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Q&A with Çağın Genç

CEO, Sirena Marine
Çağın Genç, CEO, Sirena Marine

Çağın Genç, CEO, Sirena Marine

In the latter part of 2021,Turkey-based Sirena Marine promoted Çağın Genç to CEO. Genç has been with Sirena for more than 13 years and held a variety of roles with the company, serving as production manager, plant director and director of marine before becoming chief operating officer in 2019.

The builder produces powerboats from 58 to 88 feet, as well as Azuree and Euphoria sailing yachts. It is also looking towards filling in its current line, with models within that size range and one smaller than 58 feet.

And Sirena plans on going bigger. ”We will have three new semicustom models between around 30 and 50 meters [98 to 164 feet] in length and below 500 gross tons that will retain the design DNA of our existing fleet,” Genç announced last year. Briefs are expected from a bevy of what he calls the yard’s “favorite designers.” The builder has worked with Germán Frers, Rob Humphreys, Tommaso Spadolini, Cor D. Rover and Giovanni Ceccarelli.

Soundings Trade Only spoke with Genç about his start in the Turkish marine business, Sirena’s early days as a contract builder for Azimut Yachts, the company’s automotive DNA and its plans for the future.

You earned degrees in mechanical engineering and naval architecture. What was your plan?

My target was to be an engineer, and [in Turkey] after you finish your high school, you take a test and according to the points you get, you are nominated for the departments. I targeted several departments, like aircraft engineering, mechanical engineering and naval architecture. My points matched with naval architecture. That’s how I entered this adventure. I joined the Istanbul Technical University, the naval architecture department.

The flagship 88 made its world premiere at the Cannes Yachting Festival in 2019.  Last August, Sirena sold the sixth unit to an American buyer.

The flagship 88 made its world premiere at the Cannes Yachting Festival in 2019. Last August, Sirena sold the sixth unit to an American buyer.

After you graduated, where did your marine industry career begin?

I started working on composite boats around 30 to 35 meters [90 to 115 feet]. It was an interesting material for us because in the university, we worked with steel and aluminum. It was a fun challenge for us to [learn] the properties of the material. After that builder closed, the design team established another company that focused on engineering and project management [and] worked with several well-known Turkish companies, such as RMK Marine and other shipyards in Antalya. Around 2005, I joined Numarine. I spent three years with them. I started working for Sirena Marine in 2008.

Tell us about the early days at Sirena.

The company was [founded] in 2006 to build boats for Azimut. Our holding company is well known for automotive production; our discipline is set up on the automotive structure. Azimut targeted us to produce its smaller boats in Turkey. We started with the Azimut 42 [Flybridge], of which they produced many in Italy. Azimut helped us to grow the structure, [solve] quality issues and ramp up operations. After two or three [42s] we began to produce Azimut 55s and some other legacy models.

Both companies agreed to establish a joint venture company, which is called Azimut Marine. I moved to that company as a production manager. Because of the limitations in our contract, Sirena Marine couldn’t produce motorboats, just sailboats — this is how the Azuree brand was established, and a few years later, our Euphoria brand, which is a higher segment than the
Azuree.

We were then building the Azimut 38s and 40s, new models that Azimut put on the market. And all the engineering and the tooling — everything was done by us. The idea was to produce 150 to 200 boats per year. But after the 2008
financial crisis, it never happened. Both parties agreed to dissolve the company.

I moved back to Sirena Marine in 2012. With the advantage of dissolution, we also exited from the limitation in the contract, and we were able to produce motorboats. In 2013, we started doing something on paper. And in 2017, we showed our first boat, the 64, at boot Düsseldorf.

Sirena Marine began as a contract builder for Azimut Yachts and still builds its Magellano 43. 

Sirena Marine began as a contract builder for Azimut Yachts and still builds its Magellano 43. 

What did Sirena learn from working with Aziumut? Are there projects that Sirena still executes for that brand?

The most important part was establishing our overall operations and attention to detail. Azimut showed us how to take care of those details that we shouldn’t miss. We are still building the Magellano 43 for Azimut.

What have you learned since the premiere of the first Sirena 64 in 2017?

Our experience was to mass-produce boats, and when we moved to the motorboat side, the request for the customization needed to be implemented into the system. This change in our philosophy was both the most affected and most improved part of our business. We completely changed our way of doing things to semicustomized boats, building 12 to 15 per year.

Regarding the process part of it, our automotive DNA has helped us to grow the company. We established an automotive-type system. It is not 100 percent possible to implement all the structure, but we had the chance to pick the ones that are useful for boatbuilding, and this mixture created our efficient company.

Currently, we are also suppliers for well-known train manufacturers Siemens and Alstom, and bus manufacturers Mercedes and MAN, thanks to our composite production and stainless steel production.

The flybridge on the 88 takes advantage of the boat’s 23-foot beam. There’s a hot tub aft and to port.

The flybridge on the 88 takes advantage of the boat’s 23-foot beam. There’s a hot tub aft and to port.

Why do you think your semi­displacement boats are popular?

Our idea was to have a boat with good seakeeping ability that can go fast, if needed, and have low fuel consumption in the lower speeds. These were the boxes to be checked. For all those, we did tank tests in Southampton University. During the sea trials, we then proved that we can get the numbers we were expecting. We [found] that even when you don’t use a Seakeeper … you are getting good results by means of seakeeping. And we came away impressed with fuel consumption on the lower speeds.

Our spacious interior gives another plus against our competitors. Once we started selling boats, especially in U.S., we started to earn a good reputation. And having all those unique selling points on the boat puts us in a higher position for the customers.

How have the supply-chain issues affected Sirena?

Well, this is the headache at the moment. It started with the first period of the pandemic. Italy is our leading supplier — we were getting about 35 percent of our materials from Italy. They were the most affected country at the beginning. They had to lock down, and we couldn’t have a chance to access the materials.

We decided then to slow down the production. Also, there was an incentive from the government to reduce the time of the work. This is how we managed for two or three months, but everything goes back to original. We started working hard again, nearly 24/7. And trying to be back on the track.

Nowadays, the other issue is the lack of raw materials, the chemicals [for fiberglass construction], and we are having problems on supplying the main engines and also generators. We are looking for alternatives — swapping them with similar-quality engines and generators, of course in agreement with our customers. This is how we are trying to manage at the moment.

Sirena Marine builds sailboats under the Euphoria and Azuree brands.

Sirena Marine builds sailboats under the Euphoria and Azuree brands.

Turkey has such a rich history of boatbuilding. What are the advantages of building there?

We are in the third place in the world after Italy and the Netherlands in boatbuilding revenue, and you get this at an advantageous economic cost in Turkey. Great craftsmanship has put us ahead in furniture and stainless steel production. I think [the latter] is the secret of the Turkish marine industry.

Regarding Sirena Marine, we have two facilities: One is in Tuzla, where we are building our larger models, and the other is in Orhangazi in the Bursa Province. In Orhangazi, we are doing all the composite and furniture production. We have workshops for teak, electrics, stainless steel and upholstery. Basically, we are doing everything in-house. This gives us the ability to control the quality of our work.

Sirena recently announced its intention to enter the superyacht segment. Can you expand on that?

Our target is to present the line at the Monaco 2022 boat show. I can say everything is on the paper. We have some candidates of designers, and hopefully we will receive all the proposals and in early 2022 decide how we will proceed.

What about constuction materials? Will this addition to the lineup require a new facility?

Probably, it’s going to be a steel hull and aluminum superstructure. At the moment, we will build at our facility in Tuzla. But if there is going to be more demand, we may need to get to a bigger facility with direct water access.

How about expanding the current Sirena range?

We currently have plans on adding a smaller size in the Sirena’s range, smaller than the 58 on a semidispacement hull. At the moment, we can produce 40, 45 boats on average, by size per year. Our idea is to go up to 50, 55 boats average.

The 88’s foredeck pool — with a glass front for unobstructed views —  is flanked by teak 
side decks and sunpads.

The 88’s foredeck pool — with a glass front for unobstructed views — is flanked by teak side decks and sunpads.

Tell us about your ideal day on the water.

When I was the production manager, nearly half of my week was on the water, dealing with our new launches. Nowadays, it’s chartering a boat with my family in the summertime. We usually charter a boat in Turkey, in the south where there are really good anchorages.

If you haven’t come before, I suggest you to visit at least once. There are special Turkish wooden boats called gulets (a traditional design of a two- or -three masted wooden sailing vessel) and they have four or five cabins. We charter them with family and friends. My kids and I spend all the time on the water, exploring and snorkeling. 

This article was originally published in the February 2022 issue.

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