|The history of X-Yachts|
.In Denmark in 1979, one of today's most successful quality yards for sailing yachts was born.
Only a few people know how X-Yachts came to be. Two brothers, Lars and Niels Jeppesen, grew up in a part of Denmark where modern boat production was being pioneered. Niels had been designing sailing boats for many years and convinced the owner of the Danish Banner yard to design a new fast boat for him. It would be called the Banner 30, but the yard had no space to build the first prototype. So, 31- year-old Birger Hansen stepped in: he was the fiberglass specialist at the Banner yard and he offered some space at his farm near Haderslev to build the first Banner 30. At that time, 24- year-old Lars was just finishing his boat-building classes and 23-year-old Niels was studying to become a schoolteacher. Little did these three men know that this was going to be the first of several thousand yachts that they would create together.
The Banner 30 was launched in May 1978 and immediately she started winning prizes. In late May of that year, she won the "Lillebealt Cup" and showed great potential by crossing the finish line ahead of a 55ft racing yacht.
After this success, a Dane named Peter Reedtz, asked Niels to design him a 36ft boat. The goal was to make a fast yacht that would win the following year's "Around Sjaelland Race", which at that time was the largest race in the world, with around 2.200 competitors. Lars, Niels and Birger constructed the boat, called Ravage 36, themselves. The yacht was launched in a snowstorm in December 1978. Test sailing was done in dark and cold December and was so satisfactory that Peter Reedtz decided to start commercial production straight away. The famous Danish "Bianca" yard became the builder of the Ravage 36. As hoped, the prototype won the "Around Sjaelland Race".
After this project Lars decided to go hitchhiking around the Middle East, Birger started to work for a local power boat builder and Niels was due to continue his plans to be a schoolteacher. Before going their own ways, the three young Danes talked loosely of establishing their own company to produce a smaller version of the Banner 30/Ravage 36 concept, but nothing was agreed upon.
Then in-mid February 1979, while Lars was still travelling, Niels and Birger met one Sunday. They decided that it would be fun to build a hull themselves to show Lars that they were up to the job too, as Lars was the only real boat-builder. Niels designed a 7.8 metre hull, which was later extended to 7.9 metres, so the name of the boat could be the same as the year in which it was built: 79. On his return, Lars helped with the completion of the prototype, but no one could decide on a name for this new yacht, so they simply called her X-79. She was launched on the 9th of May 1979 and five were quickly sold.
They participated again in the "Around Sjaelland Race" and became the overall winners. Next she competed in the "Around Tjörn Race", the biggest event in Sweden, with a fleet of 1.800 yachts. Again the X-79 won, this time ahead of the new Albin Express, the Maxi 80 Racer and the new J-24, which had just arrived in Europe.
The Copenhagen Boat Show was coming up, but exhibiting would cost the equivalent of 3.000 Euros, which was a fortune for these young guys. They held their nerve and booked a space at the show, where they sold 17 X-79s. They had only one problem, they did not have a yard to build the sold boats. So a license was agreed upon with Delta Marine in Sweden, which sold 120 X-79s for the following two years. During the next 24 months an additional 160 yachts were sold.
In 1981, the Three Quarter Ton World Championship was going to be sailed in Helsinki. Niels specially designed the 10 meter long X-102 for this event. Hull nr 5 "Soldier Blue" was skippered by the Danish world-class racing sailor Ib Ussing Andersen, who later became the president of North Sails Europe. The boat was helmed by his colleague Jens Christensen and they won the World Championship.
Three years later this Cup was defended successfully with a new victory in Denia, Spain. Meanwhile, X-Yachts had become famous on the international racing scene. The X-102 captured the official ORC World Championship title six times during the 1980s.
During the 1980s, X-Yachts designed and built several World Cup winners such as the X-95 and X-3/4 Ton Mk2. In 1985, the X-99 was launched, with more than 100 units pre-sold just from the plans alone. In total, 605 units of the X- 99 would be built during the next few years. Several other nice boats were built such as the X-342, X-372 and X-402.
In 1988 the 60ft "Andelsbanken", a oneoff, was designed. She was specially built to win line honors at the "Around Sealand race", which she did amid more then 2.000 participants. She was extreme and many years ahead of her time. Later that year she successfully competed in the Admirals Cup, the Japan Cup and at Key West.
All these success stories attracted the attention of the cruising market, which was then looking for fast, high quality and comfortable sailing yachts. It was clear for the founders that they should use their experience from the fast racers and combine this with building high-performance cruising yachts. Throughout the 1990s, a complete full range of performance cruisers was established. The X-412 was the first model in the new line, and was followed by ten yachts from the X-302 to the X-612. The last model of this range was the X-562, which came out in 1999. I owned an X-412 and just loved it. This range was winning races everywhere in the world during the 90s.
The new millennium was celebrated with the introduction of the IMX 40 racer - an almost unbeatable IMS and IRC performer. In early 2002, the IMX 45 followed her little sister onto the race course and continued the successful tradition worldwide. I started racing an IMX 40 myself and indeed, and it was not easy to beat her.
The first X-Yacht 73, built in 2001, was another milestone in the yard's history. She represented the entry of the yard into the luxury "deep water, cruising market". With the launch of the X-43 and X-46 in 2003, a new generation of performance cruisers was born. Three new models followed in 2004; the X-40, X-37 and X-50. In summer 2006, the X-55 was launched - a yacht with many of the elegant details of the IMX 70 racer/cruiser which was, itself, launched as a "state-of-theart" yacht, with its modern yet classic design, in the summer of 2005. I bought an X-43 and cruised the Med with my family from Barcelona during many years.One Design Classes
The new X-35 One Design follows the traditions of the X-79 and X-99, as popular large fleet one-design racers, and in 2007 two hundred X-35s were racing around the world as an ISAF recognized class. In 2007, the bigger sister, the X-41, started building another X-Yachts one design class with its first World Championship held in Copenhagen in July of 2008. Not less then 32 X-41s and around 400 top sailors from all over the world competed in this first World Championship. My just delivered 41 "X" was one of them and we finished at a respectable 8th place after a week of very tough racing.The Xcruising Range
The Xcruising range was designed for sailors who want to cover sea miles in style and comfort, yet retain the same design and build qualities that X-Yachts performance designs are renowned for. The first in the family, the Xc 45, was awarded the "2009 European Yacht of the Year" the year of its launch. It was soon joined by the Xc 42 and in 2010, the range was doubled by the introduction of the Xc 50 and the Xc 38. Only a couple of months after the launch of the Xc 38, it was awarded the "2011 European Yacht of the Year". Every model in the Xc range offers the same enjoyable sailing experience that XYachts owners are familiar with, but with deeper, more 'V'-shaped hulls that give greater interior volume and high stability, with only a marginal reduction in light-air performance. I stopped racing and swapped to an Xc 42 myself and kept cruising the Med, this time in great comfort.The Xperformance Range
In 2010, the two first of this new fast range, the Xp 44 and Xp 38, were designed. Niels decided to begin a new Xperformance generation because the previous existing performance range was originally developed back in 2002 and 2003. In the meanwhile, new production materials and methods such as epoxy hulls and carbon frames became possible for our production yard.
Also the new designed cruising line showed they were sailing faster then the previous performance boats so something had to be done about that.
The new Xp models were created to build on X-Yachts' winning heritage, but also to take the designs forward by incorporating the latest technology as well as optimizing for the increasingly popular IRC handicap rules and latest version of the ORC rules. "Our aims were to offer what X-Yachts is expected to offer - and which we originally became known for - namely yachts which both give a sailing experience second to none, and at the same time also offer an ideal instrument on which to entertain the family," Niels Jeppesen explains. I personally believe that no other yard won so many World Cups and other important racing titles over all the years. For almost 25 years, I have ran around in the yard and know most everyone working there. I am sure that no other yard has had so many top sailors as employees and I strongly believe that this a big key for their success, along with the exceptional design skills of Niels. The founders and many employees are really top sailors, which have a natural eye for detail. This is very important and needed in order to create one of the finest brands in the world.The New Ownership
For several years, the majority of X-Yachts has been owned by Ib Kunøe's holding company, Consolidated Holdings, which conducts business through a number of fully or partly-owned companies in Scandinavia. The overall turnover of these companies is 25 billion DKK and they have around 8.000 employees, primarily in Europe. Consolidated Holdings has an equity of around 2.2 billion DKK and Ib himself is a keen X-Yachts sailor. Niels Jeppesen is still the other main share holder, CEO and designer of X-Yachts. Lars and Birger both retired recently. Niels told me once: "the owners of our boats are cleverer; that is the main reason of our success."