Making waves

German Yacht Couture

A lifelong love of the sea and decades of expertise as a designer has equipped Frank Neubelt to run his globally-renowned studio and new superyacht agency German Yacht Couture

Whenever there’s a sunny day in Hamburg, Germany’s largest port city, locals flock to the River Elbe. They bring paddleboards, dinghies and yachts – anything that allows them to experience the sheer joy of being on the water. It’s something that yacht designer Frank Neubelt can witness first-hand from his studio overlooking the river in the picturesque Hamburg suburb of Blankenese and is the same instinct that has motivated his own successful career.

“I grew up in a sailing family,” says Frank, the principal designer of his own studio and founder of project agency German Yacht Couture. “For me, on board a boat is an inspiring experience, and I have spent a lifetime enjoying the wind and nature. I love it. You can wake up on the Côte d’Azur or anchor in amazing bays. When sailing, you can explore great habits or find somewhere to hide, always changing the scenery around you. It excites me to see ambitious individuals having an outstanding experience by creating their own yacht.”

It was inevitable that Frank would work with international superyachts. He practically grew up aboard a 43ft yacht that was ordered by his family in the 1960s from the now famous Royal Huisman Yard. It was used for world cruising and regattas, and Frank still sails it.

Frank trained as a naval architect and took some internships before starting his first studio, Newcruise, which he successfully ran for over 20 years before it closed in 2014. After he started designing bespoke sailing yachts of 40 to 90ft, including the award-winning Opium, clients approached him about designing customised motor yachts as well. “That was a fantastic and exciting field to step into,” Frank recalls. “You could create luxury nautical leisure with its own style and architecture. Working for owners was demanding yet there was a spirit of innovation. Several awards then underlined Frank’s international renown in the superyacht design world.

As clients competed to outdo each other, Frank relished the challenges offered by superyachts, which consistently broke new ground in technology, engineering, luxury and design. His acclaimed creations include more than 40 yachts and 150 concepts. These range from Siren, Sapphire and Gaya up to the renowned 115m Luna, one of the world’s largest explorer superyachts, with interiors also created according to Frank’s penned concepts, working together with selected affiliates.

In 2012, Frank took time out then relaunched his studio, under his own name, as well as his project and design agency, German Yacht Couture, offering a so-called “Yacht-Design-Plus” service comprising myriad experts in bespoke technical design and naval architecture. “Create, innovate, make – that defines my design philosophy,” says Frank. “It is not just a consultancy – it is every aspect of design technology. A client’s yacht can become a reality after just three to four years. That makes yacht design so special as no vehicle in the world will be realised in such a short period.” The yards and their highly skilled craftsmen are the “final key”, launching high-tech yachts of quality and excellence.

“The big pleasure for me,” says Frank, “is to translate the client’s input, penning it on paper and creating the best bespoke and sustainable solutions for all aspects of the design.” It is about finding a balance, with form following function. But by creating characterful lines, the yacht will become the signature of the proud owner on the ocean’s horizon. An appealing, timeless style is Frank’s passion and goal.