Superyacht marine engineering

GRP Composite Lamination for Luxury Superyachts

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Marine engineering and lamination services

Expert insights from Hythe Marine’s New Laminator Implementation Project Manager (LIPM)

Hythe Marine Services (HMS) is expanding its capabilities within the luxury superyacht industry. To help with this move, Phill Large has joined the team to head-up the lamination department. Phill is a skilled laminator and carpenter with over twenty years of experience in the luxury superyacht industry working for Sunseeker International. 

The lamination department will mainly be doing GRP (glass reinforced plastic) boat building and moulding of luxury yachts, working closely with the joinery department who will handle the decks and woodwork finishes.


Why is GRP Composite lamination so popular in the luxury superyacht industry?

GRP laminating is a popular method within the superyacht boatbuilding industry because of its high strength properties once cured. Fibreglass is a durable, non-corrosive material, so it’s a first choice for the boatbuilding industry. Phill told us, “Fibreglass lamination is popular in boatbuilding for its ease of use, versatility and ability to be laid up in multiple layers.”

GRP is a lightweight material that can be used in many different forms for operations in superyacht building and repair work. Fibreglass mouldings can be sandwiched with all sorts of other materials including Balsa, softwood, hardwood and metals.

Phill explained, “Fibreglass mat in its dry form can be moulded into any shape, and into really tight corners, making it the number one choice for most superyacht boat builders.”

There are many different types of fibreglass lamination. Phill, in particular, is skilled in hand lay-up lamination and vacuum infusion lamination. In vacuum infusion lamination, the infusion is laid down in multiple layers of dry-stacked material and covered with breather membranes and a bag. This is then sucked down by a vacuum pump and resin is fed into the material under vacuum.

The advantages of vacuum infusion over hand lay-up are that the infused parts are so much lighter. Phill told us “Vacuum infusion lamination is advantageous when you’re building a product that has weight restrictions, such as with boatbuilding and superyachts.”


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Hythe Group’s expansion into the luxury superyacht industry

superyacht lamination services

The lamination and joinery department will be working closely together on all luxury boat building projects. To facilitate Hythe Marine Services moving into the luxury superyacht boat building industry, the fibreglass lamination team will be moving into the new HMS workshop. Fibreglass lamination requires very specific working conditions, so the woodworking and metalworking workshops are being refitted to optimise the space for safety and quality.

Metalwork and woodwork have their own hazards, but a lamination moulding shed includes the risks from dealing with highly combustible and hazardous materials that deserve the utmost respect from the laminators. A moulding shed should be dust free and clean to keep your mould tools and mat suitable for laminating. The workshop must be kept at optimum moulding shed temperature and the fumes (styrene) extracted out of the moulding shed through proper ventilation.

HMS are ensuring every step to entering the luxury boat building industry is completed correctly and with the right people in the team. Phill Large said, “The luxury superyacht market is hard to break into. We will build up our reputation as a reputable composite department, by focusing on building trust with customers for boat repair work, builds and refits.”


Phill Large’s career and experience as a GRP Composite laminator

Phill started out at Sunseeker International in 1986 as a carpentry apprentice before working for other companies in the industry and returning to Sunseeker in 1999. Whilst working in the moulding and first stage department, Phill was promoted to 1st line manager in 2005. As Sunseeker’s 1st line manager, Phill worked on various lines ranging in size from 80 ft. up to 155 ft!

Phill told us about some of the amazing opportunities he’s had working in the luxury superyacht industry, “I have been tasked with some major repair work all over the world due to my experience with structural repairs. I spent the whole of 2019 travelling from Europe, Middle East and Australia repairing and upgrading one of our boat lines.”

And if that’s not cool enough, Phill’s absolute favourite project at Sunseeker was building the world’s largest fibreglass superyacht for Eddie Jordan, which is 155ft. Phill said, “this project involved working closely with surveyors and ultimately having to be signed off by RINA (Royal Institute of Naval Architecture). It was a good project being the first of its kind and the boat building was zero tolerance. It was challenging due to the complexity of the build, but I thrive on a challenge.”

Phill decided to make the move to his new role at Hythe Group because some of his old employees from Sunseeker are now working at Hythe Marine Services and he heard great things about the company. After speaking with Managing Director Josh Mathias as well as Luke Fitzgerald, Phill was sold, telling us “Hythe Group are ambitious and want to expand into the composite side of boat building and repairs. With my experience and HMS ambition, we can expand the department and branch out to bigger things.”


What will Hythe Group’s new head of laminating be doing?

Phill’s new role will involve managing and making the components for new contracts. He told us, “I will make sure that the quality is better than what they are currently expecting as I strive to deliver quality and in a time-controlled manner. I will be looking at securing contracts by putting out the feelers nationally and internationally and making the department grow, through building up trust and reputation.”

From his very first day, Phill is kicking off with a big project at the naval base. This new HMS project involves making GRP panels for Royal Naval minesweepers. The fibreglass lamination process for this project includes building up multiple layers of fibreglass to a mould tool, making sure that they are air-bubble free, before curing the moulding by means of rolling out the layers. They will then be de-moulded from the mould tools and trimmed. Once they have been inspected and signed off, they can be delivered to the customer.

Eager to get stuck in, Phill said “I’m really looking forward to the new challenge ahead and offering all my years of experience within a boat building and repair capacity. I have heard great things about HMS and can’t wait to see what we can achieve together.”

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