The 2008 crisis gave the boating industry a tough few years, but that bad patch is now well and truly behind us! Today, winds are carrying players far, crews are rolling up their sleeves and energies are coalescing to rise to a big challenge: inventing tomorrow’s boating.
MEETING THE NEEDS OF NEW USERS
They’re being called ‘neo-captains’. They’re all about immediacy, wanting to make the most of the sea with no restrictions, enjoying a unique, rousing experience, while seeking to slow down and appreciate calmness. They want bespoke offers, customised options and great flexibility. With digitalisation, boating has become more accessible and several local start-ups already stand out in this new offering, including ShareMySea, Skippair.com, Hey Captain and Ocean Serenity. Boat clubs have also appeared in the Nantes Saint-Nazaire area: Beneteau Boat Club and Boat Club de France are opening up new paths to tomorrow’s ports. What all these firms have in common is that they revisit the services and uses of sharing boats without purchasing them.
THE GEMS OF BOATING ARE HERE
Alongside big players like Beneteau, which builds its Figaro 3 models—the world’s first mass-produced monohull, one-design foil-based boats—under the Pont de Cheviré bridge, there are firms that stand out from the crowd. In the luxury sector, there is also the Black Pepper Yachts shipyard, which is well-recognised in the world of sailing-boat racing, or Darnet Design, which conceives—right in Nantes city centre—the interior design and exterior styling of superyachts.
On the outskirts of Nantes, in Saint-Herblain, there is small-to-medium-sized firm, Goïot Systems, which makes aluminium parts, while the Brava shipyard specialises in building sailing boats. Another niche company is the Bathô shipyard, which imaginatively reuses boats at the end of their lifespans to transform them into original accommodation units on dry land. Then there is the Esclain shipyard, which has offered its expertise in boat cranage, careening and maintenance in Bas-Chantenay since 1991.
On the coast, firms also provide a prestigious offering. Top racers are equipped with HSD sails made in Pornichet, while Shipelec, based in Saint-Nazaire, can be credited with designing the boat Loire Princesse. Lastly, for enthusiasts of summer sailing in boating schools, you may well have already sailed on a Sirena sports catamaran made in Le Pouliguen.
A SHARED STRATEGY FOR GREATER EFFECT
The local entities Nantes Métropole, La Carène and Cap Atlantique have adopted a pro-active approach, promoting a gateway to ‘innovation and uses’ and plans for future ports in Saint-Nazaire and Pornichet are already designed as true testing grounds for tomorrow’s boating industry. The Pays de la Loire region is also very closely involved and it partners with the European project CAPITEN, which aims to develop innovation in boating offerings and services to make them more accessible to amateurs. The synergy between public and private stakeholders, between big contracting parties and start-ups, has contributed to the emergence of collaborative projects. This local dynamism has been especially strengthened through the association NINA, a cluster that connects innovative firms in boating. Its purpose is to help create start-ups and facilitate the digital transition of more traditional firms in the industry. Alongside it, the high-level support of the innovation centres Mer Bretagne Atlantique and Atlanpole are helping give rise to innovative projects in the maritime sector. Lastly, innovation is at the heart of funding for new projects in boating, with Ekosea, a crowdfunding platform dedicated to the maritime sector and ecology.