Interview with Yannick Leroux,
Seventy 7 project manager in the Lagoon design office

Digital model of the SEVENTY 7

He’s self-taught, and he has always been passionate about boats and sailing. His life has always revolved around boats. Firstly, he was a skipper for a few years, and then he fetched up on St Barts, where he stayed for 6 years. Long enough to set up his joinery workshop in 1984, and to build himself a "Saintoise" (a local boat)!
Then he joined Jeanneau in 2000, where he worked with Jean-François Prémorel to launch the Prestige 36. That’s where he met Dieter Gust (Chairman of CNB-Lagoon) and Bruno Belmont (head of sailing yacht development at Bénéteau Group), who recruited him for CNB-Lagoon.

“In my career, I’ve always had connections with Lagoon, even prior to working on the boat projects. I sailed on Lagoon 55 No. 1 … and even had the opportunity to deliver the first Lagoon 42 to arrive in France. I can’t get away from Lagoon!”

How long have you worked at CNB?
Since 2004. First of all, I was the Lagoon 67 project manager. Then I was responsible for the development of the Lagoon 620 and the CNB 76 monohull. Then I moved on to the 7MA (codename for the SEVENTY 7).

How did you feel when you were entrusted with this new superyacht?
Pride, because it’s a sign of the company's trust in me. Excitement, faced with this new challenge, but also the feeling of restarting a marathon that’s very demanding in terms of time and energy. I age 10 years with each new project!

Can you explain your role in the design office?
The role of the project manager is to gather data, compile it and turn it into a tangible, viable project. This data comes from the dream of the product development team, who have analysed future customers’ requirements with the sales department and from the imagination of the architects and the interior designer, to whom we entrust the boat’s specifications. It’s up to us, with my team, to organise this information to transform it into a coherent design brief.

How is the project team organised?
First of all, there’s work between product development and the interior and exterior architects. They formulate the project, conceive it, determine the boat’s broad outline, the design. The advantage is that all these people have been working together for years and know each other well.
Then the project manager receives this data and he’s given a team of around ten people, who rotate according to the project's progress, according to their individual specialism. The team is built around the managers of the various trades (interior fit-out, deck fittings, engineering, plumbing, electricity, etc.).
The methods engineer, responsible for guiding the development teams towards optimisation of construction, also joins at an early stage. From day one, and at each stage, we ask ourselves "how will we build it?”
My role is to orchestrate this little band: designers, methods engineer, managers of the various trades, product development, architects, sales. A lot of mediation is required; it’s an important part of the assignment.

What is meant by 'design work' in terms of a project entrusted to the design office?
Design work comprises various components, which come together as the project progresses.
  1. Incorporation into our CAD system of all the architects’ data to produce a digital model. This will be approved by all decision-makers and will be the starting point of the entire process.
  2. The design office also is an architect. Indeed, we design some things ourselves, such as power train, technical elements (design and installation of tanks and pipework, electricity, deck hatches, deck layout), fit-out areas not handled by the designer, etc.
  3. Co-development: we also entrust suppliers with the design work for a system conceived by the design office. For example, the hull door (the owner’s saloon "balcony" over the sea at the forward end of the boat) is a case in point.

“The architect is the one who warrants that the boat is sound and well-built, seaworthy and sailable.”

Architects / Design office: what is the main difference in their role?
The naval architect must ensure throughout development that the project remains a "boat". He gives birth to the concept, designs the boat, and he’s the one who warrants that the boat is sound and well-built, seaworthy and sailable.
The design office ensures the boat’s functionality, robustness, weight, compliance with technical requirements and standards, etc.

How was the design work for the SEVENTY 7 organised?
When the preliminary design prepared by product development and the architects has come to fruition, management approval is required to initiate the preliminary design phase in the design office: for the 7MA, we had three months for design calculations and the incorporation of all the major systems. We also drew up the capital expenditure budget and the costings for the materials and the hours required for construction.
At the end of this period, we report to Management again. We obtain approval of the project’s viability: that the major systems (in particular the innovative elements) have been integrated, that the bill of materials is correct, that budgets have been consolidated. If Management gives its approval, manufacture of moulds is initiated.
We then launched the design phase proper: to get to the stage of building the No. 1, we put 10 people onto the job for 1½ years. The total design time for all versions of a large project like 7MA is estimated to be in the order of 40,000 hours…

“I imagine that I’m the boat’s skipper and I apply particular focus to the boat’s technical operation. I love that.”

The design work:
You have to understand that everything is linked. There aren’t really any phases. We all move forward together and in constant contact with production. The design office very quickly draws up the bill of materials (a sort of "shopping list") for the boat in order to have all the parts and supplies to build the boat, in the right quantities and at the right time.

Which aspect of the design work do you prefer?
All the technical and deck layout aspect. I imagine that I’m the boat’s skipper and I apply particular focus to the boat’s technical operation. I love that.

What are the most innovative features on the SEVENTY 7?
The systems: the forward hull door (the balcony); the large stern platform that will serve as a sunbathing area or for hoisting out the tender, or even a recreation area.
The monitoring system, which is intended as supplementary to the boat’s core operating systems, which are already highly sophisticated. This system will provide the owner with great ease of operation, incredible capabilities, without causing inconvenience to the crew and in terms of life on board in the event of snags.
The boat can be sailed in the most traditional of ways or operate in full high-tech mode.

What do you like best about this boat?
Its versatility. It’s been designed to do everything, and it’ll be able to do everything: a pleasant daytime passage, a very good, comfortable Atlantic crossing, a handsome sailing machine with lots of options available on the fly.

“It’s a very well thought-out boat; it’ll be superb.”