To date, there are two boats designed by Danish designer and co-founder of X-Yachts Niels Jeppesen entered into the Global Solo Challenge (GSC), the X-55 of Belgian Dirk Gunst and the X-37 of Frenchman Louis Robein.
When you look at the current range of high-end, luxurious, cruising, and performance craft now produced by X-yachts, it is hard to believe that this operation started as very much a ‘shoestring’ affair.
It was back in 1979 that brothers Niels and Lars Jeppesen, together with boatbuilder Birger Hansen, had success with their first design. Built in Hansen’s barn, the X-79 won the Danish Sjælland Rundt race and the prestigious Swedish Tjørn Rundt, which was, at the time, the biggest race in Sweden with over 2,000 yachts competing.
As a result of this success, the orders started coming in, and indeed over 500 of the X79 were eventually made. But to establish and develop their fledgling business, the trio had to make ends meet as well as they could.
They each took substantial overdrafts, they entered collaborations with other firms who made various parts of the yachts, and they entered commission sales deals with agents.
They kept their costs low by some ingenious methods, including sharing a telephone line with Hansen’s other business (which at the time was similarly named), sleeping in a boat that they were displaying at an exhibition, and even only paying overtime at a rate of 50% of normal time, on the basis that no-one worked as hard when they were tired after a full day at work.
In 1983, after four years of hard graft, they founded X-Yachts and established this business as a self-financing going concern.
The boats themselves have gone on to win numerous design awards, including the 2007 European Boat of the Year for the X55 with others of their designs winning the same honor over the years along with several other Boat or Cruiser of the year awards.
The list of successes in yacht racing is equally as impressive, with X-Yachts having won many races, including winning the One-ton cup twice, Southern Ocean Racing Commission (SORC) races in the USA twice, IMS European Championships in 1995, and the Rolex Commodores’ Cup, twice.
A great example of the wins claimed by these yachts was that of the X37 in 2008, which amazingly scored a third consecutive win in the ORC 670 World Championship.
X-Yachts have built over 6,000 yachts, to date, which given their humble beginnings, and that they are relative newcomers attests to the quality of their designs.
In 2005 Niels moved to the UK along with his design office and together with Ariadna Pons Forn, formed Jeppesen & Pons Ltd. Niels has ended his association with X-Yachts but this new design firm is now designing for Swedish Yacht builders, Arcona with his newly designed Arcona 50 having just been released for sale.
Since 2012, X-yachts has been owned by a Danish holding company and of the original trio, only Hansen still works for them.
Featured Photo: X-Yachts Gold Cup