France. The sea air of Le Nautic sweeps across Paris.

Friday, 14 December 2012


Offers of dream voyages and cruises, grand plans, tall ship rig-climbing, simulators, beginners sessions and demonstrations, and more emotional live chats with the skippers of the Vendée Globe: Le Nautic is an unmissable rendez-vous with the open ocean in the very depths of the Parisian winter. Entry is free for kids and the boat show's late-night opening on Friday means you can enjoy the sea air till 2200 hours tomorrow!

Tall Ship Training: the sea at the heart of a vast social integration project
It's on the stand for the Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development that Admiral Pierre-François Forissier, the French Navy's former Chief of Staff, revealed the outlines of the Grand Voilier Ecole (Tall Ship College) this Thursday morning. Via a project of the same name and as an extension of Eric Tabarly's dream, the aim is to build a modern three-masted vessel, which is designed to convey the values of the sea and the oceans to young people from all different backgrounds. "The Grand Voilier Ecole association must be able to take some 3,000 young people sailing each year. As such, we're endeavouring to group together some partners around this educational infrastructure, in favour of exchanges between the generations and the cultures. A genuine floating forum, it will be placed at the disposal of decision makers, universities or associations to play host to promotional or awareness-raising events, whilst retaining its primary objective of training. On our blue planet, which is in crisis, this Grand Voilier Ecole must get those involved to understand that the future lies in the sea", said a contagiously enthusiastic Pierre-François Forissier.

Today, Friday, at 1900 hours, another innovative project will be presented by DCNS on the Scène Nautic with radio legend Christian Bex: Bloo Planet, the top marine social network, is gathering together all the relevant public figures around eight themes: Culture, Environment, Geopolitics, History, Innovation, Professions, Sport and Leisure and Voyages…

And you mustn't forget the Prize-Giving ceremony for the Prix du Livre Maritime (Maritime Book Prize) at 1600 hours, with L'Express and Côté Ouest magazines, which will reward the finest book of the year in this category!

In the meantime, the entertainment lined up at the Nautic is continuing to pull in the crowds in increasing number:

Everyone over to the Spot!
Are you keen to sample the thrills of dinghy sailing? Eager to discover the trend-topping Stand up paddle? Curious to see some wakeboard demonstrations, a sport which is to waterskiing what snowboarding is to alpine skiing? Then quickly make it over to the Spot MACIF, at the heart of the watersports and boardsports village. In addition to the rescue demonstrations being carried out by the SNSM (RNLI-equivalent in the UK), the large 50-metre long basin which graces the spot, always has something going on and is proving to be one of the show's most popular attractions. "We even welcome tiny-tots that are knee-high to a grasshopper, who we give their first taste of what you can find on the water. We also lend wetsuits to 6-8 year olds who want to give Stand Up Paddle a go… There's really something for everyone", explains Erwan Lafitte, the Spot's Master of Ceremonies.

Accrovoile: sailing and climbing for young things!
True to form, the Nautic is offering up a great range of entertainment designed to inspire the younger visitor to the show. Topping the bill is Accrovoile, a recreational device which is a fresh twist on the climbing wall, by inviting children to climb up eight metres into the rigging of a three-masted vessel inspired by tall ships like the Belem. Though the outdoor centres and schools have had star billing throughout the past week, this proposal, which is open to all and completely free of charge, will welcome families this coming weekend. Don't be afraid, as you'll be hooked on with harnesses as you climb up into the rigging, and don't let the queue dissuade you either: Accrovoile can take up to one hundred people an hour as they try to reach new heights.

VORissimo!
In the aisles of the boat show, it's hard to escape the 4D simulator proposed by Lorient Grand Large. This display invites two people at a time to step aboard a VOR (Volvo Ocean Race boat) the extreme sailing yacht, which competed in the crewed round the world race with stopovers, the last edition of which was won by the French team skippered by Franck Cammas. Raging seas, powerful winds… and the ride of your life through hellish surf… it's all yours for the taking! It's a gripping, invigorating experience, which leaves you with slightly wobbly legs as you step back on terra firma. A treat not to be missed!
For those who prefer reality, they can always put their muscles to the test on the FFV's (French Sailing Federation) coffee grinders or on the rowing machines from France's Pays de la Loire region. For the youngsters, there's always the chance to go for a sail on the Open Bic simulator.

Hello to the Roaring Forties...
Ah, the magic of live broadcasts! It was in the context of a videoconference on the Scène Nautic with François Gabart, that the public were this afternoon able to share and experience at first hand, the intensity of the planetary battle being played out at the front of the pack in the Vendée Globe race. Though it was easy to establish contact, the skipper of MACIF had to cut short the conversation today. The reasons for this were the sea conditions, which have seriously deteriorated over the past 24 hours, calling for the utmost vigilance at all times. "There are a lot of waves, 4-metre waves, very chaotic seas and lots of slamming. It's not easy for me to concentrate on your questions and I'm finding it difficult to hear you. In fact, I must go now…." declared François, before hanging up and disappearing from the screen in so doing. The latest news suggested that all was well aboard. Still battling it out with Armel Le Cléac'h, he had a lead of just 7 miles over his toughest opponent some 45° South, in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

However, the Nautic is nothing if not a complete panorama of the sailing on offer all over the globe, including the calmer, sunnier climes. As such, there are a great many ways to prepare for your next holiday:

Dream Yacht, the French leader, is boosting its presence in Turkey with the opening of a base in Fethiye, as well as on the North American continent where it has two new bases: one in Newport Rhode Island, the other in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. As such it's now possible to discover the ultra-chic coastline of Rhode Island and Maine during a family cruise…

Moorings is also fleshing out its fleet with two new craft of 48 and 58 feet. The Moorings 4800 will be available from February from certain bases in the Caribbean and North America and, from June in Turkey. The Moorings 5800 has taken the title of ‘flagship of the fleet' with no less than six double cabins, one of which is reserved for the crew.

Sunsail is continuing to develop its wide range of fleet sailing opportunities and has further enriched its catalogue with even more sumptuous destinations: Palma in Mediterranean Majorca, the Seychelles and Australia in the Asia-Pacific basin, as well as Vancouver and San Francisco in North America, where some First 40s are kitted up for racing and are now up for charter.

At Kiriakoulis – Vent Portant, the breaking news is the opening of a base in Saint Martin, which covers all the sailing programmes in the French West Indies. In the Mediterranean, a fourth base is opening in Didyme, Turkey. This charter company is also the first to offer the new Dufour 500 GL for charter too.

Océan Evasion is offering a unique package aimed at perfecting your catamaran handling skills. Over the course of a weekend, the training session, which takes place on a Bahia 46 setting out from Lorient, provides future charterers with the key skills required to skipper a charter catamaran, without the need for a professional crew aboard, including anchoring, mooring, manoeuvring when underway and under sail, safety, etc.

Spartivento, the Italian charter company, has a brand new destination in Calabria. 12 monohulls from 37 to 50 feet are available setting out from Tropea for a coastal cruise, either for port hopping or traversing the Aeolian Islands.

Finally, somewhat closer to home, nearly all the charter companies in France are present at the Nautic Paris Boat Show. These include the Breton Atlantique Concept Voile, which enables charters from Lorient – France's Sailing City – including what are rare craft on the charter market, such as the twin keel RM 1060 and 1260, or the Ovni 345, a 100% aluminium dinghy.

All the horizons, from large to small projects, to the greatest adventures and the most recreational of entertainment programmes, are drawing in crowds from all walks of life to the Nautic Paris Boat Show.

Géraldine Bonneau

Last Updated ( Friday, 14 December 2012 )