About the builder

Practical Boat Owner - - Practical -

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.