About the builder
Pierre-Yves de la Riviere is an unlikely boatbuilder. His father worked in real estate and none of his family were sailors. After school, Pierre-Yves studied at business school and got a job working for an insurance company. But the seed of curiosity had been sown by boating magazines his father bought out of a general interest in maritime culture. After a few months working at the insurance company – and despite having by then got married and had a first child – he decided he had to get out and do something he was passionate about, so enrolled on the boatbuilding course at the Ateliers de L’Enfer in Douarnenez.
While there he got in touch with François Vivier, who’d established a reputation as France’s leading designer of traditional boats with a string of successful designs. A couple of years earlier, Vivier had won a competition to design ‘un bateau pour allez aux îles’ (‘a boat to go to the islands’) with his 22ft Stir Ven dayboat. Although a model of the boat had been made, no-one had yet built the real thing. Pierre-Yves immediately spotted an opportunity to kickstart his business by building a boat with excellent pedigree and an existing media profile.
He built the first Stir Ven in 1999 and exhibited her at the Paris Boat Show that year. It was, in effect, his boatbuilding apprenticeship, and he admits the standard was “good amateur construction” rather than professional. But it was good enough for Vivier to order one for himself – Pierre-Yves’s first commission. And so Pierre-Yves’s boatbuilding business Grand-Largue (‘broach reach’) was born.
The Stir Ven was just the start of things. At that time, Vivier’s designs were built by a number of different yards, but Grand-Largue would soon become the yard to go to for a Vivier boat. The Stir Ven was followed by the Laïta (an 11ft 10in pram dinghy), and then in 2002 came the 15ft ‘voile aviron’ (sail/oar) dinghy Minahouët, the first Vivier boat designed specifically for CNC cutting.
Once Pierre-Yves had committed to buying an expensive CNC cutter, there was no going back.
Since then, the company has gone from strength to strength, building about 20 Stir Vens, a dozen or so Minahouëts and a similar number of Béniguet, as well as dozens of kits.