Shipyard visit / Impact on the DFi to win back the race market

Incidence Sail website in Brest © Bateaux.com

Incidence Sails is the leading French sailmaker in terms of turnover. Created 30 years ago, it is now recognized as one of the Top 5 sailmakers in the world. Discovery of a Breton company which produces sails 100% made in France and which will equip 6 sailing boats of the Vendée Globe.

Recovering market share in the world of ocean racing

The Cullenec brothers, ocean racers, created the Incidence sailmaker in the 1980s. Until 2008, it supplied more than half of the offshore racing teams and ¾ of the Vendée Globe fleet. But the arrival of innovative technological sails, launched by the American giant and world leader, North Sails, caused them to lose market share.

After a restructuring in 2011, and the merger of two of the historic sites (Brest and La Rochelle), Incidence has now become a group with 5 production units: Brest, Lorient, La Rochelle, Toulon and Fial (in Vendée) and employs 110 people at the various sites. The brand is also present throughout the world in the Canary Islands, the United States, Palma de Mallorca and New Caledonia.

In 2013, the group is investing 2 million euros in research and development to develop a filamentary membrane: DFi. It is in the entity of Périgny (La Rochelle), where engineers and design offices are installed, that the sailmaking works on the development of very technical fabrics, lighter, resistant and reliable.

It is thanks to these technological sails that the French No. 1 intends to re-enter the offshore racing market. And the bet wins since six IMOCA will be equipped with Incidence sails.

"This filament membrane, released a year ago, allows us to return to ocean racing, because North Sails, market leader, launched a similar product before us and has regained many market shares, explains Morgan Riou, site manager at Brest.

National leader and top 5 worldwide

Incidence is the N°1 sailmaker in France and is in the top 5 in the world, alongside the Americans North Sails and Doyle or the French Quantum. But what makes it famous are its French sails and its mastery of the entire design and manufacturing chain (from research and development to finishing)

In 2015, Incidence Sails achieved 12 million euros in turnover per year and 15% in direct export (end customer). Turnover breaks down as follows: 50% of sails for construction boats, 15% for offshore racing yachts, 15% for superyachts and 20% for private individuals. The site produces between 20 to 30 sails per week, or about 1000 sails per year.

Future prospects..

The French sailmaker has ambition and wishes to develop several perspectives such as the development of new materials, aerodynamics (calculations) to develop different sail shapes or wind tunnel work to develop even faster sail shapes.

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