Unik Yachts is an engineering and shipbuilding company from Mykolaiv, which does ordinary things extraordinarily well, from an expedition motor yacht to a patrol boat with an unmanned module, or a small boat with no more than 60 pieces of parts.
In an interview with Shipping magazine, Yuriy Nikolenko, the main designer and ideological inspirer of Unik Yachts, spoke about the successes, challenges, and what projects the team of the best specialists in design and construction of yachts in Ukraine is working on.
– Yuriy, what does the title of the company refer to, and what is the general concept of the company?
– If you take the first three letters of the name and the first three letters of my last name and first name — they coincide.
We work with the latest licensed software — MAXSURF. Only two shipbuilding enterprises in Ukraine use their services. It should be noted that work with this software is trained on the basis of the Mykolaiv shipbuilding institute which we closely cooperate with.
In addition, we are promoting a software product in Ukraine called RINOCEROS. It is quite modern and effective in the direction of 3D modeling, and not only in the construction of ships, but also in jewelry.
– The lion’s share of orders is dedicated to the design of small vessels or yachts?
– We are mainly engaged in designing yachts. Unfortunately, we have quite a few orders from Ukraine. I would like the country to have more ships and not ships. For example, in Finland and Sweden there are several thousand more yachts than in Ukraine.
– There is a stereotype that a yacht is a luxury item, so not everyone can afford it. What is your opinion?
– Partly yes, but few people know that our new project – small electric boats – is more affordable than Zaporozhets (ZAZ).
– What is the place of Ukraine in the global market for the construction of small vessels and what are the prospects for development, according to the current economic situation?
– Today, the situation with the construction of small vessels in Ukraine is not very good. This is connected with the fact that shipbuilding is a very costly process, requiring «long» money and expensive loans. In the situation that now exists on the market, this is, in general, problematic.
Unik Yachts has a fairly good base, inherited by the company, and specialists – some of the best in Ukraine – are represented here. Nevertheless, it is quite difficult for us to work effectively, and even more to compete. As for the company’s entry into the market with engineering solutions, here things are somewhat better, because this area does not require large investments. Actually, therefore, in terms of engineering and design, we can compete adequately. For example, the projects developed by us are realized today in Italy, Brazil, the USA, Uruguay, Germany, Holland, France etc.
– Does Ukraine have at least some kind of state support for engineering projects?
– There is no state support. Again, the economic situation in our country is rather unstable, which limits the possibility of receiving foreign investment in the industry as a whole. Even if there are orders, it is very problematic to implement them in Ukraine.
– Shipbuilding is a fairly energy-intensive process. How does Unik Yachts do it?
– There are two options: the first is when the company works as a client. In this case, we simply design the vessel based on the needs of the customer. This is the easiest option, and today is the most effective, although sometimes there are very unusual orders. The second option is when we make a project, focusing on the needs of the market. In this case, we analyze the market, select a specific niche and try to enter it.
Now we have launched a series of inexpensive boats, at a price comparable to the cost of the Zaporozhets (ZAZ), which is aimed at young people and will stimulate its sporting interest in the direction of the development of sailing sports.
Ukraine has enough water resources for this, but there is no developed infrastructure. All that is — some yacht clubs from old times, so we want to offer for our and for the foreign market an inexpensive, budget, and, most importantly, — a modern solution, with the aim of familiarizing young people with this topic.
– Does the effort spent on the project pay off?
– We did not consider the cost of costs in our projects, as this is more an image solution. We do what we like and do it very well. For example, in 2018, one of our projects hit one of America’s most reputable yacht magazines with a 50-year-old history – Sailing Magazine, in the «Boat of the Month» section. Each month, the magazine presents three yachts from around the world, and our Lion 770 was there, despite the fact that even for money it’s impossible to get there. I note that before the Ukrainian shipbuilding companies were not there, we are the discoverers.
Now there is an interest in the project that I mentioned earlier – the boat Lion 550. This is a very small boat, which is currently in the final design stage. The highlight of this boat is that it can be assembled in your garage.
– The world is ruled by technology, and all processes are becoming automated. However: how often do you have to take a simple pencil?
– Despite the presence of computer technology and various design programs today, any project begins with a pencil and paper. Next, the sketch is transferred to a computer and projected into a 3D model.
At the moment, we, together with the shipbuilding company «Artel» LLC, are engaged in the design of electric boats. They are fully battery operated.
– Yuriy, share our readers with interesting points related to Unik Yachts?
– There is one interesting story. In 2014, we dealt with military topics and received several orders, which at that time were in demand.
One of such projects is the high-speed trimaran «Katran U53», designed for patrols, which allows, with a small fuel consumption, to obtain a sufficiently large seaworthy permeability. Then we developed the Shadow unmanned module. The patrol trimaran and the Shadow can work either alone or in pairs (the boat can carry a module on board).
When we announced the project, oddly enough, most of the calls came not from Ukraine, but from Russia. Exactly one year after the publication of the press release, all the leading information agencies of the Russian Federation received information about the development by the Russian designers of the Shadow speed patrol. In the title photo was exactly our trimaran, with one difference – the yellow-blue stripe on board. Those, our own development was presented «under the sauce» of the modern Russian development.
– Have you filed a claim for copyright infringement?
– We did not file any claim in court, but issued a press release that we have no relation to this whole situation, and made a public statement that it was actually a theft of our materials. However, even after this, the President of the Russian Federation at one of the official meetings once again emphasized the importance of «their new development».
– How do you protect your intellectual property rights?
– All our developments are produced under the trademark registered in an official manner, however, in shipbuilding it is quite difficult to protect the design, since the trends that exist in the industry are used by other companies. You can patent some new housing, but not the design.
– Yuriy, yachts for women: myth or reality?
– What is the difference between a woman and a man? There is virtually nothing! There are female crews all over the world who compete in sailing equally with men. Therefore, there is no gender discrimination. I personally have a positive attitude to a women in yachting.