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Australia has a long naval history, and a predominantly coastal lifestyle. So, it’s no surprise that we love spending our spare time exploring the waterways and coast in everything from kayaks, to catamarans. What is surprising is when a vessel comes along that is truly unique, perhaps even a little unusual, that is both striking and capable.
Another nation that shares a long, and occasionally overlapping, naval history is Holland. As the first confirmed Europeans to set foot in Australia, the Dutch have a long history of navigating our waters in vessels designed many miles away. Fast-forward a couple of hundred years to today, and the Dutch are making waves on our shores once again with the arrival of Lekker Boats to the Australian market.
Born in Bondi while the founder Meindert Wolfraad was living in Australia, Lekker was built on quality Dutch design to meet Australian needs. Some readers may even own a Lekker Bike, which launched in Australia in 2009 and continues to expand its range, and locations across the country.
After 20,000 bikes sales in Australia, Meindert was inspired once again by his homeland and their fondness for canal boats. Working with a Dutch naval architect, plans were drawn for something special. A Dutch styled Sloep, named ‘The Damsko’, was redesigned to suit Australian conditions. Damsko is the nickname for Amsterdam, and the city’s Andreas Crosses symbol is proudly incorporated into the Lekker logo.
With a top speed of 44kt and a capacity of 25 passengers the ‘Damsko’ is best described as a ‘Wolf in sheep’s clothing’. Excellent handling at exhilarating speeds, good economy, luxurious comfort, and a surprisingly large capacity are backed up by a robust and relatively maintenance-free design that also provides safety and reliability.
Capable of leisurely entertaining on the harbour, with a generous open layout that can comfortably fit 25 people, the Damsko provides an ideal platform for entertaining. Ahead of the helm is a sliding draw, on heavy duty rollers, which neatly conceals the large water sealed esky drawer, and below that a smugglers hatch opens to reveal an incredible 400kg of extra storage space below the deck.
With two sun lounges, a large Bimini for shade, conveniently placed bottle openers, and drink holders within arm’s reach, the Damsko is superbly crafted for enjoying the water with friends and family. A six speaker Jensen surround sound system, including a sub-woofer and amps, is also easily connected to your devices via Bluetooth to provide the soundtrack to your sunsets, without the messy cords or exposed plug ports. There are also multiple sealed USB ports to charge your phone or other devices.
A sealed box for keys and phones is easily accessed atop the helm, while the instruments and electronics are angled toward the skipper. A large sailing style wheel provides smooth control and comfortable handling, while adding a touch of elegance to this sophisticated vessel.
I would describe the on-board design as stylish and comfortable. With lounge seating around the sides, and two sun lounges at the bow and stern, covered in weather proofed vinyl cushions and backrests. The cushions are attached with push-studs for easy removal when required, and easily stow into the multiple generously sized storage hatches. The optional Nautiteek decking is an anti-slip, and maintenance free, flooring solution that has the appearance of a traditional wooden finish.
A stylish optimal Bimini is a must have for the Australian sun, which covers nearly half of the vessel, and provides both privacy and relief on the hotter days.
A bow hatch deep enough to store fenders, anchors, extra fuel, and stores the cushions, when not in use, is backed up by two bench hatches on the port and starboard sides towards the bow. Between them is enough room for skiing gear, safety equipment, picnic supplies and much more.
A hatch to the starboard side of the engine bay stores the batteries and the two 1000w amps for the stereo, while the port side hatch adds even more storage, and neatly conceals the 3inch self-draining deck hoses, with easy access to shut-off valves for the drains. Sealed tanks either side of the entire deck provide sufficient buoyancy in the unlikely event the drains are below water level, even if the boat is swamped and fully loaded.
A central hatch at the stern covers the 250hp 4.5L Mercruiser Sterndrive that we tested, with engine options including Mercury inboards up to 350hp (47kts), or a Volvo Penta 265 DTI Diesel. As the Damsko increases in speed, you quickly get a feel for the power hidden below deck. The Damsko was built with water sports in mind, as Meindert is a passionate skier and wakeboarder. An optional 2m ski pole slides into the mount in a small hatch at the stern, and is easily stored in the hatches.
The modern hull design, characterised by a deep-V bow, moderate dead rise, and integrated spray rails combine to provide a smooth and dry ride in choppy conditions or moderate swell.
The boat is almost entirely made out of 5mm aluminium plate, apart from the 20mm keel which protects the hull from sand, rocks, and debris. Surrounding the entire hull is a thick rubber rail that protects and assists when docking, or when using the Damsko as a stylish tender to larger vessels.
Six heavy duty cleats, capable of lifting the entire weight of the boat, and unique bollards at the bow and stern are made to easily accommodate a looped mooring line without any fuss.
The signature extended hull of the Damsko at the stern doubles as a swim platform, assists with boarding from the dock or while swimming, and acts as a stabiliser at both low and high speeds. Built-in ladder rails at bow, and stern, combine to make coming aboard a breeze.
Cruising is both comfortable and dry at all speeds, with the Damsko handling the chop or swell with ease. The smooth quiet ride ensures you can navigate the waterways with confidence, or travel into open waters and along the coast to explore other waterways without the need to trailer.
In short there really isn’t anything else on our shores that provides the style, comfort, and exhilaration of the Lekker Damsko in one package. A sports boat, with the luxury of a cruiser, and the capacity of much larger vessels will surely attract the attention of families, friends, and those seeking fun in the sun. There is nothing else quite like it on the market. Options like the cabin which feature beds and a toilet further expand the capabilities of the Damsko for overnighting, and families with children.
Starting at $160,000 the Lekker isn’t going to be for everyone, but with the Damsko more than capable in so many areas, it’s versatility will surely make it appeal to those looking for a boat that masters more than one purpose.