The story of Le Grand Blue (LGB) is something that belongs to another time, when people were capable to think and create things never done with a very limited amount of technology and experience. People who were at the same time brave and crazy.
Le Grand Bleu was designed by Stefano Pastrovich in five days in 2000 and she was built in a little over 14 months: one of the fastest custom project in history. The control of the entire construction and management was done not by a shipyard but by one man, Claus Kusch. …Read More
LGB carried two tenders, each 74’, and had a covered garage of around 80 Sqm. She had two heli-pads, a sliding ceiling over the owner’s bed and a monolith of glass on the bottom of the hull for observing the sea-bottom. These are very relevant numbers considering that they were developed at the end of the 1990s, when shipbuilding on this scale had not yet evolved very much.
Le Grand Bleu: the history from scratch
Claus Kusch has been one of the most relevant Yacht manager & builder that I met in my professional life. At that time I was employed by Martin Francis and I was involved in the design of Senses, at the really beginning of my carrier.Claus was the Yacht manager. After some time working together, Claus asked M. Francis if I could go to Germany in order to design a new vessel with characteristics similar to Senses, but longer, 104 meters. Martin agreed and I went to Germany. I did a preliminary general arrangement by hand with pencil and ruler since portable computer were not so common at that time. After five days of work in Germany, the profile and a preliminary General Arrangement was agreed. Then Claus flew to meet with the client and he sold the project I had designed. You can imagine the joy I had, little young architect, when this happened. Two months after my drawing was scaled up and given to all the engineers, interior architects, window builder and it was said to built the vessel in 14th months. I was asked to design the exterior details so I flew every week during one year from France to Germany in order to work at the shipyard, Vulkan.
The shipyard was Vulkan, an immense yellow hangar situated in Vegesack, a small town near Bremen, Germany. Vulkan is a German shipyard founded in 1893. In the course of the Second World War, 74 U-Boats were built here and the shipyard was subject to allied bombardment throughout the conflict. At the end of the war, it was used by the victors as a prison camp. After the war, from the 1950s, various ships, passenger, cargo and naval, were built here. Following bankruptcy in 1996, the yard was forced to close in 1997. The name was derived from Vulcanus, the Roman god of fire and blacksmiths and the Bremen Vulkan workers called themselves Vulkanesen. Today, part of the shipyard belongs to Lurssen.
Kusch Yachts, directed by Claus Kusch, rented the yard and gathered together a team of designers who formed the temporary technical office set up to design LGB. Stefano was charged with drawing the external lines, the general arrangement and the construction details of the external features. The construction of the ship was carried out identically to the drawings Stefano had made during his first five days at Rendsburg. Nothing could be changed because the owner had negotiated agreements on delivery within 14 months and any changes would have caused delays. The hull and superstructure were made of steel to reduce costs and reduce time construction. Her beam was extended to 17.68 m. to accommodate the two mega-tenders. Maximum speed was 17 knots and cruising speed 15 kts making LGB a very versatile yacht and in advance of her time.
LGB was then delivered and today my feeling is very strange about her: hate and love. I love her because she was part of my life, I hate because I would have liked to better design some features and I couldn’t because Claus had sold the project like it was drawn during the first five days. Very few people know the real story of LGB and very few people has known that year passed at Vulkan, all behind Claus to do this extraordinary vessel. Very few people today can say that I have been the designer. The only thing I can say is that during the early stage of my working life, I met one great man, Claus and a great designer Martin Francis that trusted me in what I was doing and gave me the possibility to work hard since the beginning of my professional life. Thanks to these past time and thanks to other experiences I can say that today is not so relevant that all people know that LGB come from my pencil. What is important is to work with a fresh spirit and be proud of people working with me. This few words are dedicated to Claus that today can watch me from the sky, and can see this little man grown and become a Yacht Architect.
The Mercedes look
Whenever I look back at this project the first thing that comes to mind is when, during the few days he gave me to draw the profile and the General Arrangement, Claus would appear now and then in the little room where I was shut up drawing, to see how the work was going, reminding me: “It has to look like a Mercedes!” …Read More
With that General’s tone of his, he struck a certain fear in me but at the same time, I knew that he was trying to show me exactly what the client was expecting and that he had a lot of faith in me.
The thing which still amazes me today, is how this project, ten years on, succeeds in maintaining a certain appreciation and a timeless class …maybe just like a Mercedes, as Claus wanted!