We met with Francis Lapp, founder and CEO of Sunreef Yachts. French born, Polish by adoption, he was the first to dedicate himself to the construction of large-size entirely customised luxury catamarans
by Massimo Longoni
Every successful business needs to be fuelled by the passion and energy. Lapp launched his professional activity in the field of electrical energy and construction. After holding management positions in the main companies of the industry, he decided to establish his own company.
A passionate fan of rallies, he visited Poland for the first time to participate in a race held by the Warsaw Automobile Club. After having discovered Poland’s immense potential for development in the 90s, he decided to set up his own activity and soon became a successful manufacturer of electrical equipment for some of the biggest global brands. He later expanded into the supply of services such as the design and installation of electrical, sanitary and air conditioning systems for large industrial plants.
Poland is also the place where Francis Lapp developed a strong interest in sailing when he discovered the world of small regatta catamarans. This experience encouraged him to purchase his first large cruise catamaran. After purchasing several yachts, he decided to open a travel agency specialised in charters in the Indian Ocean.
The company grew rapidly in a time when customers were requesting increasingly large and comfortable catamarans. While he was trying to find these kinds of boats, Lapp noticed that there were no suitable yachts on the market. This pushed him to try his hand at building large-size and customised luxury multihulls. And that was the beginning of Sunreef Yachts. Francis Lapp opened a shipyard in Gdansk, a city with a long tradition in shipbuilding and a highly skilled workforce.
With the launch of the first 74-foot luxury ocean catamaran with flybridge in 2003, Sunreef Yachts embarked on a new era in the history of pleasure boating and triggered a revolutionary change in the philosophy of multihull design.
Francis Lapp, what is the situation of the catamaran market today? What are you expecting for the future and what’s your perception about it?
The market has seen a tremendous growth over the last two years and is now in full bloom. I’ve noticed an increasing interest for larger catamarans, which means that a part of the superyacht market is gradually shifting towards multihulls. The positive trends that we observe today herald a bright future for the industry. How will the market evolve? We will see more performance-oriented pleasure catamarans and an eco-friendly approach to cruising in general. The division between compact catamarans and real luxury multihulls should become more apparent with the exclusive end of the market seducing a growing number of superyacht buyers. Last but not least, we will surely see more catamaran brands emerging. You may have noticed that some monohull makers are already trying their hand at catamaran production.
How has your company changed and grown in the last years?
Luxury and bespoke work has been our domain from the very foundation of the company. Our aims haven’t changed, but the way we achieve them surely has. We’ve become more efficient and have a new shipyard in construction. This increase in our production capacity is a natural response to a growing number of orders. Also the size of the models within the range has seen a change. We build bigger boats as a general rule, but on the other hand we have also introduced smaller catamarans – a speedy 40-feet day cruiser and the sailing Sunreef 50. Bigger yachts include the80 Sunreef Power that we are currently building. We are constantly evolving, but our attitude towards bespoke craft will always remain the same. Some yacht makers will use the word “luxury” to describe their work, but deliver a mass product. Our business is the excellence of luxury. We take the time to meet our Owners, their families, their plans and dreams. It’s the only way we work.
What are the current and future developments?
Our new production facility is a major focus for us. We have 5 hectares of land and plans to set up over 20,000m2of production surface. Two new warehouses are already operative. The demand for our catamarans is growing and our facilities have to meet this demand. This new shipyard will also help us build bigger yachts. With a 35 meter long CNC machine, the biggest in Europe, we should be able to move towards the superyacht end of the market more efficiently.
Future strengths and strategy. Where do you see Sunreef Yachts within 10 years?
Talking about luxury catamarans, we are first in the world. Our goal is to enjoy the same status in 10 years’ time and build bigger boats.
What are your novelties for the next Boat Show in Cannes?
As you know, the festival splits its venue over two distinct sections this year –power and sailing yachts. While this is not an ideal situation for us, I am still pleased to say we have a world premiere for each section. Our new Sunreef 70 will debut in Cannes, showcasing along with the Sunreef 50, 60and 80. That way, the visitors will get to see the entire new sailing range on display. For the motor yacht part of the show we have a very important preview – the 80 Sunreef Power. This is the first of our new range and is a pure breed power catamaran: lots of living space, outstanding seaworthiness and top class design. Last but not least, our ultimate Med-toy,the 40 Open Sunreef Poweris also joining the line-up. This should be an exciting September.
(Francis Lapp, energy and passion – Barchemagazine.com – Aprile 2019)