The luxury yacht builder used by Rafa Nadal and Fernando Alonso to open a yard in Ras Al Khaimah

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A Polish luxury yacht company will soon open a shipyard in Ras Al Khaimah.

Sunreef Yachts is set to open its first overseas center in the United Arab Emirates to meet growing demand from the Middle East and Asia.

The company’s clients include tennis star Rafael Nadal and Formula 1 champions Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg.

“The UAE and Dubai are great because it’s a booming market,” said Francis Lapp, President and Founder of Sunreef Yachts. The National in an interview in Gdansk, Poland, at the company’s headquarters.

It is an investment of 100 million dirhams. We will start with 50 people and in two, three years we will perhaps increase to 600 or 800 people

Francis Lapp, Sunreef Yachts

“In Ras Al Khaimah, we will manufacture the same luxury catamarans that we manufacture here in Gdansk.

“It’s a Dh100 million [$27.2m] investment. We are going to start with 50 people and in two, three years, we will grow to maybe 600 or 800 people.

The company has a center in the port city in northern Poland with more than 1,000 employees for the design and in-house production of the elegant yachts.

In its workshops on the Baltic Sea coast, double-hulled catamarans from compact 50ft to 140ft transatlantic are tailor-made for each customer.

Links to big buyers

Mr Lapp said that while other European shipbuilders have often based their second factory in Turkey, he has seen better opportunities in the United Arab Emirates.

“I think it will be a very strong market to reach Australia, the ocean region, the Middle East and countries like India and China as well,” he said.

“Also, I know people from Ras Al Khaimah, it’s a good place.”

Poland accounts for more than half of European Union yacht exports, according to 2021 European Union data.

The country is the world’s eighth largest exporter of yachts and produces around 22,000 motor, sailing and luxury boats, 95% of which are exported.

The big buyers of Polish yachts are in Europe, Turkey, Russia, Canada, Australia, China, Japan, Thailand and the Middle East.

Sunreef has offices in Gdansk, Dubai and Miami and specializes in double-hulled catamarans which enthusiasts say offer more stability and larger living space than traditional yachts.

Floating villas

Fitness area in the paneled outdoor area.

Considered luxury vacation “floating villas”, the elegant models feature polished walnut wood, natural oak interiors with rose gold and brass finishes, gleaming granite countertops in the spacious kitchen and dining areas .

The yachts are equipped with private cabins, walk-in closets, large windows in fully equipped gyms for ocean-view workouts, sundecks, a spa pool and lounges that double as a cinema area outside.

Jet skis are stored in garage cabins in larger yachts, while hydraulic platforms can be lowered to create a gangway and have a beach club setting for deep sea entertainment.

The RAK shipyard is part of the company’s expansion plans to cope with rising orders and a growing appetite for luxury travel.

There has been a surge in superyacht sales during the Covid-19 pandemic, with the wealthy buying boats to avoid travel restrictions.

The trend is expected to continue with increased demand for exclusive locations away from crowded vacation destinations in the post-Covid travel boom.

Superyachts are defined as boats over 24 meters or 78 feet that generally need a crew and price starts from $2 million, reaching well over $20 million.

Sales of luxury ships rose more than 8% in the first nine months of 2021 compared to the same period before the pandemic in 2019, according to Superyacht Group, an industry publication.

Ecological catamarans

The Great White, a 23.95 meter Sunreef Power catamaran owned by tennis superstar Rafael Nadal and intended for long cruises.

At the Gdansk shipyard, engineers and workers were busy preparing fully customized ships.

“We are injecting superyacht quality into multihull architecture,” Lapp said.

“We are so excited about renewable energy and green technologies in our design. It’s a new journey on ultra-modern solar catamarans.

Two-time F1 champion Alonso was recently in Dubai sailing the latest version of Sunreef.

The all-electric yacht promises quiet, fuel-free cruising and incorporates ultra-lightweight solar panels throughout the body through the hull, mast and roof.

Propulsion is 100% electric and when using sail, the vessel generates power from the movement of the propellers.

Alonso ordered his first yacht from Sunreef – an eco-electric catamaran that he wanted to combine green technology, lifestyle and comfort.

“I really wanted to build a catamaran because I wanted to take advantage of more space and all the other benefits that multihulls bring,” he said in a statement.

“My vision was luxury craftsmanship of the highest quality.

“It will be my first yacht. I want the yacht to always be ready to go. Sometimes I spontaneously go into the sea, so I want to make sure the yacht is reliable.”

Two years ago, tennis star Nadal and his wife were closely associated with the look of the 80ft multihull yacht designed for long cruises which he commissioned for his 38th birthday.

He opted for additions such as an outdoor jacuzzi for wider open spaces and chose muted grays and beiges for the interior.

Appointed Great Whitethe yacht helped him relax with his family during breaks from his tough training regimen.

“As an island person like me, the sea is part of our lives,” he said in a statement at the time.

“I wanted to feel at home.”

Updated: July 09, 2022, 04:00

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