It was one of my big wishes when spending a couple of days here in Denmark coming true to have a visit to Luffe Yachts. Well, apart from actually being able to sailing one which was unfortunately not possible (but will hopefully made good for in the future to come). It is a rainy Monday in April and weather is far from being perfect for a sailing cruise. Apart from the fact that I would love to sail one I was very happy to being invited to have a look at the yard where one of the – to my mind – most beautiful yachts come to life: Kolding/Denmark.
Kolding is a small town in the Baltic coast of Jutland, some 50.000 inhabitants do earn their income in the metalworking and textile industries, do profit from Kolding as being a traffic junction for West-Denmark but apart from that the small town feels like all of Denmark feels: Pleasantly under-overcrowded, laid-back and kind of disconnected from the hustle of a bristling city like Hamburg where I left hours earlier for Kolding.
Luffe Yachts is situated well outside the city and kilometers away from the shores of the Baltic in the midst of a huge industrial park. A hall in black with a huge logo. That´s all one can see when nearing the yard. Outside I can find the female molds of the yacht models Luffe is offering: Currently six types from the all-new Luffe 36 of 36 feet to the biggest model, the Luffe 48 can be ordered. Knocking at the door, a friendly boatbuilder sawing some mahogany stops working to open the door. He nods. Lets me in. Goes back to his saw.
Luffe 45 – an impressive Boat
I enter the big hall from the woodworks-shop and behold: Right over my head a grey painted Luffe 45 rests majestically on her jack. It´s a stunning look. Robert, who originally invited me to see the yard welcomes me, shows me around, points toward the boats and says: “It´s all Luffes. But except this one over there – we are just maintaining the ship – don´t show her …”, as if I weren´t be able to distinguish the beautiful lines of an original Luffe yacht. He leaves me to rejoin his work in the laminating-shop again. I remain alone. Free to see everything I want. I roam about under the massive hull of the 45 feet Luffe. I could spend hours here …
Oluf Jörgensen founded the yard back in 1973. That´s six years before I was born. He started to build coastal sailing craft with success and became addicted to designing yachts. Colleagues of mine describe Oluf as being a bit shy and humble when ask to talk about is boats and later I will get a glimpse of what they meant as well. Back to the boat I notice her sharp bow – a trademark of Scandinavian built sailing vessels.
Oluf Jörgensen wants to create ships to perform. That´s his aim. That´s a s simple – and as complicated – as it s. It´s his aim for a speedy ship that drives him to design slim but fast yachts. A clear countermotion to the wide and beamy boats built for the charter market to offer luxurious accommodation over sailing qualities. A Luffe is a fast cruiser. But a cruiser it remains: My own sailing instructor used to sail a Luffe and he is full of praise on her rigity, high building quality and her stylish, classy interior design.
The freeboard of a Luffe is low, her center of gravity deep and her beam limited: A Luffe is hard to beat in any wind. When taking a look at her helm, the Luffe 45 offered a clean cockpit layout, two steering wheels with plenty of room to maneuver around and no risk of getting tangled up in the mainsheet traveler. Though this particular boat would be a size too big for myself, I really admired her lines.
The Beauty of Ships
It´s this admiration of ships and the love to everything connected to sailing which makes a Luffe so beautiful in my eyes. I´m a bit sad because my most beloved of their current line, the Luffe 43 MK II wasn´t around when I visited the yard, I could clearly imagine the passion put into every single ship manufactured here. Clearly, this yard has an output of merely 15 yachts a year, nevertheless – or just because of that? – I could determine the high standards by every employer to be put into every single boat. They simply love building boats here.
Haven´t I said it? It´s a small yard. No match for a Hanse or Jeanneau. But that´s the niche where a Luffe can exist in. A boat will be built just by order. No production in advance here. By ordering the boat, the owner in being can determine almost everything by himself when it comes to interior design. It´s the mindset of Luffe that a sailing vessel – especially when on a longer cruiser – should be fast first, but secondly it should be as comfortable as possible. So, by determining the lines and thus the sailing abilities of the ship, Oluf says that the owner should be free to choose what the interior should look like.
There are virtually unlimited combinations of all the high grade lumbers you can imagine, leaving Teak and Mahogany only second-choice. That in mind I remember having browsed the advertisements of used Luffe yachts and wondering why not a single yacht resembles the look of the next one: That´s because there really isn´t such thing as a standard-version here. A Luffe owner is some kind of an individualist.
Which brings us to Oluf Jörgensen again. He suddenly appears to stand behind me while I was taking pictures, shook my hands and welcomed me. Judging from his whole appearance he wasn´t really interested in explaining everything to me and showing off: That´s what my colleagues where telling about him. A humble, shy person, very warm and welcoming but a kind of self-contained. His work does speak for itself. I think, that´s what he wanted to tell me.
We parted and I went around in the wood-shop, looking at construction manuals, tons of patterns and calibers for the interiors of the different models, wood-samples and general plans of Luffe yachts. The smell of the wood reminded me of my own boat when I sailed her: Lumber and varnish, smell of Diesel and a slight odor or epoxy. This is when the new Luffe 3.6 on the yard came into sight.
The all-new Luffe 3.6
I do own a 33 feet cruiser. Just 3 feet more is merely a meter in overall length so I am familiar with this size. I thought. 33 feet of the mid Seventies is nothing compared to a modern ship – even when looking at a comparably slim yacht like the Luffe. This yacht offers plenty of space though.
And she´s a true beauty by herself too. The classy look is achieved my her inclined bow – some kind of a trade mark by Luffe yachts in a world where most of the yachts have straight bows to achieve longer waterlines and thus create more space for the owner´s cabins in the front of the vessel ship. A 3.6 has a bow overhang of 1.1 meters. Also her elaborate woodworks like the real Teak decking: Handcrafted lumber of the highest quality is also a thing that contributes to the classy “shiplike” style of a Luffe. And this is with the smallest of the yachts too.
I have the chance to take a look into an unfinished hull still on the assembly line without the upper part being assembled: I can clearly see the compartments of the ship: A large cabin in the aft-section slightly wider than the ship´s half, vis-à-vis a big locker on the starboard side. There´s also a fully equipped head, a large enough galley and a saloon in which crew and passengers can and will enjoy themselves both underway and tied up to the pier sides.
Same here: I really admired the passion that seems to go into the wooden parts of the boat´s interior. I remember the instructor-skippers at my sailing school waxing lyrical about their “old” Luffe which – in their words – would not only sail like hell but also exuding the passion of seafaring adorably nice. And here it all begins …
A Luffe 3.6 will be outfitted with a self-tacking jib to make singlehanded sailing a no brainer. All halyards and sheets are easily reachable to make riding this boat pure fun. I particularly liked the view on her unfinished stern section where I could spot the shaft for housing the rudder: Strongly, very strongly built and beside the fact that the aft section of the boat is entirely sealed off by a watertight bulkhead to the front there was a smaller box which will be made watertight as well: That´s built-in safety I guess.
The 3.6 will – as well as all the other models – be equipped with all the three standard keels by wish of the owners which will be bolted to a strong zinc-coated steel frame for stiffness and rigidity (as well as for safety again). With a displacement of 5.3 tons this boat has a ballast of due 1.96 tons: Plenty of righting moment and stiffness to hold her straight in upwind and gusty conditions. That´s all coming with a price tag attached: Some 170.000 Euros in her standard specification without VAT is hefty entrée to the world of Luffe. But I´m sure the quality is worth it.
Sharp Bow, Slim Body … that´s a Luffe
Switching from the 3.6 to her bigger sisters I can spot a 40.04 as well on her stands in the big hall. Right next to her even bigger sibling, the Luffe 45 she resembles what I admire at Scandinavian yacht design most: Slim lines, a sharply drawn bow and a slender stern to make her hull seaworthy even to ride out the harshest waves as well as to make her fast.
“Length runs” is a long known rule in shipbuilding and here at Luffe they do have their very own interpretation of this. Where most brands based in Germany for example are going a way to appeal to a more comfort-oriented customer (mostly the average charter-client) with high freeboards, a load of volume for the inside to have huge cabins and a number of heads, it´s a bit different here at Luffe. And you can see it by just looking at the boats themselves.
They do even look fast: The bow, the stern, a well-shaped hull, long and thin rudders and the cockpits of course. There are wider cockpits. There are cockpits this big and spacious where one might host a barbeque or rave-party. Not so with Luffe: The layout here is meant for having a safe and secure place for the crew to drive the boat, steer her and have everything at when where expected and needed. It´s a cockpit for a sailingboat. Not a patio for big party at pier side Saint Tropez …
Everything is crafted beautifully. Handbuilt quality: Also here, the hull will be built in E-Glass and reinforced polyester with a foam core. Charging additional budgets, everything is also available as an Osmosis-safe Epoxy-version vacuum infused with a 15 millimeter balsa core for extra stiffness and a weight-saving of up to 10 per cent. Vacuum infusion is an option for all the models Luffe offers.
Going from the big assembly hall to the molding facility I witness the treatment of a deck structure: Holes will be drilled, portholes are to be cut out and the decking is ready to be applied. I can see no more than 5 people working at the facility, no rushing, no hectic – just friendly faces, everyone seeing me will nod and give me a smile. It seems as they do not just have fun in doing what they do but to take pride in their work.
Dear Santa …
I leave Luffe with mixed feelings I must admit. On the one hand there you have them – adorable handcrafted sailing yachts, capable and well known for their high performance in terms of sailing capabilities, speed and rigidity as well as for their classy design and timeless appearance. After all, a Luffe is extremely stable in her value. Used Luffes will be sold at high prices even now that the overall price level for used yachts is very low.
On the other hand I feel some kind of deep sympathy or let´s call it sorrow for this little yard in Denmark: It is so small, so few yachts leave this facility which means so few people will enjoy these wonderful ships. Partially due to the fact that the pricing for these boats is far beyond everything I myself and probably most of you will ever be able to pay for, partially because of the common trends towards cheaper, faster built production boats for an average sailor who is not a thorough salt anymore, but a part-time sailor during the summer, a snowboarder in winter together with a number of other spare time activities he might enjoy.
I am thankful for having got the chance to take a look at this small marvel, the beauty of the boats in all states of their making and to meet the people behind that magical sounding name Luffe. If you spend a holiday time on Jutland – come forward to take an hour´s drive to the small town of Kolding to have a look at Luffe as well. I am sure, you will be as welcome as I was here.