Francis Lapp Founder and CEO of Sunreef Yachts
Francis Lapp, founder and CEO of Sunreef Yachts shares with us his vision and insights of the company and the brand.
How has the past year been for SUNREEF Yachts? We see lots of activities, launches and deliveries. Tell us more.
The past year has been the shipyard’s most dynamic so far. Between showcases in Miami, Singapore, Cannes, Monaco or Fort Lauderdale we have created an entirely new range of sailing catamarans, set a sailing superyacht afloat and launched an ultramodern multihull day cruiser model – the 40 Open Sunreef Power. While expanding our construction facilities in Poland, we have also engaged in developing a Dubai-based production site. All these efforts have paid off in a very important increase in sales.
SUNREEF Yachts celebrated 15 years of activity in 2017: what are your major milestones and highlights?
It really is hard to sum up 15 years of this amazing adventure. When we started out, we were underestimated by most of the industry and our potential customers. We had to work hard and earn our place on the market. Our first big achievement was the launch of the world’s first luxury cat with a flybridge. From then, we kept on surprising the industry with new, exciting concepts and ideas. We’ve launched the world’s first luxury power cat with oceanic range, some of the world’s biggest sailing catamarans, the first catamaran-superyacht with a folding mast and have squeezed 300sqm of space from a 68-footer. Right now, we are working on a hydrofoil version of our 40-foot day cruiser. We’re always hungry for more.
For the past 10 years, you have decided to split your production between power and sailing catamarans. Looking at your current range, what models are particularly popular?
Our new day cruiser, the 40 Open Sunreef Power is gaining more and more attention these days. It’s an exciting model with loads of living space, powerful engines and unlimited options for customisation including a genuine diamond coating for the hulls. She’s both fast and stable, a fantastic lifestyle platform. After her Dubai premiere I can say that this model is a rising star. We are now bringing her to the Singapore Yacht Show. At the same time our new range of sailing catamarans has been very successful. The positive feedback and interest have exceeded our expectations. We came up with a range of 50-, 60- and 80-foot luxury sail yachts with a classically inspired look. This fusion of advanced technology and authentic marine design has turned out to be the exact answer to the needs of the discerning yachtsmen.
What is SUNREEF’s trend today on Asian markets in particular? How do you see the yachting scene evolving in Asian markets?
There is a global trend for catamarans and Asia is part of it. We are happy to observe the evolution of the Asian yachting scene, but at the same time, we would like to strengthen our presence here. Luckily, we have great brand ambassadors who contribute to our reputation. The Sunreef 62 Annette 2 is owned by the commodore of one of Singapore’s oldest sailing clubs – a great endorsement for us. The Sunreef Supreme 68 Eagle Wings – also based in Singapore is a real day-charter machine. I think Asian customers really pay much attention to onboard comfort and living space and I think we have the answer to that.
Customisation and tailor-made approach are some of your key words. How closely do you interact with your clients/owners in order to constantly evolve your design or innovate your product?
We always take the time to get to know our owners. We believe that this is the only way we can deliver a truly bespoke product. All composite, stainless steel, wood, carbon and upholstery works are carried out in-house to ensure a quick and accurate response to customer requests. The interior of a Sunreef Yachts catamaran always reflects her owner’s personality. We get to work with customers from all around the world and their ideas motivate us to push our limits. This rule also applies to technical solutions. Our attitude is to be constantly open to fresh ideas and give the owners the creative freedom they need. It is a challenging but very satisfying experience.
The Charter segment appears to be key for SUNREEF, as illustrated with EAGLE WINGS in Singapore for instance? What particular support (assistance, advice, etc.) do you give to clients/owners who wish to charter their yachts?
I believe catamarans make amazing charter yachts. Not only are they stable and safe, but they also offer lots of living space in comparison to monohulls. Another advantage is the shallow draft they have. With a cat you can access the most remote anchorages and enjoy a safe journey with your family. This is something that I realized years ago. In 1998, I started a small travel business with a couple of 46-foot catamarans in Madagascar. Today, Sunreef Yachts Charter has crewed, luxury boats all over the globe and is member of the prestigious MYBA association. Our charter business also helps us a lot in terms of sales. Potential buyers like to live the experience of cruising on a luxury catamaran before they commit to a purchase. This works much better than any inspection or sea trial. Now, while charter is important to us, it also plays an important role for the owners. They often choose to charter their boats out to reduce the operational costs to a minimum, and it works brilliantly. We want our family of owners to enjoy a hassle-free ownership experience. That’s why we offer both yacht and charter management.
SUNREEF is obviously a brand that is more and more well-known and appreciated worldwide. How do you market the “Made in Poland” label? What challenges or advantages do you face?
Marketing the “Made in Poland” label used to be a challenge back in the days. When we presented our very first catamaran in Monaco 15 years ago, nobody considered Poland as a producer of luxury goods. It took us some time to gain a solid reputation. Today, we have a brand synonymous with a high-end, bespoke product. Building in Poland presents so many advantages. The country has strong traditions in shipbuilding, so I have access to reliable and skilled workforce. The weather here isn’t always great, but I can’t complain about the Baltic sea. It’s a good environment to test a boat.
In anticipation of the next Fall boat shows in Cannes, Monaco and Fort Lauderdale, what novelties will you be presenting?
We have our new range of sail catamarans coming with first launches to take place this year. Otherwise, we are very excited to bring the 40 Open Sunreef Power to Cannes. It also looks like our family of power cats is soon going to grow!