Big interview with the President of Allures, Outremer, Garcia and Gunboat Yachts - Part One

Stephan Grand Large Yachting

Grand Large Yachting was founded in 2003 in France by Xavier Desmarest and Stephan Constance and consists of five shipyards and two service based companies, with headquarters across France and in the US. The brands are well know amongst sailors as Allures, Garcia, Outremer and Gunboat.

In this interview with Stephan Constance(right) , President of the Group, we´ll learn more about the different brands and what lies behind it all. 

 

A dream come through

As they planned a sabbatical year sailing around the world with their families, Stephan Constance and Xavier Desmarest, who met during their studies at the same engineering school, looked for a boat that would meet their needs. Despite extensive searching, they found nothing. They found their frustration was shared by many sailors and long distance cruisers and an idea began to form in their minds. The two men spotted a business opportunity to develop the ultimate sailing cruiser, and Allures Yachting and Grand Large Yachting were born.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into sailing?

- In 2001/2002, I assessed the leisure boat market as a prospect buyer. My plan was to go for a circumnavigation with my family for a couple of years.
It was a joint project with an engineering school friend, Xavier Desmarest, who had a similar project. The idea was to buy the boat equally and to alternate sailing.

During that process we made two key findings:

1.The aluminum centerboarder design is a wonderful concept for long distance sailing

2. The offer on the market was not satisfying from our perspective: boats were either too old fashioned or too expensive.

 The Allures 45.9. Photo by: ©Robin Christol

The Allures 45.9. Photo by: ©Robin Christol

We started then to think about a custom and innovative build and we interviewed [naval] architects.
During that process, we met other sailors who shared a similar frustration. Slightly, the personal project turned into a professional one as we realized that there might be a need for a game changer in this niche market.


Starting from a white page of paper, it was easier for us than for incumbents to design a contemporary and innovative boat. For instance, inspired by commercial boat and superyachts, we made up our mind for a composite (GRP) superstructure top of the aluminum hull. Because of that the boat offers the best of both worlds: the safety of an aluminum hull and the lightness, freedom of shape, insulation, and easy maintenance of a composite deck.

We founded Allures Yachting in 2003. We benefited from a booming sales and grew at a fast pace. 

Grand Large Yachting consists of four different brands. Can you tell us more about the different brands like Outremer, Garcia, Allures and Gunboat?

- External growth has never been on our strategic agenda.
Nevertheless, when Outremer failed in 2007 we visited the yard to see whether we could do something smart with it. Catamarans was steadily growing in popularity at that time, and we felt we should consider this alternative for bluewater sailors.

 Outremer 5x. Photo by: ©Robin Christol

Outremer 5x. Photo by: ©Robin Christol

- We fell in love with the Outremer concept: a light and fast catamaran (for active safety), simple for hassle free navigation.
Despite the fact that our bid was not the highest, the court chose our offer.

I believe the fast growth of Allures Yachting was key to convince that we had a relevant industrial organization which paced the way for the turnaround of Outremer.
Since the takeover, the turnover of Outremer has been multiplied by 10 and the yard has received 3 European Yacht of the Year awards! 

In 2010, we took over Garcia yard (semi-custom, custom-build aluminum yachts ranging from 45 to 110’).
In 2013, Alumarine (aluminum work boats / passenger boats) joined the group.
In 2015, we acquired Ocean Voyager (day-charter catamarans).

Eventually, in 2016, we took over the iconic US Gunboat yard , the carbon epoxy raced inspired luxurious catamarans. Besides, we developed servicing activities to accompany our owners’ projects (seminar, training, after-sales, refit and maintenance, brokerage, etc.) 

 Bluewater cruising in the fast lane. Photo by: ©Gunboat

Bluewater cruising in the fast lane. Photo by: ©Gunboat

If you imagine a typical European family with two adults and two children, which yacht from your portfolio would you recommend for a cruise to Scandinavia? For example a sail up to Denmark/Sweden then up the West Coast of Norway up to Northern Norway and then back via Shetland and the Faroe Islands.

- All our yachts would fit this seducing program, but I’m inclined to recommend the Allures 39.9. I like the idea to offer all Allures Yachting benefits in a reasonable budget: aluminum hull, GRP deck, twin wheels and rudders, slick design, vast modern layout including an important storage / workshop area. In her two cabins version, she would be ideal for this European family, being as comfortable as performant and reassuring. If the kids don’t want to share a double berth, and as we build only upon order, we could customize the forward cabin into twin berths.

 The Allures 39.9. Photo by: © Morris Adant

The Allures 39.9. Photo by: © Morris Adant

- As temperature can be chilly in those regions even in the summer, in addition to the foam insulation of the hull, we would definitely install a good heating system. As there are not many marinas, and to have a maximum of autonomy, we would strongly recommend a water-maker, a good set of solar panels, a wind generator and even a hydro-generator. A good mix of green energy to enjoy sailing our planet without a trace.

Click on the button below for part two of this interview.