Twenty years after its creation, the builder specializing in luxury catamarans never ceases to amaze. A look back at the success of a project created by a visionary French entrepreneur.

How can you believe that Sunreef Yachts is only celebrating twenty years of existence this year? How can you imagine that a shipyard has succeeded in radically changing the perception that we have of luxury catamarans in just two decades? This success, the Polish manufacturer owes it to the will and the work force of its founder.

However, nothing predestined Francis Lapp to become one of the most prominent protagonists in boating. Originally from a small Alsatian village, this 64-year-old entrepreneur gives free rein to his passion for electricity by tinkering in the garage of the family home. ” As a child, my father taught me to do everything myself. That’s why Sunreef doesn’t have many contractors. We do everything in-house “, he explains today.

After a first professional experience at Peugeot, Francis Lapp worked in a company specializing in electrical cabinets. Having a pronounced taste for travel, he does not hesitate when his boss offers him to go and work in Saudi Arabia. ” I’m the only one who raised my hand when he asked who wanted to leave“.

After this experience during which he participated in the construction of hospitals, he decided, on his return to France, to create his own electricity company. Invited in 1992 by the Warsaw Automobile Club, he discovered Poland. Noting that everything had to be done in the country after the fall of the communist regime, he left there two weeks later to set up a business.

In 1994, the major chain stores set up in the country, and our man began to work in electrical installation in hypermarkets and supermarkets. It was also in Poland that Francis Lapp discovered the joys of navigation, learning to sail aboard a Hobie Cat on a lake in Warsaw. Seduced by this practice, he went, at the end of the 2000s, to the Paris Boat Show to buy a model but left with… a 46-foot catamaran.

The boat is sent to Madagascar to be chartered. The entrepreneur then became aware of the lack of supply on this market, with no shipyard offering a luxury model. ” It was then that I decided to create Sunreef Yachts, drawing inspiration from the know-how and level of requirements of Italian shipyards. “. The yard’s first model measures 74 feet and has the particularity of being topped with a flybridge, a first for a catamaran.

This number one hull was exhibited at the Monaco boat show, where it aroused the interest of visitors, but they turned on their heels when they learned that the yard was located in Poland. The first decisive turning point for Sunreef will be the request of a Belgian client who, after having chartered the boat several times, asks Francis if he agrees to sell it to him.

The second key stage will be the meeting with Laurent Bourgnon, crossed under a Bedouin tent in the middle of Mauritania during a Paris-Dakar. The double winner of the Route du Rhum was looking for a large motor catamaran to travel with the family. “Sunreef built him the first 70 Power, a boat capable of crossing all the oceans. A few years later, another customer even traveled around the world with this model”.

With this model, Sunreef is stepping into the world of super yachts. Witness the creation, shortly afterwards, of a line of double-deck catamarans and the launch of an 82-foot model. Making custom models does not scare the builder either. ” One of our clients wanted to put his catamaran in a marina in Abu Dhabi, access to which requires passing under bridges. Not having met with success after consulting all the French and European shipyards, he came to see us. A week later, we submitted a project for a mast that tilts and raises in a minute “.

The commands keep coming. A 114 came out of the architects’ sketchbooks, at the request of the owner of the 74. At the same time, a Swiss client ordered a 102 footer. Sunreef then changes dimension and switches to the world of superyachts.

Year after year, Sunreef is making a name for itself but the success story could have ended. In January 2012, it is the drama. The whole factory burns – with the notable exception of the offices – including the boats that are about to be completed. ” My son advised me to close, because it was going to cause too much stress for me. But that same day, 70 workers were waiting for me to find out what we were going to do. I told myself that it had to continue “.

The same day, the molds and everything that can be saved is moved to the center of Gdansk. Like a Phoenix, driven by courage and unfailing will, Sunreef is rising from its ashes and the shipyard’s production is rapidly restarting. A new 80-foot sailboat is launched, before a new 60, which will later be available in 70, 50 and 100 feet.

We decided to build a brand new, modern, much more ecological factory. I think we have one of the finest factories in Europe in terms of technology “. Always driven by a desire for innovation, Francis Lapp then had the idea of ​​integrating solar panels into the hulls. ” We were already installing solar panels on the boats but that broke their design. We started experimenting. After a year, we managed to integrate the cells into the hull. It is much more resistant and aesthetic “.

Innovation, but also ecology are today at the center of the aspirations of the shipyard, which works on hydrogen, as well as on other technologies. ” Everyone is talking about electric cars, but boating is a little sidelined. There are no real anti-pollution laws in force in this sector. We got a little ahead of everyone else with our own standards “.

Still in action, Sunreef is currently building a factory in the United Arab Emirates, near Dubai, which will open next summer. ” This will allow us to be closer to customers in the Gulf and Australian customers, but also to markets which, in my opinion, will be expanding in the years to come, such as Oceania and Thailand. “. To always keep one step ahead…

SUNREEF in 10 dates

2002 Sunreef Yachts establishes its production site and offices in Gdansk, northern Poland.
2003 The builder is launching the Sunreef 74 CHE, the world’s first offshore catamaran with a flybridge.
2008 Launch of the Sunreef 70, the first double-deck motor catamaran with transoceanic range designed with Laurent Bourgnon.
2010 Launch of the Sunreef 114 CHE superyacht, the largest sloop-rigged catamaran in the world.
2012 Burning of all the workshops of the construction site. Sunreef is building a new state-of-the-art factory.
2013 Launch of the Sunreef 80 Carbon Line Levante, the world’s first carbon superyacht catamaran.
2014 Launch of the world’s first catamaran superyacht equipped with a folding mast.
2016 Launch of the Sunreef Supreme 68, the first yacht in the Sunreef Supreme range.
2019 Tennis player Rafael Nadal orders a Sunreef 80 Power.
2022 Launch of the Sunreef 80 Eco, the first yacht equipped with integrated solar panels.

SUNREEF 43M: The catamaran of all records

Sunreef has just unveiled the first images of its future 43-meter model, which will become the new flagship of the Eco range. This sailing Superyacht will be equipped with photovoltaic cell technology developed by the shipyard. Integrated into the hulls, mast and boom, they will allow it to produce enough energy to power two 200 kW electric motors.


Capable of accommodating up to 12 passengers, the Sunreef 43M will house a spectacular owner’s suite occupying the entire width of the boat. True to its custom policy, the yard allows owners to arrange the huge interior spaces as they wish.

Length 42.70m Construction Composite
Width 15.40m Maximum speed 14 knots
Motorization 2 x 200kW Guests/Crew 12/7
Pure water 5,000 liters Worksite Sunreef Yachts (Poland)

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