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SUPERYACHT #501
January 2004

Article selected from our quarterly magazine dedicated to the largest and most luxurious boats with information, interviews, technical articles, images and yachting news


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Interview by Corradino Corbò to Peter Lürssen


LÜRSSEN, GUARANTEEING THE BEST WHATEVER THE COST

Friedrich Lürssen loved commercial boats and adored experimenting and these two factors led him to set up in 1875 a truly special boatyard, not far from Brema, in Northern Germany. After building fishing boats, readily appreciated for their exceptional seaworthiness, he started building record breaking boats, innovative yachts and even hyper-technological gondolas to be used for the Zeppelin airships. This perfect mix of tradition and advanced research was passed down through four generations until today. Nowadays, the Lurssen boatyard is one of the most important in the world for its production of mega-yachts and special military vessels.

From their sober and elegant office, Friedrick and Peter Lürssen can see just a small part of the 350,000 square-metre surface on which their boatyard stands. The yard includes a section of the quays on the banks of the Weser River, a couple of factories and a private heliport where the world's most powerful men land, anxious to see their floating kingdoms under construction.

Nevertheless, beyond the limits of what the eye can see, the two brothers' control goes wide and deep in all directions thanks to an organisation that fears no comparison. It could not be otherwise for a company that builds yachts of almost frightening sizes - 40 to 150 metres long - but which in reality has no limits, neither of size nor of value, because this is exactly what their clients are looking for. This is the topic of our conversation with Peter, who dedicates a whole morning to us, accompanying us around the boatyard on a visit that starts from one of the most top-secret areas of the Lürssen empire: that of the mock-ups.

What exactly happens in this large factory, where taking photographs is strictly forbidden?

Here we produce true copies - with authentic materials - of the furnishings chosen by the client, in all their possible variants. In this way, the Owner can enter his cabin and "experience" it before the yacht is built and decide, for example, between one kind of wood, lighting, etc. and another. Obviously this goes for all cabins and onboard areas that imply a personal choice and this is one of the aspects that makes us stand out from other boatyards that operate in the same field.

Is this why they say that your clients fall in love with you and your personnel rather than with your boats?

Apart from the slogans, it's true that what the Owner of one of our yachts is more likely to be struck by is the total passion that we have to satisfy all his wishes. I would like to add that, as far as this goes, we are so in tune with our clients that often we meet certain needs even before they are requested. Nevertheless, we take all requests seriously, however strange they may seem and we strive to achieve exactly what is expected of us. Which, in a much wider sense, concerns the general concept of product quality - extending quality even to hidden details and structures, which are equally important for whoever invests so much money in a single product. In fact, it is as if the Lürssen name were branded onto every material that make up the yacht, from the hull structure to the upholstery, from crew training to the screws fastening a hinge.

Tell us about crew training, which is another feather in the Lürssen's cap.

Well, it's pretty simple. A stylish yacht needs highly specialised personnel for the engine-room, on deck and in the cabins. We train them at different times, in the chronological order I mentioned, which corresponds to three precise phases of work progress. For example, when fitting out the engine room there wouldn't be much point in training a chef, while it would be extremely important to have a technician helping you.

Briefly, this is another aspect of the principle according to which everything must be "home made". However, the yard also makes use of renowned professionals, as is the case of designers.

The question of "everything being home made" is not a principle, but the consequence of the need of being able to guarantee the maximum quality for every building aspect of our yachts. Therefore, if a circumstance requests entrusting the design to a master of a certain style trend, we involve him in our project.

As was the case of Jon Bannenberg, who died in May of last year.

That's right. The great Bannenberg left us after having finished the drawings for a yacht that we will launch next year and that, without any doubt will be the best monument to his memory we can honour him with.

Let's finish off with some market data. The mega- yacht market seems to be impervious to crises. Nevertheless, is it really so "frozen"?

Actually, from a geographical aspect, there have been no changes in a long time. The United States come in first with over fifty percent of orders, followed by Japan, Europe and the Middle East. However, we are keeping a careful eye on the evolution of the Eastern European market that could open up, most especially Russia which, at the moment, looks to be the most promising country.