Newsletter de 03-2023
America's Cup: the race against time is on
Multiplast have been chosen by the French Orient Express Team challenge, which was, officially annouced, at the beginning of February, to build the hull and deck of the French AC75.
This new project in the America's Cup is a real challenge for the Vannes yard, as explained by the general manager, Yann Penfornis, project manager, Samuel Napoleoni, and Antoine Carraz, the technical director for the challenge.
© Orient Express Team
There is already a long and beautiful story linking Multiplast and the America's Cup. Over the past thirty years, the yard has actually built six boats (five America’s Cup class and an AC50 flying catamaran) for French challenges involved in the oldest sporting trophy in the world. As Yann Penfornis, Managing Director of Multiplast recalls: “We built F1 then Ville de Paris for Marc Pajot for the 1992 America's Cup. Then there was 6e Sens for the 2000 edition in Auckland, the two Areva Challenge boats (2003) and the AC50 Groupama Team France for the 35th Cup in Bermuda in 2017.”
And so a new sequel is being written with the first approaches dating back to May 2022 by the founders of the French challenge, then called K-Challenge, Stéphane Kandler and Bruno Dubois. “A few weeks later, at the end of June, we had confirmation that we would work together to build the AC75 platform,” continues Yann Penfornis. “Unfortunately, the project was slowed because an investor pulled out. Everything accelerated again around November 15 when Stéphane Kandler and Bruno Dubois came back to us and the project restarted.”
On the part of the challenge, officially baptized Orient Express Team - from the name of the brand of the Accor group, title partner - a major advantage in this race against time has been the purchase of the design package of the future AC75 of Emirates Team New Zealand. “The project would not have been viable without this agreement,” confides Antoine Carraz, who came from MerConcept to become the technical director of Orient Express Team. “Given the timing, the size of our team and the know-how of the New Zealanders, we will get a lot from the design they are providing for us. But we will have the freedom to adapt things if we wish.” Yann Penfornis is delighted with this agreement which he considers historic: “It is the first time that a French team will be able to have the same level of maturity in the design of the platform as the defender. This is one hell of an opportunity!”
because it is the Cup”
It is now down to those involved in the construction, who have to be French, according to the protocol, to deliver the best possible boat, Multiplast in the first instance. “Multiplast is going to build the hull, the deck and the interior structure that holds it together and accepts all the forces through the platform,” explains Antoine Carraz. “The work will begin at the beginning of May with the manufacture of the hull and deck moulds, which will take about two months, until mid-July. We will then begin the layup of the hull, the deck and the various internal structures which will later be assembled in the hull, we will then close the box by grafting on deck. The build of this black box will end at the beginning of March 2024. The boat will then remain with Multiplast for the installation of systems and appendages. She will leave the yard at the end of April and will leave for Barcelona where she will be launched next May.”
Paul-Louis Defrétière: "France can be ahead in the transformation of maritime transport"
Five companies from Morbihan (Multiplast, CDK Group, Avel Robotics, SMM, Lorima) are working together in a consortium for Chantiers de l'Atlantique and are working on the SolidSail project, , a giant mast intended to be fitted to cargo ships and cruise ships with the aim of decarbonizing maritime transport. Its coordinator, Paul-Louis Defrétière, explains the issues related to this collaboration of skills.
What is your role within the consortium?
My role is to coordinate the Morbihan entities in the building of masts, through my company Mobius France. SMEs put aside their usual rivalries and join forces within a large group to produce a virtuous construction, and this is very much welcomed. As well as managing the building of the masts, my mission is to animate the negotiations so that the consortium is gradually transformed into a joint venture with the installation of the industrial tool dedicated to the production of these masts.
Why call on these particular companies working in the world of offshore racing for the build and what are their missions?
© Chantiers de l'Atlantique
Do you now have the first firm orders for the masts?
Yes, we have two masts to manufacture for the first Neoliner, a freight transport boat for the Nantes-based company Neoline. The first was delivered on December 12, the second will be in July 2024. We have received another order from the Accor group and its Orient Express brand, for the construction of two sailing ships, the Silenseas,
Each is equipped with three masts. Now, beyond these first orders, Chantiers de l’Atlantique are having discussions with serious prospects, both for cruise liners and for cargo transport vessels. Thanks to this project, France will be ahead in the transformation of maritime transport.
Is it a real new market that is opening up for these companies?
Absolutely. International regulations have set clear CO2 reduction targets in maritime transport. This very effective legislation means financial penalties for shipowners who do not reduce their impact. There are very strong incentives for change and a real will among this commercial maritime community. Around 4,000 new ships are built each year in the world and a good proportion can be equipped with a sailing solution, with the aim of reducing very significantly the greenhouse gas emissions generated by maritime transport. SolidSail is easy to use, efficient and durable: the target lifespan of a mast is 30 years
What are the next steps for the consortium?
The challenge is to reduce production time. Today, it takes us a year to build a mast. The market needs us to be moving much faster. In the medium term, it will be necessary to produce around twenty masts per year, in the long term even more. This requires a dedicated factory. Currently, we are moving from the prototype phase to a semi-production phase. In the future, we will transition to the industrial phase. All this while maintaining a level of quality in line with the target lifespan at 30 years.
- FAIR. As every year, Multiplast will be present at JEC World, the international composites exhibition, from April 25 to 27 at the Paris Nord-Villepinte exhibition center, our teams will welcome you on stand D42, located in Hall 6. Two months later, not far from there, at Le Bourget there is then the 54th edition of the International Aeronautics and Space Show will be held (June 19-25), where Multiplast will also be present on stand B67, Hall 2.
- SOLIDSAIL. The SolidSail mast, on which a consortium of five Breton companies is working for Chantiers de l'Atlantique (see the interview above), was awarded JEC Composites Innovation Award 2023 in the “Maritime transportation and shipbuilding” category.
- IMOCA. The third Imoca of the 2024 generation which Multiplast worked, after V&B-Monbana-Mayenne and Malizia-Seaexplorer, Paprec Arkéa was launched in Lorient on February 22. After the static tests and the 90° righting test, Yoann Richomme and his team sailed for the first time on March 15, producing some beautiful images.
- OCEAN FIFTY. The puzzle that is Primonial, the future Ocean Fifty by Sébastien Rogues, is gradually being put in place at Multiplast. After the rear beam and the mainsheet platform, the site teams are in the process of attaching the front beam; it then remains to graft on the floats to complete the platform. The launch of this Romaric Neyhousser design is scheduled for June.
- THE OCEAN RACE.After nearly four weeks at sea, Malizia-Seaexplorer, Boris Herrmann's Imoca, built by Multiplast, is posting very good performances on the third leg of The Ocean Race between Cape Town and Itajai, the longest in the history of the race (12,725 miles), since they crossed the Tasmanian gate in second position, including a 581 miles day. Proof of the incredible intensity of the race, the four Imocas still at sea are with in 20 miles of each other as they approach Cape Horn!
- GUNBOAT 80. Mission accomplished for the Multiplast teams mobilized on the first two Gunboat 80s, the largest cruising catamarans launched by Gunboat: the cockpit, nacelle top and transom parts have been completed and have just gone on the road to be assembled in La Grande Motte.
- SPATIAL. Mandated by a European player in the aerospace market (see newsletter d’october 2021), Multiplast has just delivered a new fairing for a satellite launcher.
- PROTOTYPE. With the hull finished and the bulkheads being installed, the deck of Jaro, the 60-foot day boat built by Multiplast for Jack Setton (see our newsletter d'october 2022), will begin very soon; the launch is scheduled for June.
© Jean-Marie Liot
IN THE CARBOMAN GROUP
Jean-Denis Bargibant: "Our priority is to keep the core fundamentals"
In June 2022, the HBH group annonouced the acquisition of the Carboman group, which today includes the companies Ouest Composites, Multiplast, Plastinov and Plastéol. Jean-Denis Bargibant, who co-directs the group with Damien Harlé, makes an initial assessment of this "marriage", nine months on.
Can you first tell us about the history and activity of Ouest Composites before the takeover of the Carboman group?
Ouest Composites is the continuation of KL Nautic, a yard which notably built the catamarans for the Trophée Clairefontaine or the 7.50 Brétéché one-designs. In 1993, the yard was transformed into Ouest Composites, because our predecessor, who understood that the boating market was very cyclical, made the decision to diversify into industry. So much so that when, with Damien, we took over Ouest Composites in December 2017, only 10% of our activity was in the boating industry, through a yard, Pro Marine, which we sold in September 2021, and subcontracting for the Beneteau group which stopped after the Covid. The rest of the activity was devoted mainly to industrial bodywork. So to the polyester trade, with customers who are industrialists in series production, like we find in leisure vehicles, such as Pilote, for whom we make front ends of motorhomes, in public works or agricultural machinery, such as Caterpillar, in passenger transport equipment, with for example Bluebus, a subsidiary of the Bolloré group based in Quimper. By customers this ranges from a few parts to thousands per year, also an ability to support them in the design and production of tools, up to the integrating into the logistics loop. All this for a turnover of around 10.5 million at the end of 2021 for a hundred employees in Auray. We also have a production site in Poland, which employs around fifty people.
You bought the Carboman group last June, which now includes Ouest Composites, Multiplast, Plastinov and Plastéol. What is your initial assessment nine months later?
We were very happy to be able to continue the story after the departure of Dominique Dubois, and after nine months, we are delighted with the operation. Our priority was first to observe to confirm the vision we could have from the outside, before starting to move cursors. We discovered within Multiplast, the main company of the Carboman group, a very strong agility, passionate employees and a real desire to continue this story. After these months observing, we will start to bring our influence and strengths, but the first thing we want is to consolidate our core fundamentals. One of the biggest dangers would be to say to yourself that we have to change everything, we are not falling into that, quite the contrary, because this is a company that has real know-how, deep roots, that it is necessary to keep behind it and promote an acceleration.
Accelerate, what does it mean? What are the challenges ahead for the group?
We have markets that are pressing very hard for all the companies in the group. One of which, in the “historic” Carboman group, Plastinov, which was a bit of a forgotten operation because it was a bit far from Multiplast's business. With Ouest Composites, Plastinov has really found strong support, because we are talking about the same professions. And what we had imagined is happening, that is to say that we are starting to bring beautiful projects into the company which, in the space of a year and a half, will be completely transformed, with in particular fifteen vacancies to be filled by the end of the year. Then, in our historical markets, the outlook is also very good. At Ouest Composites, we are in an acceleration phase, and here again, we are recruiting about fifteen employees. Finally at Multiplast, we have some great news, between the recent launch of Paprec Arkéa, the first project that we have followed in full since we arrived, the Sun Fast 30 One Design, which is progressing very well for a launch scheduled for July, and of course the America's Cup, the manufacture of the hull of which is entrusted to us (see the article above). Multiplast's other markets are also very buoyant, first with the masts within the consortium with our Breton friends for the Chantiers de l'Atlantique (see the interview above), but also all the panels for SolidSail rigid sails that we produce, with real industrialization subjects on which we are working. We also have great series prospects on three projects in the aeronautical and space universe. We are very confident that some will land which will consolidate our overall business model, and therefore maintain stability. It is really this dependable security that we wanted to bring by bringing Ouest Composites to the Carboman group. We are also looking to strengthen the teams at Multiplast with, in particular, the positions of project manager and methods technician currently being filled.
Are there already synergies, common projects within the group?
Yes, that was clearly the goal. We have companies that have different DNAs but which, for all that, are very complementary on certain projects. To cite a very concrete example, that of the Sun Fast 30 OD, it is really a project that is at the heart of Multiplast's activity, on the other hand, all the tools are made at Ouest Composites. The fact of dealing with this file intra-group brings us a certain number of facilities and allows us to have a very direct relationship, in addition to an added value which remains within the group. It also highlights areas for improvement that we had not imagined at Ouest Composites, with expectations from the “historic” Carboman group that are a cut above on technical aspects, this kind of project gets the best of both worlds.
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