Interview / Boat Club de France: "The 1st season has validated the concept"

Bruno Voisard, founder of the Boat Club de France

Bruno Voisard, President of the Boat Club de France, talks to BoatIndustry about the lessons learned during the first summer season: customers, operations, development...

Bruno Voisard, former director of Nautitech, launched the Boat Club de France in spring 2017, a structure that allows its members to sail from different ports on the club's boats, in return for an entrance ticket and an annual fee. The formula is presented as a solution halfway between ownership and rental. After a first summer boating season, Bruno Voisard has agreed to make a first assessment with BoatIndustry.

Can you give us some figures to locate the Boat Club de France today?

Bruno Voisard: This first launch season was deliberately modest and the figures are not necessarily significant, but they do show a trend. The Boat Club de France now has 25 members who can sail on 7 boats, from La Baule, Piriac or Pornic. The fleet is composed of Highfield and Zodiac semi-rigid boats as well as open hulls such as Cap Camarat.

As a manager, what do you remember from that first summer of operation?

I have had a long experience in rental and the first thing that stands out is the difference in behaviour. During the summer, I didn't have any breakage on the boats, while the rental ratio is about one damage every 3 outings. For members, it is their boats. I even got a call from a member who was looking for the hose to clean the boat, I never had it rented! We had started with the idea of only having new boats, but some beginner members, even if they take care of them, prefer to take the helm of a boat that they are not afraid to scratch. The boats of older owners meet this demand.

The other difference is the number of outputs. Each member went out about ten times this summer, more than the average owner.

In economic terms, what does the model offer in terms of rental?

For the manager, a Boat Club is cheaper than rental customers. We spend more time beforehand to explain how it works and to go out with the member. On the other hand, there is no need to make an inventory or paperwork at each exit. The control of the boat is done without him so faster. The care taken with the equipment also reduces the cost.

What about the club aspect and the relationship between and with members?

There is a real aspect of transmission. For example, I was able to accompany a member who had just obtained his licence, or give a small training course in sea bass fishing. We are a transmission link that finds its place after the training boats. Exchanges also take place between members on the pontoons.

Pornic Harbour

What are the future developments?

We have already validated at least 10 additional bases for next year in the Channel, Atlantic and Mediterranean. The ports are interested in welcoming us because it creates life and economic activity, even if there are more users per boat. For example, an agreement has been concluded with the Morbihan Port Company.

We will also launch a survey at the French level to identify interested boaters. From 10 prospects on a port, we will open a Boat Club.

There is no sailing today at the Boat Club de France. Is this on the agenda?

We want to launch the sail through small sportboats, easy to clean and manage. The habitable ones are more difficult to manage in our model. We have to think about sailing anyway, because some partner ports are only willing to allocate places to mixed sail and motor fleets.

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