Normally a new yacht design, when released, isn´t stirring up the whole business. Which is in the nature of things: The yards want to preserve their carefully trimmed image and will always try a more conservative approach rather than surprising everyone with a revolutionary completely new set-up. But, from time to time, this happens after all and those breaks mark a kind of new beginning, a starting over. Maybe this is what has happened at Austria´s renown brand Sunbeam, I thought, when I looked at the then freshly released first renderings of their new Sunbeam 32i sailboat.
As I used to have quite a good relationship to the yard, owned and run by the Schöchl-family, I contacted them to get to know more about this. Gerhard Schöchl was so proud when he gave me an exclusive walkthrough of the then brand new Sunbeam 46.1 two years ago in Ginesta/Spain where the boat was moored for taking part in the prestigious “European Yacht of the Year”-awards, so I write some mails to seek a new contact, trying to find out what this completely new, unseen and unconventional design approach of the Sunbeam 32i was all about. Well, not Gerhard, but Andreas Schöchl eventually sent an answer …
Andreas Schöchl on the new Sunbeam Yard
Lars Reisberg | NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “Hi there Andreas. I am surprised that you are answering my email as I originally would have Gerhard supposed to do that. I heard some rumors that Gerhard has left the company – could you please shine some light on this topic?”
Andreas Schöchl | Sunbeam Yachts: “Yes, it is true. Gerhard has left the company and will go a separate way, orienting himself new. My father, Manfred Schöchl, and myself will carry on the story of Sunbeam Yachts. The brand Sunbeam will be managed by the newly founded company Sunbeam Watersports GmbH and we have decided – preliminarily – to go on offering our successful models 22.1, 28.1 and the new 32.i which we have launched recently.”
NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “Speaking of the new 32i: The renderings and the teaser-video have caused quite a stir-up in the scene. I personally find this is a very radical design with some strinkingly distinctive lines. This comes as a complete surprise, especially done by a brand that is not very much known for taking quantum leaps. Why that radical?”
Andreas Schöchl: “Let me put it this way: We have done a very detailed analysis how boat owners are using their sailboats and how this conduct of usage has been changing constantly over the past years. And it did change quite a lot! We have then defined a target group for our new boat and worked out a concept that was to answer to these new needs. In my eyes, a modern sailboat has to deliver much more than just good sailing properties.”
NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “Looking at the new Sunbeam 32i the whole approach kind of reminds me of Bente from 5 or 6 years ago – of course without the rough, “Rock Star”-attitude – maybe more delicate and noble. Which user or owner is the target group this boat is aiming at?”
Andreas Schöchl: “You are right, mentioning the “Bente-feel” – we are starting this all over. There is a whole new atmosphere of departure in our company and we are super-excited! The new boat is meant for people who want to spend their time on the water. This can be keen sailors but also rookies. We want to offer more than just a boat that sails – we want to offer a platform that has surplus benefits. And this concept should be recognizable even for a newbie instantly.”
NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “Reading through the available specs, the hull has been done by J&J design. These guys have a very respectable Palmarés of successful designs. How much J&J and how much Mattsee Austria is in the new Sunbeam 32i?”
Andreas Schöchl: “First let me be clear: The hull design has not been done by J&J but by the very renown design bureau Kiska. These guys have a truly amazing track record of collaborations with KTM cycles, Adidas or Atomic. J&J have taken over the naval architecture of the new boat and are responsible for the construction of the boat. We as the yard have been trying to bring together the exciting approach of Kiska with the grand knowledge of J&J to create something truly amazing and new in a way that in the end we can build this boat in real life and it corresponds with our values and standards. Everybody in this team had his defined role – and it worked nicely.”
NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “The motto of Kiska is “Breaking with Traditions!” Why did you opt for this bureau, or, let me put it this way: Way breaking with traditions in the first place?”
Andreas Schöchl: “My interpretations of this motto is that we have to question the things we have learned and do from time to time. You have to ask yourself if the way you use to do things and to look at your work are really that rock solid and unchangeable. We are a well known brand and our sailing boats are widely recognized for their high building quality and great design – we had a very, very clear idea of how a boat should be like. Kiska challenged all this, turned it upside down in a way. I think this is brilliant: In this, you avoid a standstill and enable progression, evolution.”
NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “Let´s dive a bit more into details of the new Sunbeam 32i. Looking at the cockpit concept I notice the huge sunbathing area. And I see a double wheel steering: Was the “good life at anchor” a driving factor in developing this boat?”
Andreas Schöchl: “Well, double steering wheels even on 10 meter boats are a common thing now and I would say it brings a lot of benefits: That´s a perfect view onto the sails and of course a nice and easy passage to the rear of the boat. The new Sunbeam 32i features a completely re-thought bathing platform. We call it the “one level cockpit”: The platform will not be folding but is electrically extendible. This is a central theme of the boat: Sunbathing, lounging, spending quality time aboard is absolutely in the focus. Of course, the boat is still a Sunbeam and as such her sailing capabilities have not been a trade in – but as I said, we think a modern yacht must be much more nowadays than just a good sailboat.”
NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “The negative bow is one very, very extreme design feature. Together with these aggressive lines, the windows and the streamlined hull it is a very racy impression. How much sailing potential is in the hull?”
Andreas Schöchl: “Like I said: She is a Sunbeam and will be sailing very vividly and quick – without sacrificing comfort. She is not a Lambo but rather an Aston Martin. We offer exciting design paired with superior driving – well, sailing – properties. One could describe her as a stylish Gran Turismo.”
NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “Down below the surprise is even bigger: The boat reminds me so strongly of power boats with a saloon that is solely used as seating arrangement, a small galley and a slip-in berth-space. No bulkheads, no doors … daysailer meets powerboat. How did you come up with this idea?”
Andreas Schöchl: “We think that powerboats in general are way ahead when it comes to interior design. Much more modern. But why is that so and why do we have to stick with the more conservative approach on a sailboat? We though we´d break with these dogmas and looked for elements in powerboats which might work in sailboats as well. The open design is one thing. Also the multi-purpose salon: The table can be rotated to function either as dining table, chart table or extension of the galley as a work top, for example. The backrest of the bench is foldable and makes for a nice double berth in the front …”
NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “Are there more of these rather unusual elements you can point out here?”
Andreas Schöchl: “Yes there are many, indeed! But if I disclose them here nobody would watch our upcoming videos anymore … (laughs). What I can tell you is that we will also have an offer with an ordinary Diesel engine but also alternatively an 8 kW electric propulsion solution with powerful Li-Ion batteries.”
NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “I see. Can you disclose a price range in which this new boat will be hovering?”
Andreas Schöchl: “Not yet, unfortunately. We are still not finished with the calculations but I am sure we can communicate a starting price at the end of this month.”
NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “Let´s talk about the future: How will this new 32i influence the development and design of future upcoming, maybe bigger units of Sunbeam?”
Andreas Schöchl: “I can tell you that the influence will be big and sustainable. This new boat is a guidepost and forerunner of the future orientation of our whole company and the products it is making. The next Sunbeam yacht will definitely be a bigger boat and I can promise she will pursue the approach of the 32i in an even more radical way.
NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “That sounds extraordinarily exciting: A real start over and not just one for the marketing and PR departments! Last not least, Andreas, the obvious Covid-question: How is the company doing, how are you and the people working at the yard and how have restrictions influenced the last year and current state of production?”
Andreas Schöchl: “Well, I´d say that we have a pretty good economical situation: The influx of orders is very good and as such we have taken extremely sensitive care to organize our production to deliver the boats ordered. This is managed with great enthusiasm by our staff and met with professionality by our partners and international suppliers. At home, Lake Mattsee, we are organized to meet all requirements, be it masks, a good distance, special rules for breaks in the yard, disinfection or special courses in hygiene. In this, I am very optimistic about Sunbeam´s future.”
Thank you very much, Andreas Schöchl – I am looking forward to being able to take a look at a real 32i in the near future, hopefully at one of the upcoming boat shows.
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