schmidt’s story is that of a man who has managed to combine passion and business in his work.
The fall of the Wall and the creation of Hanse
In the late 1980s he sniffed the good times post fall of the Berlin Wall and in what had been East Germany, in Greifswald to be precise, he founded Hanse Shipyard in 1990 in an old shed. Initially the shipyard is mainly involved in repairs, but soon the outlook changes. His goal is clear: pure cruising boats up to that time were slow and sometimes out of step with the times. Schmidt wants to come up with something new, not racing boats, but comfortable models that would sail very well, but as long as they were cheap. To do this you need an industrial production model and innovative designers: the choice fell on two names that would soon become important: Friedrich Judel and Rolf Vrolijk. He buys molds from a bankrupt Swedish shipyard, Rex Marin, and makes the Hanse 291, which will be a success at the 1994 Hamburg Show. The foundation stone of a construction site that will become a colossus.
The birth of Y Yachts
In 2011 Schmidt decided to leave and sell Hanse, but he had something new in mind; he did not intend to stop. He wants to continue producing boats, but this time not worrying about the market, or rather, not having the market as the main focus. He simply wants to produce his own boats, the ones he likes, boats of the most sophisticated design, with unconventional stylistic touches, fast, luxurious.
The 80-foot Cool Breeze, a Brenta Design project, is the first boat produced, in 2015, by Michael Schmidt’s new boatyard.
Thus was born Y Yachts, which in these early years had designers such as Lorenzo Argento and Luca Brenta among its protagonists. An out-of-the-box brand that will never cease to surprise us in the years to come. Boats that will carry with them the DNA of Michael Schmidt: part racer, part visionary; an imaginative yachtsman.
- 3 December 2020