King Of Megayachts Peter Lürssen On Building Bespoke Yachts Of All Sizes

The largest yacht in the world, the 180-meter Azzam, at Lürssen’s shipyard
The largest yacht in the world, the 180-meter Azzam, at Lürssen’s shipyard

Photo Credit: Lürssen

During September Peter Lürssen, the world’s leading megayacht builder was very busy. First, he launched the 135-meter Crescent from his company’s Rendsburg, Germany facility. This new superyacht is Lürssen’s seventh-largest vessel constructed both regarding length and gross tonnage. Then, he dealt with a fire at the Lurssen shipyard in Bremen that burned for two days. Next, at the Monaco Yacht Show, he presented a book called The Concept Collection which features yacht designs for 62-meter boats. The book includes nine different design ideas created by the finalists of the 2018 Young Designer of the Year Award. These designers are presenting fresh and innovative new vessels.

Lürssen also announced a new contract to manufacture a 54-meter vessel for a very experienced Asian yacht owner. Bannenberg & Rowell Design will design the boat. The delivery of this project, code-named 13800, is scheduled for spring 2021. Lürssen is actively targeting projects in the 50 to 60-meter range, and the successful conclusion of Project 13800 is the first step in re-establishing the brand as a serious builder for yachts in that size bracket.

The author with Peter Lürssen at the 2018 Monaco Yacht Show
The author with Peter Lürssen at the 2018 Monaco Yacht Show

Photo Credit: Olivia Hsu Decker

Lürssen is known for building yachts that are over 90-meters such as the 163-meter Dubai, the 157-meter Dilbar, and the 180-meter Azzam. In the past 15 years, Lürssen has developed and delivered 15 superyachts that are over 90-meters. His clients include some of the world’s wealthiest billionaires like Larry Ellison, Paul Allen, and Roman Abramovich.

Lürssen comes from a long line of yacht builders. He is the fourth-generation of a 140-year-old dynasty that is based in Bremen, Germany. Lürssen and I first met in 2008 at an international superyacht award ceremony in Venice. A hands-on, hard-working, young, and energetic German, Lürssen is driving the success of his family business. At this year’s show, we sat down to discuss his new focus.

The 147.25-meter Topaz
The 147.25-meter Topaz

Photo Credit: Lürssen

Olivia Hsu Decker: You just delivered the 135-meter Crescent this month, tell me about this exclusive superyacht. Who’s the lucky owner?
Peter Lürssen: This is our seventh largest yacht both in length and tonnage. Some unique features include a multi-level atrium with full-length windows and two helipads. The upper deck helipad has a retractable helicopter hangar. I can’t reveal the owner’s name, all I can say is Crescent will be cruising mainly in Asian waters.

OHD: Why shift your focus to smaller yachts in the 50 to 65-meter range?
PL: While we are very grateful for the success of our large builds, it is essential not to forget that our core business is between 50 to 80 meters. Although the misconception is that Lürssen only builds large yachts, we have delivered a considerable number of smaller vessels over the last 15 years, including 29 under 90 meters. Over the same period, we have produced 15 yachts above 90 meters. We still build about one superyacht in the 90+ meter size per year, but now we have more young customers who want smaller and bespoke boats. As a result of our enhanced activities in this size bracket, we are engaging with many new clients.

The 2018 Young Designers of the Year winners
The 2018 Young Designers of the Year winners

Photo Credit: Lürssen

OHD: I saw your new book Concept Collection. Tell me about it.
PL: This book shows different designs from the fresh minds of the youngest designers in the industry. They received the same brief: Create a 62-meter Lürssen with consideration for how the yacht will be used for relaxing, playing, sleeping, eating, and entertaining. Each of them received the same technical requirements for crew and engine room layout, tender storage, and other technical standards.

OHD: What do you think of these young designers’ creations? Are they up to your standards?
PL: We were pleasantly surprised at the quality and innovation of their work! As we continue our journey of building yachts to meet market demands, we hope that clients will be inspired. We have great talents who will develop your dream Lürssen, regardless if it is 50 or 150 meters.  Over our long history of more than 140 years, we have been privileged to build boats of all shapes and sizes. From the wooden rowing boats of our humble beginnings to the large motor yachts we make today, we are proud of the vessels that we create for our clients. To fill market demand, we have recently re-emphasized our production of motor yachts between 55 and 75 meters.

The 155-meter Al Said
The 155-meter Al Said

Photo Credit: Lürssen

OHD: Two years ago, you acquired Blohm+Voss shipyard in Hamburg to strengthen your refit activities. How is this plan working out?   
PL: With the additional facilities in Hamburg, we now have unique capabilities and a second to none potential to undertake multiple massive refits at one time, all in Northern Germany. During the last year, more than a dozen yachts between 50 and over 100 meters have used the Lürssen facilities for modifications and maintenance works. Among them are some of the world’s most beautiful yachts such as Lady Moura, Rising Sun, Radiant, and Alfa Nero.

OHD: Do you find the refit business boring compared to a brand new build?
PL: Regardless who built the yacht and what age it is, there comes a time when it needs a refit, some repairs or even conversion. This is the work Lürssen undertakes with the German precision and pride which we are well-known for. Although the jobs are different from ship to ship, the aim is always the same. Once Lürssen has been involved, the yacht’s life expectancy and performance will be comparable to that of a new build, and the core value will be enhanced.   

156-meter Dilbar
156-meter Dilbar

Photo Credit: Lürssen

OHD: You have built many magnificent yachts. I have been on Solandge, the Quattroelle, and last year’s Areti. Do you have a favorite?
PL: It’s hard to say—like choosing which child you like among your children.

OHD: Speaking of children, are your three children active in the business?
PL: All the children are well-educated and capable of running the business, but it’s a matter of slowly introducing those children who are interested in the company. But it’s rather unlikely that all of them will be equally qualified and equally motivated.

The 126.2-meter Octopus
The 126.2-meter Octopus

Photo Credit: Lürssen

OHD: What do you do on vacation? Do you go yachting with clients?
PL: We don’t hang out with clients. Clients are clients. They are not buddies. But if they have a problem on the yacht during their yachting trips, we will send the service staff over to fix it.

OHD: I heard you are extremely secretive when it comes to clients’ identity and the superyachts you are building for them. How do you keep those huge yachts confidential?
PL: Each yacht and client has a reference number and a project code name when the contract is signed. We don’t talk about the client’s names. Our employees all know that it would jeopardize the deal if they let something slip. Everyone signs confidentiality agreements. We are not in the business for the glory. We don’t brag about what megayacht we are building for who and how much!

Another look at the largest yacht in the world, the 180-meter Azzam,
Another look at the largest yacht in the world, the 180-meter Azzam,

Photo Credit: Lürssen

OHD: Are your customers getting younger and demanding more hi-tech amenities?
PL: Yes, we see younger clients from the United States, Russia, and Asia. We see more demand for innovation and wellness facilities. Some of the yachts are similar to luxury hotels with gyms and spas. Water sports equipment are more important than sunbathing decks and the bar.

OHD: Do you think The Concept Collection and the young yacht designers of the 50-75 meter yachts might hurt Lürssen’s legendary super mega yacht business?
PL: Quality is what Lürssen is known for, size doesn’t matter. We have always built mid-size yachts too, and our shifting focus to 50-75 meters is to follow our clients’ demand. I shall see you at next year’s Monaco Yacht Show and give you an update!

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