Boating

Bérénice OUZILLEAU
Relocation Director for strategic companies and networks

THE FUTURE OF BOATING IS BEING INVENTED HERE!

People once aspired to possessing their own boat and spot in a marina. Today, people still dream of maritime pursuits, but without restrictions. Given the growing appetite for water-borne leisure activities and new modes of consumption, the Nantes Saint-Nazaire area is showcasing and supporting the boating industry and its innovative firms.

AN IDEAL LOCATION

With twenty-six sea ports, eight estuarial ports and five river ports, the Loire-Atlantique department is perfectly placed between the Morbihan and La Rochelle bodies of water, between a river and an ocean. And what’s this boating zone called? Loire-Océan!

BAS-CHANTENAY: A UNIFYING SHOWCASE

In Nantes, on the site of the former electrical plant in Bas-Chantenay, an emblematic location in Nantes’ history as an industrial port, Loire-Océan is set to become—from 2020 to 2024—the place where innovative firms in boating and maritime business converge.

TALENTS RARING TO GO

Nantes and Saint-Nazaire offer a uniquely high density of initial training courses and lifelong learning in boating. From secondary-school certificates to PhDs, from vocational colleges to renowned institutes in higher education, this comprehensive, high-quality offering is a recruiting ground for the boating industry in its search for talents.

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.

KEY FIGURES

250

FIRMS THROUGHOUT THE DEPARTMENT

OVER 10,000

PEOPLE WHO PRACTISE BOATING

18.5%

OF NATIONWIDE REVENUE IN THE BOATING INDUSTRY IS MADE IN THE PAYS DE LA LOIRE REGION

TOMORROW’S DESIGNS
The foil revolution is having an effect on all boating crafts and everything can still be invented. In Nantes, Bird-e-Marine offers foil-based electric water scooters: users ‘fly’ over water with the feeling of riding a motorbike. The cooperative SeawitLab is innovating with a soft, inflatable wing-shaped sail for rigging sailing boats. Splashelec is making sailing boats accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities, thanks to innovative steering joysticks, while CDO Innov is offering the Platypus Craft, a semi-submersible boat for underwater observation in lagoons.
HYBRID POWER
The Nantes start-up Neoline is betting on transatlantic sailing to develop freight that is economically and ecologically effective. In the same vein, the Toulouse-based start-up Airseas will be settling into Bas-Chantenay at the end of 2020 to develop its giant kite wings—the SeaWing—fastened to the front of commercial ships.
BIG DATA AND CONNECTED BOATS
Whether using data on the weather, the water or the boat, tomorrow’s boating will doubtless be internet-connected. MyNoteboat offers a kind of digital health record—Sailsense Analytics—with notifications and pro-active advice for smart sailing.
BOATING TOURISM
The coast, the Loire and the Erdre are the perfect places for practising boating of all kinds. These bodies of water just need to be made known to as many people as possible! SportRizer and Escale littorale help do so by making the best spots—and boating service providers—more prominent.
BOATING EVENTS
Boating is flying high, and so are boating events! To showcase the new Loire-Océan body of water for nautical pursuits, it is time for large-scale events too (including The Bridge, Débord de Loire, La Mer XXL, the start of the race La Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro), as well as more modest events organised by local clubs (exemplary cultural events or competitions). Locaponton provides solutions in pontoon rentals for water-borne events and the communication agency Windreport displays a great list of sailing-related events.