Thys Nikkels

Naval Architect, Dykstra Naval Architects

Thys Nikkels always knew he wanted to design sailboats. Upon completing his naval architecture and marine engineering degree in 1991, he joined Dykstra Naval Architects, based in Amsterdam. Gerard Dykstra founded the Dykstra Naval Architects studio in 1969. Nikkels was Dykstra’s first employee. In the beginning Dykstra incorporated two disciplines: yachting and commercial shipping. In 1994 they decided to focus their energies into yachting. The company provides preliminary and concept designs for yachts as well as practical expertise in rigging, spars, and structural analysis, using their own in-house developed software. In 1998, Dykstra made Nikkels a partner in the company, and in 2000, he started the process of taking over the company. The transition was completed by 2004. Nikkels is now managing director and sole owner. Dykstra Naval Architect’s most recent achievement is the extraordinary 350-foot (106.7 meter) Sailing Yacht Black Pearl built by Oceanco— a technically advance evolution of the S/Y Maltese Falcon launched in 2006.


Which project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career/

Every project has its own accomplishment, they are all one-off projects, and they are successful when they meet the design brief and satisfy the owners.


Who has influenced you the most? Why?

Gerard Dykstra, because of his vast experience. He has also influenced me to be open minded


What do you consider to be your biggest challenge?

Being innovative in the design process to be able to give the owners new possibilities for greater sailing.


If you could choose one location for your next travel adventure, where would you go?

I have two places in mind: The Galapagos Islands and Indonesia


What is your favorite part of your job?

Working in a creative team where we all inspire each other.


What advice do you have for the next generation?

Embrace innovation


What do you see are upcoming trends in the industry?

A move towards zero emissions, for instance by Power regeneration while sailing, for example how this was achieved on SY Black Pearl