LEADING THE PACK

Turkey 2020 | SHIPBUILDING | INTERVIEW

The global market for personal boats is in constant flux, but Numarine is staying ahead of the curve with high-tech offerings across its business lines

Ömer Malaz
BIOGRAPHY

Ömer Malaz was born in Istanbul. He completed his high school education in the UK and his university education in economics in the US. In 1991, he began working for his family's company, Malazlar Kibrit, before joining Kartonsan. He then founded Teknik Kasa. In 2001, he moved into the yacht sector and founded Numarine Denzicilik.

What role does technological innovation play in Numarine's line of yachts?
Technological innovation in the yachting sector did not truly exist until we started in 2001. Everyone was building boats in the same way that they were doing in the 1960s—we were in the dark ages of production. In 2001, when I started Numarine, I felt we needed to do things differently, and our differentiator had to be lower prices than our competitors, the main European brands. At this time, vacuum infusion was something extremely high tech that only race sailing yachts were utilizing. The technology is environmentally friendly, as it emits 99% less styrene gas into the environment. I saw that the environment would be a key issue and selling point in the coming years, and the technology produces a light and strong product, so we invested heavily in developing the technology. We were the first shipyard in Europe to produce everything with vacuum infusion; by the time many other companies switched and started doing vacuum infusion, we were leading the pack. Another of our key technologies are lithium ion batteries, which we introduced two years ago.

How does your new yacht, Adonis, implement even more advanced technology?
Adonis is our collaboration with Furrion Design, a Hong Kong-based technology company that created Angle AI. It also does a great deal of work integrating AI into household appliances. Adonis mixes these two aspects of Furrion with yachting. It is wonderful—as one walks in, a smart camera recognizes them and sets the mood to their preferences, changing the music and learning their preferences. Sailors can ask about the weather in a certain location and request that the yacht navigate there. The yacht will take them there, and en route it will ask if they want to visit a restaurant. Then, it can select the best one. The temperature of water in the shower can be adjusted via voice recognition. In the future, this will all be standard. However, when it comes to extremely high-tech solutions such as Adonis, I am slightly cautious, as it is still extremely new and untested. If our boats are to sail all over the world, we need to ensure they are safe and can be serviced.

How do changes in taste drive Numarine's technology and yacht line?
10 years ago, speed was a selling point, though this has changed. Now, people want to be able to navigate quietly so that they are comfortable and can sleep during navigation. This is why our lithium ion batteries are popular as the technology is quieter. It is one of the reasons why our XP line has been successful, as the yachts are quieter and roomier.

What are the biggest operational challenges you face?
We used to face many challenges when we were new into the market and were learning; however, it has been 18 years, and we have produced close to 150 boats, so production-wise we do not face many challenges. On the marketing side, producing in Turkey and selling worldwide still has its challenges. Turkey had a fantastic image up until five or six years ago—when I went to the GCC or Europe before, customs were extremely positive and processed us even without a stamp. However, we have lost that prestige over the last five years due to international politics. It is becoming harder to sell such an expensive product to a global customer from Turkey.

Over the next 12 months, what are your plans and objectives?
We have a new 45-m Explorer, which is our biggest project and one of the most exciting. It will present many challenges for us, though it will also bring many rewards because once it is out there, it will be the only boat of that size with those amenities. I do not know what the global economy or politics will bring in the future; however, we are focused on our growth plans.