2017 is already here, and it brings with it a year with incredible perspectives with milestones superyachts to enter the history of the yachting industry. But more than this, we wanted to open this new year with advices from a real personality of the superyacht world, with an history facing three centuries and an incredible elegance in all creations through the years. Peter Lurssen, CEO of the world’s foremost superyacht builder Lürssen and creator of extraordinary superyachts pieces of art like M/Y AZZAM (180m), M/Y DILBAR (156m) or the world famous charter yacht M/Y ARKLEY (60m) who was the pride of Imperial during long years on the Charter market, gave to Imperial the honor to seat with us and give his overview on the yachting industry and his best tips for your next superyacht charter journey. An exceptional moment, a very instructive interview we are delighted to share with you below, available in our Imperial Charter Directory 2017 issue (digital or print). Between evolution of superyachts through the last 20 years, professional advices and best moments on board, Mr Peter Lurssen reviewed all topics for a complete and interesting interview. Among all the big names and family of our industry, Lürssen is synonymous of excellence, patience and extreme knowledge: alongside this interview, you will understand why.
IY: What makes Lurssen a particularly special builder?
PL: We come originally from a very intensive engineering background so we always engineer yachts in a very complete and thorough way. In 1886, my Great Grandfather worked alongside Gottlieb Daimler to build the first motorboat in the world. We have many engineering milestones like this in our history and that makes us very proud. We take things to a very strict and rigorous level. Every company has its priority, but we are the one company where technical engineering is the most important part. We combine that with a deep desire to really meet a client’s expectations, so as long as it’s possible to build, we are the company that can engineer it.
IY: How does your collaboration with Imperial work?
PL: Our very first project together was a 60-metre yacht seven years ago and we found that the confidence and trust grew very quickly in our relationship. That is usually a good foundation for high quality results and the last few years has continued to prove that.
IY: What are the chief difficulties in translating new, one-off designs into practical construction plans?
PL: We try to accommodate every wish of the client as long as it’s safe to build and safe to use both for the owner and the crew. Understanding what the client wants is of course essential but that also goes for the designer’s interpretation of the brief. How the client intends to use the yacht needs to be translated clearly and effectively – and once we have that understanding, we find that we can accommodate a great deal within the physical constraints of any given yacht.
IY: So what makes a great charter yacht?
PL: It’s a combination of factors but the most important factor is the crew. A good crew can make up for any shortcomings a yacht may have but a bad crew can spoil the experience even on a great yacht. From the deckhands and the stewardesses, with whom you have the most interaction, to the chef and of course the Captain, with whom you plan the itinerary and the travelling, the crew is absolutely vital. As far as the yacht itself goes, I do expect the on board systems to be very effective. For instance, one of the things I insist upon as a basic requirement from any charter yacht is quiet air conditioning, so I can enjoy my vacation without the need for ear plugs.
IY: Which yacht do you use for your own charter holidays?
PL: I charter lots of different yacht types from lots of different manufacturers, so if a potential client tells me he could get a yacht more affordably with a different builder, I can tell him from a well-informed perspective: “Well that’s fine. You go ahead, but you get what you pay for.” On a charter boat I try to understand what’s behind the panels and I can honestly say that a 20-year old Lurssen is certainly still ahead of many much younger yachts from other builders.
IY: So what would you say is the single best thing about a charter yacht?
PL: It’s a very intensive time with your family and friends and the social interaction is much better than when you’re ashore. Being at sea means you have a lot of time together; to share meals; to enjoy watersports; to go out as a group. Even very close family and friends can rarely have experienced such quality time. And if someone wants to do something different like read a book or do some work, there’s always the space on a yacht to go to a separate place for a little while. And even that feels different, because when you’re on a yacht, you’re not really gone. It’s that unique intimacy that makes a yacht vacation so special.
IY: What kind of on board toys do you most value?
PL: Everything in, on and under the water is fantastic. I’ve seen adults play with Seabobs just as much as kids. Wakeboarding and waterskiing is also great and we tend to carry jetskis as well. But any toy that makes you want to spend time on the water is perfect to have on board your yacht. I’ve very rarely watched television or a movie on a yacht because from simple board games to much more active, water-based entertainments, it’s all there for you.
IY: What has been your very best charter experience?
PL: It’s like asking “Which of your children do you like the most?” It’s impossible to answer. Of course, great moments depend on many factors, so it might be a wonderful dinner with your family in Capri or a night out somewhere with friends. We’ve had great times in Italy, Turkey and Greece but there are so many, I couldn’t pick just one.
IY: What is your favourite charter destination?
PL: The family and I always enjoy cruising around Italy, starting with Portofino, perhaps Portovenere and then on to Capri. And a few years ago, we also went to the Aeolian Islands. We were in a quiet area with very few yachts so that was really memorable.
IY: What’s your favourite charter season?
PL: The cold weather is not for me. I would definitely go for the Mediterranean summer season. I like the sea to be 26 degrees. It needs to be nice and warm and not too crowded. That’s why Italy is so perfect.
IY: What kinds of design features do you expect to see on charter yachts in the next five to ten years?
PL: Many of the yachts that we have built and are building have a very large aft swim platform. You can of course have a big sundeck and Jacuzzi on the top level of a yacht, but I see more and more activity on the aft swim platform and in the water – and that’s a philosophy many of my clients follow. With a nice seating area at the aft end of the main deck, you can talk with friends on the swim platform; and the swim platforms themselves are now so big that you can cover them with seating too.
That’s definitely one change in approach compared to a couple of years back and so is the interaction between a yacht and the water. About ten years ago, we started installing brightly lit glass panels to enable guests to watch the underwater world in comfort and that has also continued to gain in popularity. It brings sealife closer to the yacht and guests closer to the sea and that’s something I believe designers will continue to develop and improve in the future.
IY: If you could own just one yacht, what would it be?
PL: I would have to ask my wife that question, but for me, it changes. It would certainly be a yacht that is big enough to accommodate the whole family and our friends – and also one that enables me to feel close to the water. At the moment, a yacht like CORAL OCEAN (formerly CORAL ISLAND) would be very high on my list. She was one of the first yachts I ever built and although she’s now 23 years old, I think she is absolutely outstanding; one of the iconic yachts of Jon Bannenberg. She was one of the first, if not the very first, with a beach-style interior and that has obviously now go on to be used and developed by so many others. She also enables very easy movement on board and I like a yacht where life is casual. No formal dinners – just a relaxed environment where I can feel comfortable wearing a linen shirt and shorts.
Full interview available below. Text copyright Imperial - All rights reserved / Pictures: copyright Imperial - Lürssen Yachts