I traveled to La Rochelle, France the first week of May to visit the Fountaine Pajot factory. I met with Fountaine Pajot executives Romain Motteau and Steven Guedeu and previewed the new Astréa 42. There have been so many exciting developments with this company over the last year, it’s sometimes hard to keep up with them. Spending quality time together to plan for the future was a welcomed opportunity.
Fountaine Pajot’s most recent development is its acquisition of Dufour Yachts, the second largest yacht builder based in La Rochelle and one of the leading monohull brands in Europe. The acquisition offers many avenues for Fountaine Pajot in the monohull market and increased economies of scale and purchasing power. Additionally, the acquisition has greatly increased their pool of highly skilled labor, which has been one of the largest impediments to increasing production. The benefits to the Fountaine Pajot multihull lines will translate into better value and increased production capacity, both of which will be evident shortly. Stay tuned for news regarding secret new models under development that are scheduled to go into production soon!
The primary Fountaine Pajot shipyard in La Rochelle (Aigrefueille) continues to expand by leaps and bounds with new executive and sales offices having just been completed. We will have a beautiful space for our meetings and tours with our North American clients during our next factory visit in December. If you are interested in learning more about these tours, and perhaps joining us in the future, please check out our blog from a recent trip or contact an Atlantic Cruising Yachts consultant. What impressed me the most about the shipyard was the incredible activity taking place. Between truckloads of parts and materials constantly arriving and new Lucia 40s, Astréa 42s, Helia 44s, Saona 47s, and Saba 50s rolling off the line, the shipyard was buzzing with energy.
I had the opportunity to see the new Astréa 42 in the final stages of production and was immediately impressed with its size! A Helia 44 was directly next to it on the line and the Astréa 42 felt larger inside despite the same cockpit space, although with a wider seating area astern. As it turns out, it has 10% more interior volume than the Helia 44. The Astréa 42’s length is about 1.5′ less and this is found only in a shorter trampoline. The foredeck lounge area is about the same and the interior living areas are larger. The icing on the cake is the incredible shower in the Maestro version – just like the Saona 47. The Astréa 42 has the nicest owner’s cabin I have ever seen on a boat under 45′.
While in La Rochelle I enjoyed a lovely dinner at the home of Fountaine Pajot founder Jean Francois Fountaine, his wife Claire (who sits atop the board of directors), Steven, and Romain. We have all collaborated for many years now and have seen many changes in the industry during that time. We have become more like family than business associates. It’s a wonderful partnership and I am more excited than ever about the joint future of Atlantic Cruising Yachts and Fountaine Pajot.