Founded in 1927, British naval architecture firm Laurent Giles is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. The story began in the heyday of gentleman’s yachts when founder Jack Laurent Giles graduated from the University of Cambridge and started his own business in Lymington.
Despite becoming an accomplished master of the classical style, Laurent Giles was also regarded as a pioneer of lightweight construction, building the first all-aluminium sailing yacht Gulvain in 1949. Today, his legacy lives on through the highly esteemed yacht design and naval architecture firm that bears his name.
“Designing for Laurent Giles stands for professionalism, experience and a wealth of knowledge,” said managing director David Lewis. “We’re pushing the boundaries technically, in terms of design, but also in terms of research.”
Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is highly popular in the modern yacht design industry, but Laurent Giles still emphasises the importance of physical tank testing. “You can only go so far with CFD — tank testing is the real basis of hull design,” Lewis adds.
Laurent Giles has worked on many notable superyachts over the years, from Stella Maris to Samar, but the company isn’t resting on its laurels. Indeed, it recently revealed a pair of futuristic 110 metre concepts — the four-masted motorsailer Project Atlas and the super-sleek motor yacht HEMY.
Both concepts have been designed with technical requirements and practical considerations in mind. Project Atlas features removable bulwarks that can be used to conceal the mandatory lifeboats stored on the upper deck, while HEMY takes a different approach, by keeping the internal volume just below 3,000GT, thus removing the need for lifeboats altogether.
Despite such lofty ambitions, the studio is still firmly rooted in history, explains technical director Stephen Wallis: “Laurent Giles has grown from its heritage; we’ve always been a technically-based design company and now we’re definitely building towards the future.”