Albert

No, it’s not the name of a John Le Carre type thriller. It’s Albert Nazarov (above), a Russian-born boat designer, who is revolutionizing the way that many Pattaya boatbuilders build and design boats. Sevastopol, his home, is located in southern Ukraine, and has been a Russian naval base for over 200 years (Yes, it’s in the Ukraine, but Russia has leased the port until 2017). It’s famous for shipbuilding and ship repair work, starting from wooden boats to the big steel commercial vessels and navy boats of today.

Albert graduated in 1996 with a degree in naval architecture from the Faculty of Marine Technology and Shipping at the Sevastopol National Technical University. In 1999, he became a finalist in an international yacht design competition in UK, and just after that he started his own yacht design company.

In May 2004, he received his Ph.D. at the Odessa Marine Academy in sailing craft, controllability and performance. His research included testing models of hull-keel combinations in a towing tank. This resulted in a new type of simulation software for sailboat acceleration and maneuverability. (This work later became of keel interest to the 2006 America’s Cup research teams).


boat

In July 2004, he arrived in Thailand to work for Hull, Co., Ltd, who was contracted to do a complete a refit of an 87-foot trimaran, called the Long Ranger. This was for a Russian customer, and the work included changing the engines, the electrical systems and the ship’s furnishings. When the project was finished Albert decided to open up his own company, called Albatross — his nickname in his yacht club back home.

During his time in Thailand, Albert has taught “small craft design” at the Kasetsart University satellite campus in Sri Racha — the only school that teaches naval architecture in Thailand. And some of his students have ended up working for him. Today, his staff of eight is comprised of three naval architects (including Albert), one mechanical engineer, one electrical engineer, an interior designer, plus an accountant and an office manager. Albert makes sure that each of his staff has practical sailing knowledge and he tries to get out on the water as much as he can as well.


boat


Half of Albatross’ projects are for international clients, the other half for Thailand-based customers. Boats using Albert’s designs are now being built in China, Malaysia, the Ukraine, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, Israel, and Australia. People learn about his designs by reading international yachting magazines.

Albert studied art for five years, so he knows how to draw. This is important in the “concept stage” because when he first meets with the customer he needs to get a feeling of what they want. He does a sketch by hand, and then puts the concept in 3-D, before sending it to his interior designer, who makes the interior plans, and then sends the plans to the naval architect who finalizes details such as deck equipment and exterior drawings.  

The next stage is the “structural design” where Albatross calculates the boat’s structure using ISO small craft regulations. Albatross also does full-size laser cutting files and lamination schedules.

Then there’s the “systems design” (fresh water, bilge pump, air-conditioning, fuel, ventilation) including a full specification, with a list of parts for every system and where to buy them, so there is no misunderstanding as the customer has a full list of parts when ordering from the builder. Albatross prepares a similar list for the electrical systems.      

Albert works with ten builders in Thailand, and he basically designs four types of craft — the classic, the work boat, the military-style boat and the modern, contemporary style boat.

The biggest challenge in Thailand is to make people more aware of safety standards in boatbuilding and boat operation. Knowledge of regulations is another of Albatross’ strong suits. It uses the ISO “Small Craft” group of standards to develop its designs, and uses the ABYC standard of classifications. For its designs, Albatross also produces the required paperwork for CE certification — a “must have” for boats exported to Europe.


boat


Albatross designs boats in different materials. “More than 90% of the world’s boats are built out of fiberglass,” he says.  “There are three main types of fibreglass boats:  production boats, usually made from the cheapest material, locally available like chopped strand mat and polyester resin that altogether costs about US$14 per one kilo of structure. The next method is ‘one-off fiberglass’ customized boats, using core material and prefab panels, a fast and efficient method. The Chinese-made honeycomb materials for these boats are inexpensive, efficient and light for budget production though traditional cores such as Airex, Divincell and balsa are demanded by upmarket customers. The last method is hi-tech fibre construction using carbon or Kevlar fibres. Not many builders use this material in Thailand, but we use it when we design a racing sailboat.”                    

Albert says that local woods are very heavy, about 800 kilo per cubic metre, twice as heavy as the wood available in Europe, so when Albatross designs a wooden boat in Thailand, it must consider the weight of this wood and the displacement it will cause. The company extensively studies local woods and other materials, knowing their density and properties.

The three types of wooden boats Albatross builds include strip planking, where the boat is built on frames, and covered with thin pieces of solid wood. The next method uses plywood, (cheap but very heavy), and the hull shape is sharp-chine. The third method uses diagonal plywood, where the hull is covered by a few layers of strips of plywood in a diagonal direction (this is heavy, but you can get any shape you want).

“We also design aluminum boats,” Albert says, “but it is not easy to get the welding done here, and not many builders build them, but BP Marine does a good job. We design a kit that includes cutting files, and then you must import the aluminum from China, or Australia. With aluminum, you are limited to the shapes you can have. You also need a lot of stiffeners in aluminum boats, that reduces the space in small boats compared with fiberglass ones. But, aluminum is definitely a good choice for ferry or workboat applications, or one-off boats starting from 35-40 feet.”                       

Albert is adamant that if he is going to design a boat, he must deal with the end-user of the boat directly. He won’t deal with middlemen; he must meet with the customer directly to get a proper concept of the vessel. It’s also important to talk construction price with them beforehand, sometimes people want a lot of boat for little money. Knowing most of the builders in the area, he can advise who can build the best customized or production boat, or the best high-tech or budget boat, and he can you a time frame for production as well.


boat


Albatross designs boats & supervise the technical side of boatbuilding projects. It issues a design fee for set of drawings, and in theory is paid royalties when copies of the boat are built at a later date, but this is hard to enforce in Asia. When to comes to the actual building of the boat most builders demand a ten percent deposit to book the construction of the boat. Then there are progress payments, based on stages of completion of the boat. If a builder can’t deliver certain equipment, it’s deducted from the balance of payments. Albert says a builder can deliver a 40-foot boat in 8-9 months, but the 90-footer he’s designed for SEAT Boat can take up to two years to finish.

Albert has come a long way since his days studying naval architecture in Sevastopol. He’s lectured at prominent boat-designing seminars and his work has been published in some of the finest maritime and scientific journals. People in the Pattaya boatbuilding community have nothing but praise for him, and so they should – he’s done a lot to improve the reputation of the Pattaya boatbuilding community (http://www.amdesign.co.th).

Find me on...

facebooktwitterinstagram