Groupe Beneteau is known for its world-leading innovations, popular designs, a drive to always improve its offering, and a growing focus on sustainability. Seabreeze had the opportunity to talk with Gianguido Girotti about all the latest activity at Beneteau.
SM: One of the biggest news from Groupe Beneteau in recent years has been the revival of the popular FIRST line. What was the decision behind bringing back this legendary range and how has it been received?
GG: Accomplishing the rebirth of the FIRST line was something that was several years in the making. Put simply, the FIRST line is iconic – with FIRST we wanted to recreate the feeling of the pleasure of performance and of being on board fast but comfortable boats, but without compromising heavily on comfort to achieve that performance. We began with the FIRST 53 and then it made sense to derive a complete range. The 44 and the 36 are the natural consequence of that and we now have a complete offering, which is fantastic.
SM: What makes the FIRST line so special?
GG: When you go inside them you have the same comfort as bigger boats, with quality construction and high comfort levels, but then you also have incredible performance capabilities. This blend of elements is what defines FIRST designs. Each of the models is special in its own way. We have one owner who has a FIRST 53, and now he is going to buy a FIRST 36 as they are both great for different purposes. At their core FIRST designs are the perfect blend for owners who love the thrill of performance sailing but also want their family and friends to be able to enjoy the vessel – they are so versatile.
SM: How has the market responded to the FIRST relaunch?
GG: We’ve had extremely good feedback, right from the beginning with the FIRST 53. The market response proves this type of boat is what many owners are after. We’re very happy as there are not many other brands that can offer such a bouquet of products. I think one thing Covid-19 has taught us is the understanding that we only have one life and enjoying experiences like sailing are more important than ever. It’s now more about the experiences we share than the product itself.
SM: What innovations or trends are you seeing at Groupe Beneteau?
GG: There are different ways of looking at that question. There are evolutionary technologies, such as the introduction of catamarans, and I’m very interested to see how power catamarans develop and become more mainstream. Then there is the growing importance of sustainability, which is very important to us and influences all we do. One trend we are seeing is the importance of a yacht being a home from home and designing yachts that fit that brief is key. Foil assisted boats are another interesting development on many levels, including reduction of motion to help reduce seasickness, as well as increasing performance efficiencies. We are also focused a lot on connectivity and simplifying on board systems. We are always evolving and looking for ways to better serve our customers.
SM: You mentioned sustainability – what work are you doing in that field?
GG: We work to integrate sustainability into each and every element of a boat, from using natural upholstery materials to using recycled resin. We want to be leading the field for recycled resin and pushing the market to evolve. We also recently started a partnership with Torqeedo, who are market leaders in electric motors, and we are working actively with Volvo for hybrid solutions for our mid-range boats. It is clear that the next generation are very passionate about sustainability, and this will be a big drive for their buying decisions – they will really care about the values of a brand. We cannot sit and wait for others to act, it is our responsibility to make a difference. We like to do, not talk, and then we improve and evolve and respond to customer feedback. We are always trying to do better and have lots of exciting things in the works.