171: German Frers

The legendary yacht designer German Frers…He earned his chops working for S&S under Olin Stephens himself, but it was only through a chance meeting that he got to sketch his first namesake yacht. Frers’ one-off designs quickly began attracting the best production builders like Swan & Hallberg-Rassy, who hired him to design their bluewater cruising boats, and some of the most iconic super yachts ever built came off of his drawing board. I spoke to German on Skype from his office in Argentina about all this & much more.

Show Notes

Topics discussed in the podcast:

  • Oppna Varv at the Hallberg-Rassy yard on Orust, Sweden
  • Andy's previous podcast with Magnus Rassy
  • Hallberg-Rassy 44 and its features from the designer perspective
  • Twin rudder vs a more traditional skeg rudder
  • Dreadnought style bow – what’s the benefits and drawbacks?
  • Tumblehome and its advantages
  • The sailing yacht Rebecca, one of the boats designed by Frers that has tumblehome hull.
  • They started to build Rebecca before Frers had designed the bow. Frers wish he had designed her with plumb bow in hindsight. 
  • Yacht Stealth is one of the favorites to design http://germanfrers.net/portfolio/1044-stealth/
  • Yacht Recluta III was another personal favorite  by Frers that he designed
  • How German Frers got involved in yacht design
  • “The only option I had in Argentina was to study Naval Engineering, that had nothing to do with Yacht Design.”
  • Frers got a letter out of the blue from Rod Stephens asking him to join the team in New York.
  • The culture difference to move from Argentina to New York. “It was a dream to work for S&S (Sparkman & Stephens)!”
  • “I didn't speak much English when I moved to New York”. The first thing I did was to buy a second hand TV spending hours watching show and slowly started to understand and speaking the language. 
  • The S&S office was like the United Nations, it was people from Italy, Germany, people from all different nations.“
  • It was around 40 people at the S&S office in New York at the time. 
  • The International Offshore Rule (IOR) rule from a designer perspective. “They were not very nice to be honest”
  • German Frers spent 3 years working at the S&S office, until he got married. Then it was time to do something serious and produce something and make some money.
  • “I have a basic staff in my office of 8-10 people doing different things”
  • New materials in boat building now gives more freedom, you can build lighter, stronger and stiffer boats that was not possible before. In both racing and cruising.
  • Advice for young people who wants to follow a career path in Yacht Design. A formal education is necessary and is now quite common in Argentina. It is now possible to study Naval Architecture and Yacht Design and not just Naval Engineering. You have to have multifunction, sail to have experience and relate to the sailing world and the ability to sell your own products and explain your ideas. It is hard work!
  • Do you get to sail on all of your boats you design? “Not all of them but a lot of them”. The only transatlantic I did was on a S&S design that I was working on right after I got married. the trip started in New York and sailed via Bermuda.
  • New projects coming out shortly: Hallberg-Rassy 44 and continuing with Hallberg-Rassy on all their models.
  • Another upcoming project is the Swan 78


Learn more about Geman Frers' previous and upcoming projects on his website germanfrers.net