Orion Pax Blog

Sunreef 100 lego WIP – How To Build A SHIP In 18 hours

This is the story and the WIP blog about how Orion Pax built the Sunreef 100 LEGO replica (or actually the very first version because Sunreef didn’t build a 100 foot version of their own models yet) and why it is branded for a Thailand divecenter. assisted, written and photographed by Niko Aigner

Quick link to the SUNREEF 100 – Thailand Dive and Sail colors LEGO replica catamaran gallery of the finished model

Why the Sunreef 100 ?

SUNREEF 100 - Thailand Dive and Sail colors LEGO Replica Catamaran

On 24th May 2013 i went to germany and visited Alex. I told him about how my new divecenter in Thailand developed and unveiled the plan to acquire a boat for our own wide-range operations. „Boat“ seemed to be the magical word of the evening to Alex, because he immediately  jumped on his computer and did a complete catamaran construction research on the internet. After 1,5 hours he stated that one of the Sunreef products would best suit my purposes and style. I was a little bit sceptical if a boat from this manufacturer would fit into our budget. In order to proof Alex’s in-depth analysis research and his answer to this question, he would be going to build a model of those yachts to convince me (once again) of nothing else but he came to the right conclusions. Also Sunreef hasn’t built one yet – in their portfolio it’s just a concept. They’ve built many beautiful catamarans bigger and many smaller than 100 feet, but not a 100ft version – Alex was fascinated by the idea of beeing the first one to really build it. Also „it wouldn’t take long – maximum two evenings..“, he said..

Sunreef 100 original sunreef concept

The Sunreef 100 original Sunreef concept, definitely the right vessel – all details on the sunreef website

The Set Up

At this time i had all my lego stored at Alex’s house and the next time i went to see him, on 16th July 2013, i had no choice but to present all my white bricks in a sorted state to him. Alex nodded and took me to his desk where he has already spent the last hour on constructing the front bow of the boat hull.

And then we spent about another hour with Alex explaining his idea of building the Sunreef 100. We’d use metallic blue baseplates in order to get the atmosphere of silvery, reflecting sea water. As we chose the 100 ft version, it was clear that it had to be 100 studs in length, so Alex organized a 100×48 baseplate setup in the chosen color.

Sunreef 100 base layout

6:25pm (18:25) measures were put on baseplates

The front with the bow of the boat would be the detacheable part of the model, and he continued to outline the overall construction to me.

Sunreef 100 bow construction

7:20pm (19:20) bow construction ready and baseplates connected

 The Most Important Design Aspects

„When designing a catamaran – the most basic configuration and shapes are all pre set!“ Alex continued lecturing me. „The ratio of length and width, the shape of the hulls and the way of connecting them with a superstructure are all well researched and tested aspects in catamaran design, there’s actually no way of improving them.. When all this is already laid out without any opportunity of doing it better, what is the the most important thing for the designer to leave a footprint of his own invention to the topic?“

What a question, i didn’t have any clue so i did a poor attempt:

„Well, i guess it is about operational specific add-ons like equipment space and handling with additional stuff..“

„FALSE!“ – i was interrupted.

He started to explain: „The most important thing a designer has to keep in mind, when constructing a new catamaran is:
Girls in bikinis! Once a catamaran is in operation, they will populate the vessel one way or the other – if you don’t invite them, they will come by themselves. So the overall design has to be a supportive background for this issue to make girls in bikinis look even better.“

IMG_2032„It’s a tricky thing – the different ways they can look, their different colors in hair and swimsuits, all the different kinds of ambient light and so on – it is a very complicated process to develop a design which can support most of these criteria with the most color combinations that girls in bikinis come with.“

I was a bit confused – after two years of working at see i had a different perspective on what’s important on boats, but he’d got a valid point there i must admit. I really didn’t know what to say but luckily in Alex presence this is never a problem

„We try it with a blonde in red swimsuit for the start – this is our seed element from now on..“ another lecture about seed elements followed whilst he continued with the hull. I got the point that this lady was our primary seed element from now on, and that she wouldn’t be alone for long.

Sunreef 100 hull base

9:50pm (21:50) hull base laid – seed element introduced – photo of Sunreef 114 as reference

The Windows on the Sunreef 100 are one of the most distinctive features, so they had to be done very close to the original. The usual train window is a perfect part for this, but unfortunately smoke transparent glasses didn’t quite create the desired results, so we had to spray paint 24 train glasses into black boat glasses.

From his experience with customizing parts as it is usual in the LEGO Company PM Department, he knew a very nice trick to spray paint small parts without making his hands dirty.

After the windows and the hull were finished, the stern of the boat could be done. Here was the point where the two hulls were connected for the second time. Other seed elements like sharks, buckets and even male divers joined the lady in red and so everything was set to celebrate the finish of the basic hull section at midnight.

Sunreef 100 stern

11:58pm (23:58) stern ready and first stable hull connections

Sunreef 100 complete hull structure

0:37 am hull structure with connection and detacheable bow complete

Sunreef 100 external interior

2:20 external interior and diving equipment

Sunreef 100 windows

3:27 am windows are ready and roof shape installed

sunreef 100 half ready

4:17 am rear interior, sliding main door and basic construction finished, time for a sleep


Sunreef 100 - after 3hrs research & planning and 9hrs of building

The result after 3hrs research & planning and 9hrs of building

After 12hrs of uninterrupted work, we took two days off to recover from that project.


 Day 2 – Mast, Sail, Upper- and Sundeck


6:00 pm (18:00) stairs to upper deck

6:00 pm (18:00) stairs to upper deck

We met again on 19th July and continued working around 5 pm (17:00) in the afternoon.

Some basic parts on the main body had to be done before we could continue with the fun parts e.g. mast, sail and all the details which will be most prominently visible at the first glance.

There is the main reeling and some handrails. The rear part of the roof and some supportive structures.

After that we would do the mast, the sail including boom, halyard and hall rope. Some communication devices, upper sundeck and steering area.

And all the ropes of course..

rear roof construction

6:05 pm (18:05) rear roof

The Mast

Alex decided to build the mast with 4×2 curved elements plus 1×1 snot and 1×1 technic bricks with hole. A light bluish grey Technic, Pin Connector Round (Pin Joiner Round) in between the 1×1 technic brick with hole adds stability to the inner technic axle.

On an automatic catamaran, there’s a kind of a rail as an attachement at the end of the boom to the roof of the catamaran, the halyard with the hall rope also called the „lazy jack“.

This lazy jack is a very important detail and has to be done – including it’s functions needs to be implemented. In the meantime it was 8pm (20:00)

The Sail

To Alex it was clear from the beginning, that the sail would have to show the logo he created for the divecenter Thailand Dive and Sail a couple of months ago. Common photopaper would do a perfect job. The material fits a lego model perfectly and provides the opportunity of hi quality print on it. It is quite easy to do if you have the talent to do everything free hand 😉

At 8:30pm (20:30) the sail was up for the first time. A very important moment, because now we saw, that everything – especially the complicated parts like mast and sail would have the right look. Until this point we had no idea if we could achieve a result which we could publish. But from now on we knew, that everything would be good!

Sail's up

8:30pm (20:30) sail’s up for the first time

Last But Not Least Details

You know, when you’re close to finish a model when every next step and detail is just pure fun to do. Just making the sailing ropes, the top flag and everything else from now on is pure enjoyment. In the meantime it was 9:30pm (21:30). We enjoyed this so much that we took our time to finish off the last details on the main upper deck and steering wheel section, so it took us another 1,5 hours until nearly 11pm (23:00) to finish off everything.

Finish Her

To be honest, it is quite clear that a Sunreef catamaran is way out of budget for my little divecenter, so it will end up as a decoration model in our small office. Therefore, i will have to bring this model to Thailand in an airplane, that’s why we’ve not bothered with details at the bow or extensive details on top or back at the moment. So now there’s a huge fun area to attach interesting details.

Sunreef 100 – Thailand Dive & Sail version lego replica

Sunreef 100 – Thailand Dive & Sail version lego replica

A very nice model in the end, and very amazing for me to see how Alex can build genius stuff in nearly no time. The entire building time for everything – including three hours of research and planning was 18 hours. I think, that’s pretty impressive and i’m happy to have the entire process on pictures. I hope you had fun reading this WIP blog and it gave you a bit of inspiration. I’m planning to build a boat half the size, when back in Thailand, and finish it within 18 days. Let’s see if this is realistic enough 😉

Yours Niko

You find the finished model gallery here:
SUNREEF 100 – Thailand Dive and Sail colors LEGO replica catamaran

One Response to Sunreef 100 lego WIP – How To Build A SHIP In 18 hours

  1. Dear Niko,

    I’m representing Sunreef Yachts PR & Marketing . We really appreciate your work and are really happy that such a construction was developed. Please provide me with the contact details so that I can contact you by email / telephone.

    Best regards,
    Anna Filipiak

Construction Toy Design and Lego Art