Diane interviews Mathias Maurios, Naval Architect and parnter at VPLP Design in France, about designing catamarans and in particular the Lagoon series. VPLP has designed all the over 6,000 Lagoons ever built. He has very interesting comments on the future of catamaran design.
You can find out more about VPLP Design on their website and email Mathias at ( firstname.lastname@example.org ).
We’re here again with another CatamaranSite interview. This time with Mathias Maurios. Can you tell tell us about yourself and how you became involved with VPLP?
My name is Mathias Maurios, and I’m a naval architect at VPLP Design. I started with VPLP in 2000, so that will be 23 years ago in April. Today, I am a partner in the firm, and I’m responsible for the cruising activity. I am based in the Paris office.
Tell me a little bit about the company itself. What you do, what the boats are.
VPLP Design works on production boats, choosing production boats, both sailing and a little bit motor, racing boats, and one-offs. Most of our activities are production boats, but we also do quite a lot of racing boats. When I say racing, it’s both multi-hulls, but also mono-hulls.
We have three offices. We have one in Paris, where most of the cruising activity is concentrated. We have a second office in Nantes, where we also do a little bit of maritime work boat activity. And then finally one on the west coast, in Brittany, where most of the racing boats are designed. VPLP has a workforce of about 37 people.
Naval architects, designers, 3D modelers, and engineers. When I mean Engineers, they are performance engineers, people that do um calculations for predicting speed and stuff like that, and also structural engineers. Those structural engineers are working transversely on all the projects. That is production boats, cruising boats, and of course, racing boats. It is the same for the designers, they work on different projects: cruising, maritime, and racing. Obviously, a little bit less involvement on the racing boats than on the cruising.
So that’s very unique in a company that works with cruising boats. I figure specifically of the Lagoon, how has all that cross-expertise made the Lagoon the boat it is?
For sure, our experience in the racing boats and the new technologies that we use on the racing boats, we try to bring it in the cruising industry or activity. For instance, I remember some years ago, some of the Lagoons started to have the mast further after steps, and this was directly coming from the racing boats.
What are some of the important considerations that come into mind when you’re designing a cruising catamaran?
Well, I believe that the most important [thing] is to attentively consider the client by listening to him or her to understand how the client will will use and enjoy their boat. This analysis will allow us to best integrate the constraints and bring the most suitable answers in terms of architecture, but also design, and of course, naval architecture. On a more technical level, I would say that properly anticipating the weight, and the weight distribution is a key element as well, to consider for designing the best.
We cruised around the world on a catamaran. Weight was something we constantly had to take into account because we had a very low volume. But Lagoons, I think are very successful because you, and you can correct me, because you really know your client.
Exactly! If we speak more specifically about the Lagoons, I think they’ve been successful because they’ve always been able to adapt quite perfectly to the evolution of the market by anticipating the demands of their client, both in charter fleets and private owners.
Knowing their clients and offering more inner and outer space, more and more luxury features, and the build quality as well, at a relatively competitive price. For instance, I believe that the first flybridge that appeared on a production catamaran, was the Lagoon 420. On a purely stylistic point of view, I think VPLP has always managed to keep the proportions of the boats well balanced, while taking into account the constraints of the design brief.
So you’ve talked a little bit about how the catamaran design evolved a bit, but can you tell us where you think it’s going to go in the next 10 years?
Where it’s going to go in the next 10 years? I think that cats will continue and be even more popular in the future, because, obviously, of the space and stability they offer. We will see more larger cats, and also certainly, power catamarans. More electrical propulsion, eco-friendly boats. I think we will probably see some simplification in the sail-handling of the boats.
For instance, I’m thinking of wing sails and stuff like that, that are automated and do not require professional or specific sailing knowledge. As far as the rig is concerned, I think there will be some evolutions, and also for more performance bows, but not only. I think the appendages, and I’m thinking of foils, for instance, we will certainly see more and more of that.
We’ve recently designed a 42 power catamaran called Aquila 42, and she has foils. They’re not there to fly the boats, but they are there to reduce the fuel consumption, and provide better comfort at sea. I think that, as the sailing cats are concerned, performance boats will have a certain type of foils. But not only performance boats, also cruising boats, not all of them, but we will also see some progress on that.
Sounds interesting. You brought up electric propulsion, are you doing much work with electric propulsion right now, and how does it affect the designs?
Not right now, but we have more and more demand. If you think about fully electric, we have a project which I cannot mention here today. In the pipeline [is] a fully electric catamaran.
We have more and more clients on the one side that are thinking and asking for diesel electric, for instance, and more solar panels. Yes, it is changing and it is moving in that direction.
What haven’t we talked about that you’d like to talk about us specifically around the Lagoon? Is there anything else you’d like to say about it?
Personally, I have been involved with the more most recent models, the larger boats. I’m thinking of the 77, and 51, and 55. VPLP Design has been involved in the design of all the Lagoons since the creation of the brand, starting with the Lagoon 55 back in 1987. That’s quite a while ago now.
Since then, I believe that more than 6,000 units have been built of all the models. Today I think they have seven models, ranging from 40 to 77 feet. That’s it!
We certainly saw a lot of them out sailing around the world. They’re beautiful comfortable boats. How can people learn more about VPLP, and learn more about one-off designs, and that kind of thing?
They just better call me! There’s quite a lot on our website at VPLP.fr There’s history, and some boats, and some concepts as well. We attend the Monaco Yacht Show every year at the end of September.
We also attend some other boat shows, but walking around usually. Some of the team is always available. The best is drop an email of course, and we will always be glad to discuss any projects, even the most crazy ones.