With the massive popularity of surfing in recent years, (thanks to companies like Saturdays bringing it into the fashion fold), we wonder when sailing will take off with equal hype. The excitement of being on the ocean or a great lake and rigging the sails, heeling to a strong wind and listening to the waves sure beats the drone of a motorboat any day.
One company taking a refreshing take on the sailboat is Victoire yachts. Established in 1961 in The Netherlands, they have collaborated with the Dutch-Danish design office, Powerhouse Company. We spoke to Charles Bessard, partner of the Powerhouse Company office in Copenhagen to hear more about this new beauty.
We know there are passionate sailors but do you see a recent trend in more people appreciating the sport?
Yes, certainly! Today there is a much wider diversity of sailors than there was 40 years ago. And this is echoed by the offer on the market.
In the late sixties and seventies a large part of the offer were small, mid-priced, polyester boats. Today there is a very wide offer ranging from to cheap to very high-end, in all kind of sizes. Also there is a very wide array of sailing programs, from racing to day boats to 100% cruising yachts. However, some segments of the market are dynamic, while others that have reached their maturity.
In the industry we have seen there is a globally a steady growth of large units above 50 feet, despite the economic crisis. The other trend, which is perhaps more recent, is a demand for mid-sized units of 40 to 50 feet with high-end finishes and with a stronger emphasis on experience of sailing. We have seen for a few decades boats becoming bigger and bigger, focusing in fitting as many cabins, berths, bathrooms, kitchen space, etc, as possible. Many of these were designed more as a substitute to a holiday homes rather than a sailing yacht. But today we see a growing number of people with the desire to return to the pleasure of sailing without necessarily having racing ambitions.
What are these customers looking for?
They are looking for the comfort and spaciousness of a mid-sized unit, but without the absolute need of being able to host a full family every weekend. These customers do not want to sacrifice their sailing pleasure and sailing experience for a larger number of berths. Comfort in harbors is still very important, but they also want to retrieve some great sailing sensations, with a more lively sailing experience. It is not only about speed anymore, or space, but it is about something much more fundamental and holistic: pleasure. This is something that is not quantifiable in knots or square meters, but it is something that it is increasingly important for people.
How did the collaboration between Powerhouse Company and Victoire come about?
Geert Wilmink, the owner of Victoire, was closely following some of our architectural work. He was particularly interested in our approach to integrated design, in which final details are not the last thing to be thought of by the architect, but in which the detail is a very important part of the experience of a building, or, in this instance, of a yacht.
The style and the atmosphere are very important in the design, but the tactility of materials, the way they feel when you touch them and the feeling of how well things are assembled and constructed, is even more important and fundamental in our designs and in our approach to functionality and beauty.
Geert was looking for an approach going beyond just styling, and wanted to create more timeless qualities. So one day over Christmas he asked us what would be our approach to boat design. The history of Victoire, the way it developed over the years, was very interesting for us. So instead of coming with a completely new design we proposed to him an evolutionary approach to the design. Something both modern and classic springing from the specific DNA of Victoire, preserving the legacy, while on the other hand setting a new course.
Would you consider this a hybrid yacht since it does have a sail?
No, this a pure sailing boat! It sails so graciously that you don’t really want to turn on the engine. I think that’s really the magnetic charm of classic hulls.