March / April 2022

E.G. Van de Stadt

Plywood pioneer
E.G. Van de Stadt


Where it all began: the 21’ gaff-riged sloop VALK was designed to promote Bruynzeel plywood but soon took off as a popular racing class.

STORMVOGEL was the biggest in a series of pioneering boats that started when Kees Bruynzeel wanted to demonstrate the suitability of a new type of waterproof plywood for building boats. What better way to do this than to build a new class of boat, and what better person to design that boat than his neighbor and fellow wood merchant’s son, E.G. “Ricus” Van de Stadt?

Growing up on the west bank of the River Zaan just outside Amsterdam, Van de Stadt started boating from a young age and was cofounder of a local canoe club. His first design was a sailing canoe that he drew while still at school; he sold the plans for 25 Dutch cents plus postage. After training in naval engineering at a college in Haarlem, he worked briefly at a yard building steel-hulled boats before setting up his own yard in Zaandam in 1933, specializing in wooden boats.

The yard got off to a slow start building canoes—Olympic O-Jolles, Dragons, and a practice skiff Van de Stadt designed himself. His big break came in 1938 when Bruynzeel employed him to work half-days for six months at his kitchen-cabinet factory to design a boat that could be built from three sheets of plywood, one that would be “faster than the existing competition classes, stable and spacious.” The result was the 21' 4" Valk (Falcon). With its hard-chined hull, cast-iron bulb ballast keel, and spade rudder, it was like nothing else around and was an instant success, with 100 hulls built in 1940 and 150 more in 1941, before World War II closed down production. It’s still one of the most popular classes in Holland, with many of the original boats still sailing.

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