January / February 2024


Two S&S classics return
55’8” yawl SCARABEE.

Pieter van der Aa built the 55’8” yawl SCARABEE singlehandedly at his shop in The Nertherlands. The yacht is a re-creation of the Sparkman & Stephens yawl AVANTI.

Pieter van der Aa has a seemingly genetic passion for wood. His great-grandfather, grandfather, and father all worked with the material. As a young boy he spent much time with his father at his factory, which built wooden doors and other components for houses. He also spent time at the small boatyard operated by his uncles, who built lifeboats.

In 1980, when he was 17, Pieter brought this experience together and built his first boat, a plywood canoe. Two years later, he restored a teak sloop under the guidance of his uncles’ yard. Soon afterward he restored a classic 28' Alan Buchanan–designed East Anglian 28 built in 1963. Through these projects, he developed both skill and a deep understanding of hardwoods. He parlayed all of this into his own business, importing oak from France—mainly in special long sizes commonly used in industrial flooring. After a very successful period, he sold his company in 2009.

By then, he had succumbed to the urge to combine his twin passions for boats and wood—but in a very large way. Rather than continue to turn out, say, a series of small boats or even a modest-sized pocket cruiser, he took on the complete construction, alone, of two significant bluewater yachts designed by the legendary American firm of Sparkman & Stephens (S&S).

From 2004 to 2010, Pieter singlehandedly built the S&S–designed 45' New York 32-class sloop MASQUERADE. For many years, Pieter had dreamed of building his own sailing yacht. Upon discovering the S&S drawings of the New York 32, from which 20 had been built during the winter of 1935–36, he was determined to build one.

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