From the creation of the motorboat to the building of the Azzam, Lürssen have helped shape modern superyachts
Thoughts of yachts invariably bring to mind cruising around the Mediterranean, or charters through the Caribbean. Perhaps a cocktail party at the marina in Monaco. However, where they are built has little to do with the amount of sun and the warmth of the water and, with the country’s worldwide reputation for engineering excellence, its little surprise that one of the most important shipyards in the world can be found in Germany.
Founded way back in 1875, Lürssen is a name which has not only created some astounding yachts, but one that has repeatedly redefined the industry. Even in their early years when building racing rowboats, the shipyards were renowned for their quality and uncompromising standards, yet it was just a decade later that Lürssen turned their industry on its head with the creation of the first motorboat.
In the following years the shipyard’s reputation for excellence was matched by the sheer speed of the motorboats and yachts produced, with many a motorboat racing champion built in their Bremen facility. By 1925 Lürssen had built their 10,000th ship, two years before their OHEKA II yacht broke the world record in knots for a ship of its kind. However, it was not just speed in which Lürssen set the world benchmark.
In 1971 the 71-metre vessel CARINTHIA VI was revealed. Designed by Jon Bannenberg, it was a form never before seen in the world. Its sleek, aerodynamic shape and stepped decks, its white surfaces and wooden floors are now integral elements of the vast majority of yacht designs the world over. Its narrow shape allowed it to cut through the water while the interiors were the height of luxury, creating what is today recognised as the quintessential luxury yacht.
Today Lürssen is continuing to innovate, constantly striving to better not just their competition but themselves. At their heart however Lürssen are a family company. Owned by the fifth generation of the founding family, the application of these family values to their building means that each yacht that leaves the yard is designed, built and cared for as if it were a true masterpiece – which they often are. This individuality is the key to Lürssens current position as a world leader in custom-built yachts.
Rather than adapting an existing design or selling a pre-built yacht, Lürssen work with individual clients from start to finish, conception to production, to ensure that every line of the hull, the dimensions of every room and the technological aspects that drive it all are precisely as they should be. Each yacht is built at one of four shipyards, each specialising in a different size of vessel, with internationally-renowned designers helping bring the initial ideas to life. The result is a yacht which is more than a simple ship, but is in essence a dream of luxury realised.
From their earliest years innovation has been at the forefront of everything Lürssen have created. Refreshingly they see not just the actual fruits of this but those individuals that, in the future, will continue this tradition of innovation. This they cultivate each year by inviting the finalists of Boat International’s Young Designer of the Year to visit their impressive shipyards.
More than a simple tour, the visit is a chance for the designers of tomorrow to get to grips with the real-life scale of the yachts in question and see in detail the facilities in which they are born. They are introduced to a number of experts with unmatched knowledge of the industry, with the designers in turn presenting their potential projects and future constructions. A two-way street of knowledge, while the young designers benefit from years if not decades of dedicated expertise, the already-established professionals in turn are privileged to discover what the next wave of innovators are working on.
This year the six finalists were fortunate enough to see an important event for Lürssen – the launching of the Azzam, the world’s largest yacht. Built by Lürssen and project managed by superyacht specialist Burgess, the Azzam is arguably the future of superyachts. This goes for more than its size. Big though it is, it was one of the fastest and most technologically advanced builds in recent years, owing in large part to the shipyard itself and the expertise that went into the project from all areas. It proved that, no matter the ambitious nature of a yacht, it can still be created with speed, efficiency and excellence in uncompromising fashion.
For well over a century Lürssen has been at the forefront of shipbuilding. With a history of innovation and a future crop of young designers to support, they are a name that is all but guaranteed to maintain their position out in front. With projects even more ambitious than the Azzam on the horizon, the world of superyachts is looking to Lürssen to see what’s next.