Francis Lapp, President, Sunreef Yachts
Poland’s Sunreef Yachts has hit the big time, with Rafa Nadal as a client, Nico Rosberg as an ambassador and turnover doubling last year. Yet French founder Francis Lapp is staying focused as the luxury catamaran builder shifts to a new shipyard in Gdansk, constructs a flagship 161ft powercat and works on an innovative Eco range.
By John Higginson
Francis, can you talk about Sunreef’s recent engagement with two very high-profile sports stars, having delivered an 80 Sunreef Power to tennis legend Rafa Nadal in Spain and secured former F1 champion Niko Rosberg as an Eco Brand Ambassador.
When Rafa first got on board his yacht, the news was everywhere as paparazzi followed his every step in Mallorca. And yes, we appointed Nico Rosberg as our ambassador for Sunreef Yachts Eco. Nico’s activity after retiring from Formula 1 has been entirely devoted to green tech. To have such a figure as ambassador is for us a fantastic opportunity to spread the word.
How has the 80 Power sold compared to the Sunreef 80 sailing catamaran, which debuted at the Cannes Yachting Festival a year earlier, in 2018?
The Sunreef 80 sail cat has had an outstanding response, exceeding our expectations sales wise – we’ve sold nearly 20. The sales of the 80 Sunreef Power are so far about a third of the sailing 80s. It’s very good progress for the powercat, given she only premiered last September.
We’re very satisfied with the demand and sales. The 80 Powers in build include an Eco version with our new solar-power system. Things are looking good for the 80 Power and the rest of the new Power range, with both the 60 and 70 under construction.
What are your hopes for Asia, having recently handed over a Sunreef 80 sailing cat to a Chinese owner and delivered sailing cats to Singapore owners in recent years?
The Asian market is extremely important to us, but it’s also distant and unique. We are happy to have a solid broker in China to bring us closer to our customers in Asia. Speedo Marine enjoys a great reputation and helps us have a good interaction with the Asian market.
As this is our annual ‘Charter Issue’, how does Sunreef Yachts Charter benefit members?
Many owners choose to charter their yacht for the obvious reason that it helps them balance their operational expenses. Sunreef Yachts Charter works as a central agent for many of our customers and their boats, providing a complete package of services including marketing, charter boat show participation, crew placement, bookings and so on.
We want our customers to enjoy a carefree ownership experience. All of the services, charter and yacht management are handled by an experienced team of professionals. Our charter company is a member
of the Worldwide Yachting Association, a guarantee of the highest ethical and professional standards.
How is the move to the new shipyard progressing and what will the site include?
All in all, we have eight hectares (80,000sqm) of land including roughly 30,000sqm of covered buildings, which include the CNC hall and the woodwork shop, both already operational. The new yard also manufactures moulds now. Part of the new assembly halls should be ready for use by the end of the year, same as the new offices, so we should be moving offices by then.
For the 49M Sunreef Power, our biggest yacht so far, we have created a dedicated superyacht hall measuring 70m long and 40m wide. Construction has already started following a demanding design phase. We are due to launch it in the second half of 2021.
How will you feel when you eventually close your facilities at the legendary Gdansk Shipyard, which has such a special history, including for Sunreef since 2002?
It’s obviously an important chapter in Sunreef Yachts’ history. I see our time there and our move as a good thing, an evolution. I don’t think I will be sad to leave, but I’m sure I will be proud. The aura of the historic yard is unique, but we need to evolve and move.
After Sunreef doubled its 2018 turnover last year, what do you predict for this year considering the impact of Covid-19?
We will still be doubling our 2019 results. Despite the global situation, we are maintaining good progress. There’s a little less demand than we anticipated, but no dramatic change as of now.
Assuming the Cannes Yachting Festival goes ahead, are the 70 sail cat and 60 Power on schedule to have world premieres at the show?
Yes. The 70 sail cat is on the water already and joins the 50, 60 and 80 in the range. All models seem to be enjoying nice success, so I’m excited to see the feedback on the 70.
The first 60 Sunreef Power is well advanced and although it’s much smaller than the 80 Power, the space on board should still be a very positive surprise. The model still offers an aft garage and platform, and there’s a massive flybridge with room for a spa pool. She should be the most comfortable cat in her size range on the market, and on top of that, fully customisable.
Have there been any design updates on the first 100 Power, sold earlier this year?
The 100 Sunreef Power follows the design characteristics of the 80 Sunreef Power, but of course offers much more volume. Like her smaller sisters, she will be fitted with a hydraulic aft platform and a
The use of the main deck will be interesting. For this particular yacht, the owner chose to split it between a bar and lounge area and a
Yacht Style was excited to hear about your Eco range, with plans for 70 and 80 models in both sail and power, starting with an 80 powercat. How important is this range to Sunreef?
Actually, our eco evolution started some time ago with an electric Sunreef 50 and Sunreef 60 sailing models, although without our new solar-power system. The first 80 Sunreef Eco powercat will feature integrated panels on an impressive amount of surface. The first one is definitely going to be demanding because it will be our debut with this technology.
The trend for eco yachting is the most positive thing that’s happened to the industry so far. We’ll see what the dynamic of such developments will be in two years, but I can tell you that we are putting a lot of effort into our Eco range and want to lead the market in eco-friendly catamarans.
How is your son Nicolas handling his role as Sunreef’s R&D Director, especially overseeing the new technology in the Eco range?
Nicolas is very involved in pushing the Eco range forward. I think the solar panel system his team is developing is a huge breakthrough. They use very thin and light panels, provided by one of the world’s top suppliers.
Also, the batteries are state-of-the art, with a very low density. Our R&D department observes all the current trends in e-mobility but instead of just implementing existing solutions, they aim much higher.
On the eco theme, how did you enjoy this year’s Africa Eco Race?
It was great, I really enjoyed it. It was fun to be back in the desert and make new friends. I don’t get to go rally racing as often as I’d like.
What are your other passions?
Besides cars, definitely work!
What about yachting?
I spend some time on yachts when I take a short holiday. I like to charter every once in a while, go to the British Virgin Islands. But I don’t have a boat. I’m far too busy to build one for myself.
The original article first appeared in Yacht Style Issue 54 (Charter Issue 2020) – see below:
To subscribe to Magzter version, visit: magzter.com/SG/Lux-Inc-Media/Yacht-Style/Fashion/
For more information or print subscription enquiries, email: firstname.lastname@example.orgAfter almost two decades at the historic Gdansk Shipyard, Sunreef is moving to a new 80,000sqm site (below) beside the Martwa Wisła river
Yacht Style has released Issue 54 (July-August), its Charter Issue for 2020. Flying Fox, the world's largest charter yacht, stars on the front cover of the 208-page magazine, as the 136m megayacht prepares to return to Asia later this year.