It was whilst holidaying on the white sandy beaches of Indonesia’s Greater Sunda Islands that Dominique Gerardin was first struck by the idea to build a superyacht using traditional techniques unique to the archipelago. In 2014, he pitched the idea to a friend (and now fellow co-owner) who he had met aboard Axioma while working aboard. Outlining the market gap for a sailing yacht with an all-Indonesian crew for charter, and certain it would be a favourite with an international clientele, he had little to do by way of convincing — and so, the plans for Lamima, the only Indonesian flagged yacht built to Rina standard, were born. For Gerardin, the 65.2-metre sailing yacht is the culmination of a lifelong dream. Enamoured by 1970s French TV series Joe Gaillard as a child, he always had a penchant for adventure. After a stint as a merchant marine and in the French Polar Expeditions, he worked as a superyacht captain for more than 20 years and today spends up to three months aboard Lamima each year. Photo: Jarret LaabsThe build of Lamima’s hull was entrusted to the skilful local builders of Ara, Sulawesi. Convinced she is “the first superyacht ever built on a beach,” Gerardin recalls the unusual build project with alacrity. “In Ara, shipbuilding is a lifestyle,” he explains. “At eight years old, the boys go with their fathers to the build site, carrying small tools to see how things are done. At 12, they start helping and by 18 years of age, they are experts — they use a chainsaw like you use a knife, and you don’t see anyone with a cut finger!” he laughs. When it comes to the build itself, “the hull must go into the water within nine months because it’s the baby of the master builder, he’s creating something with his soul.” Lamima’s hull was pulled into the water on chain blocks by 50 men over the course of two months, and then towed to Bangkok for completion. Through this traditional approach, the yacht combines the beauty of an Indonesian two-masted trading ship, with the technological robustness of modern-day sailing yachts, affirmed by her Marcello Penna design. When asked what he loves most about Lamima, the answer is an easy one. “When you are on a wooden boat compared with one made of steel, aluminium or fibreglass, you touch the wood with your skin. You touch something that has a soul. For me, that wood is a living material.”Photo: Jarret LaabsPhoto: Jarret Laabs“Soul” is a recurring theme for Gerardin, and speaking with him it quickly becomes apparent that the people with whom Lamima intertwines forge both her distinct magnetism and convivial charm. “The crew is what makes Lamima so special,” Gerardin says with gravity. “They work so hard and we’ve been through a great deal of difficulties. We’ve had everything from run-ins with corrupt police to overcoming extreme storms, sadly we also lost our deckhand this year to Covid-19 — but we have got through it all together.” All originating from Indonesia, the crew of nineteen bring the boat to life, as Gerardin says, “the guests come back for the crew, even more so than for the yacht!” From morning yoga on the deck to wakeboarding, paddle boarding and Jet skiing, the crew gets involved in all aspects of onboard life, and this is part of what makes her feel so much like a home. “Indonesians are fantastically hospitable and there is such a happiness to the way in which they approach life, you really feel that.”Photo: Jarret LaabsWhen it comes to ownership advice, it’s a tough one for Gerardin to call. “Not coming from the same background as most owners, it’s a little difficult to say. But for me, what is most important is that your yacht feels like a home. To be at home, you have to take care of your crew because a superyacht is not like a villa, it will go down quickly. It takes a lot of planning and hard work from everyone and being involved with your crew means you avoid doing refit after refit. So, trust them and take care of them.”Photo: Jarret LaabsThis article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue of The SuperYacht Times newspaper. To receive all future issues straight to your door, subscribe to the newspaper here.