Andrew Lawrence, Head of Design, Princess Yachts
A generator of ideas in constant search: you need to find not only an interesting design solution, but also its adequate engineering implementation
People value details the most. In the interior, we have been paying great attention to them for a long time – this is our strength, and for the last year and a half we have been practicing the same approach to the exterior of the yachts, its aesthetics. Our new models: Princess V78, Y85, S78, F45 – look much richer in terms of color, textures, additional elements (consoles, teak, steel) …
We started this development (it is called Allure Collection) only for models of V- and S-classes, and then we tried to make it available for the entire model range. We identified a border point: yachts longer than 70 feet receive the entire “package” as standard, on smaller models it is available as an option. So you can even make a compact yacht like the F45 as luxurious as the large Y85. This gives the owner the opportunity to upgrade the boat, regardless of size and type, adds personality … It seems that these are just details, but we spent a lot of effort, time and money on their development. And it's cool to make your yacht unlike others.
It is the details and color – that is what changes the impression. And yet – the light: we started working with lighting consultants to remove unnecessary glare, we develop different lighting modes for each room, depending on the situation. The invited experts gave our designers and engineers the necessary knowledge. It is very important to turn to specialists for help in an area where you yourself are not a recognized expert.
Almost all of our competitors put a lot of effort into improving both the design and the production process. This area generally attracts people who are trying to do something different. We all have a lot to learn from the automotive industry, and first of all – production methods, for example, to produce one model in several versions and bring the product to the market faster. It takes 25–27 months to develop a new yacht from scratch – from an idea to launching it in production. But on facelift – 6-7 months: less time, less investment, less work, while the lineup remains fresh. We also look at the automotive world from the standpoint of external design, attention to interior details and service features. It makes sense to bring all this into the world of yachting.
Our design team actually consists of three “sectors”. We work with the bureau of Bernard Olesinski and with the Pininfarina team. Together we are stronger, although it took us months to learn to understand each other better, to see the strengths of each.
There are many tricks to visually lengthen a boat. Say, you can extend the side windows, work with lines and surfaces. There are methods for "increasing" the internal volumes, in particular, using color schemes … Yes, in a sense, this is cunning, but we add real space, trying, for example, to make the flybridge as long as possible – on the new F45 it’s the same like the next in a row. And on the Y85, we also expanded the flybridge by extending it over the side walkways of the main deck.
There are many difficulties in design, one of them is production requirements. Still, a yacht is primarily a vehicle with a certain set of functions. You go on a boat, sleep on it, cook, eat, jump into the water, repair (you break something) … The most important thing is to put it all together without diving into compromises, and make everything beautiful. We don’t touch on some ideas that are already on the market – until we find their absolutely perfect engineering embodiment for life.
Jerry Laptorn, Layout Manager
The inconspicuous master who will “build” your yacht even before the shipyard does it
People begin to evaluate the space in the interior only when something goes wrong. You expect that you will be able to move freely on the yacht, sit comfortably, look through the windows and, most importantly, don’t “fit in” with your head. The only way to make sure that the designers have created the right interior for each new Princess model is to build a detailed life-size mockup.
There are six of us in a team, and usually at the same time we build two or three of these objects. We start with paper sketches, mark the layout of the future yacht on the floor with high accuracy, then go to the CAD files (created in the computer-aided design system) that we receive from the design department.
We are all experienced carpenters, joiners and fitters; I myself came to work at Princess Yachts in 1976. Accuracy is everything! When plywood is sanded and painted, you might even think at first that it is fiberglass. Such layouts are extremely important not only for designers, but also for sales managers: they can offer potential customers a look at the layout of the new model. We try to make the greatest possible detail: all angles and curves, lighting, even the density of the filler for the seats. So you get the full impression of how the finished yacht will feel inside. All cabinets and drawers are fully operational. If the design team wants to try, for example, a different type of hinge for doors, we will do, install and make sure that everything works perfectly.
In the process, you learn many interesting things. On one recent project, we installed new LED cords for lighting on the layout of the main deck and found that when the spotlights were heated, the cord begins to sag, which would probably have manifested itself in the construction of the first yacht. Therefore, we came up with a new system for their fastening.
My department is a long stone building called "Cable Car". Here in the Georgian era ropes were made for warships. It was built in 1766 and was used for various purposes: for example, there is a cell near my office where criminals were hanged to carry out the sentence. Apparently, this place was often used before: the ceiling beam and the hatch in the floor look worn out. But, given that the hatch is still in working condition, it is made, like everything else here, in good faith.
Layout development is strictly confidential: we work behind closed doors, on the upper floors of the distant buildings of the South Shipyard. From our workshops I see almost the entire coast where I grew up, an old estate where my father worked as a huntsman. You know, because in my heart I’m still a villager, I go hunting, like my four sons.
Martin Hamley, Carpenter
In the modern yachting industry, new technologies and traditional skills exist side by side
I am one of the 80 carpenters working at Princess Furniture in Koypul. We create every wooden element that you can see on board your yacht. From bulkheads to closet doors, from beds to dining tables – everything is done and assembled with constant perfectionism.
I always liked working with wood. I did this at home and at school, then studied the profession in college. Then he worked for 10 years with a manufacturer of carpentry: windows, doors, stairs. So I gained my professional qualifications. In the 20 years that I have been at Princess Yachts, I have seen how our traditional woodworking and assembly skills are complemented by high-tech machines and computer simulations. This is not only a question of efficiency and cost, but also quality. Program-controlled machines give precision, but wood is a natural material with its inherent variability, so many traditional skills are needed even for simple assembly to ensure the level of quality that we need.
The smallest objects include several components, but in large ones the number of elements can reach four hundred. And everything should work perfectly. Our designers now require more smooth lines than before, so we use vacuum presses to help create complex curves and different thicknesses. A few years ago it was impossible. Microwaves and radio frequency presses form multi-layer veneer panels that adorn almost every bed. Cherry wood trim, once popular, is now virtually replaced by oak and walnut. But we still use cherries in the elements of dark wood: coffee and dining tables.
In 2015, I was awarded the John Helmore Award for high quality work. John was my great friend. We studied together at the same college in Plymouth and then did not even imagine that in a few years we would both work at Princess Yachts. He was an absolutely fantastic master, and his work served as a source of inspiration for the whole team. It is a pity that he is no longer with us, but for me it was a great honor to be the first to receive an award in his memory. After all, like John, I'm not just a carpenter – I'm a real perfectionist.
Paul Roch, Test Engineer
Quality is never without control: Princess is a complex multi-step process
Looking at what we are doing, you probably ask: “Seriously? Well, the job is to turn on / off the lights and check the tables! ” However, on each new boat, before she leaves the shipyard, it is necessary to conduct about 3000 inspections. The test folder, for example, for a 20-meter Princess S65 yacht has a thickness of more than 6 cm. Some checks seem more important than others, but believe me: they are all necessary. Imagine that we did not notice something absolutely trivial: for example, the masters forgot to install kilblocks for the tender. It is easy to rectify the situation, but until this is done, the owner of the yacht cannot take the tender on board and go to sea to relax with his family. So absolutely everything is important.
The heart of the yacht is the engine compartment, stuffed with all kinds of equipment: air conditioning units, hydraulics, huge engines … It all works independently and everything needs to be checked. The hold space is also full of a variety of equipment. A lot of time is spent looking into each hatch.
While the boat is on the keel blocks, we carry out some checks; then it is launched into the water and kept on slings – the next phase of inspections, which takes another couple of hours. The most important thing here is hydraulic systems, because they are powered by engines and cannot be tested in boathouses. If there are any leaks, we usually find them within the first hour. Every time you hope that the hydraulic fluid does not flood the entire engine compartment, as in a horror movie. I know this happens.
Sea trials begin only after the boat has passed all the previous stages of inspections. We drive the vessel in the full engine speed range to make sure that the speed and controllability parameters are normal, everything is in order and the vessel is ready for delivery to the owner.
Modern motor yachts are extremely complex. I was educated in the field of engine design and I can say that even the largest truck is simple compared to Princess 88. I came to the shipyard in 1989 when I was 21 years old; then I left and returned again in 1997. He worked as an engineer in the construction of yachts, then became the leader of the group, supervising the construction of more than 150 Princess 64 hulls – it was a very popular model. And four years ago he moved to the test department.
Our team is based on Newport Street in Plymouth and is responsible for testing all the models under construction here: from Princess F43 to Princess Y85 Motor Yacht. And absolutely everyone is subjected to equally intensive expert checks. When I first visit a new yacht, the very understanding of how many people created it and how many hours of work was invested is a source of pride for me. Our work is the last in the list of thousands of these works. And each plays a crucial role in ensuring that your Princess meets your expectations as much as possible.
Michal Tomashchuk, acoustic engineer
Revolutionary expert responsible for peace and quiet
I work together with shipbuilding engineers, but I am my own department, consisting of one person and responsible for noise and vibration. Rather, for their absence. The reason for the low-frequency vibration is technical – working mechanisms, but the psychological effect of them is discomfort. Sound and vibration can be measured with instruments, although there is a subjective perception of them. Do you want the yacht to be quiet and calm on the go? We, too.
I was the Princess coordinator in a government-sponsored research project to suppress jet noise and came up with a test bench that we now use to analyze the effectiveness of insulation materials and panels used in yacht structures. This is a concrete “box” weighing 4.5 tons with walls 250 mm thick and placed inside speakers that can produce 140 dB. A lot: technically – a “pain threshold”. We place the panel on top and sample the sound intensity to create a 3D map of noise and vibration. This will show designers exactly how the panel vibrates, and they can understand where more rigidity is needed.
I think you do not even assume that there is a difference, to put a thermal insulating material (Thinsulate) on top of or under the rubber layer; or which side should be the foam … But there is a difference. One of our projects – actively damping the vibration of the on-board generator – helped to significantly reduce noise. This is a great achievement, believe me. While we still can not offer this solution to the owners of the yachts, but we have the knowledge, and one day they can come in handy. This is a very interesting technology.
My task is to make Princess yachts the best on the market in terms of noise and vibration. In the past, struggling with vibration, replaced propellers, shafts, thrust bearings and engine mounts. With the new tools that I developed, we can pinpoint the cause and deal with it.
I studied in Krakow and came to the University of Cranfield on a student exchange program; came to Princess in 2013. Acoustics is a very capacious discipline, and as soon as the engineers understood my capabilities, they immediately began to attract me everywhere. In this sense, the Princess 30M is my brainchild. I think this is the first yacht of its class, designed with all the principles of acoustics; I'm sure she is the quietest.
In addition to work, I enjoy motorcycles and music. He played the guitar long before he began to study sound. I can immerse myself in music without analyzing it in terms of harmony, vibration and frequency. Well, at least I think I can. Perhaps it’s even better that I play heavy metal.
Text Olga Selezneva Photo by Princess Yachts