The word innovation sells and attracts journalists. Many have understood it and there was no shortage of events on new boating trends during the Nautic 2017. From the 1st edition of the Nautic Innovation Awards to the Nautic Start-up Day of the Brittany region, via the round table on innovation at the annual conference of the Confédération du Nautisme et de la Plaisance, everyone had a date. Nevertheless, it is clear that it was easier to innovate in the name than in the content, with 3 themes constantly recurring: foils, the connected boat and "new uses".
The ubiquitous foil
The foil is the sailor's future. Its omnipresence in presentations would eclipse almost all other technical innovations. Almost a third of the companies pitching at the Nautic Start-Up Day and a quarter of the nominees for the Nautic Innovation Awards were related to the flying boat. Seair won the Nautic Innovation Awards for its hydrofoil Zodiac and Absolute Dreamer the Nautic Start Up Day award for the additive manufacture of appendages.
If it could seduce many young practitioners, the foil is not yet within everyone's reach. Hervé Gastinel, President of the Bénéteau Group, underlined the interest of the Vendée-based manufacturer in its application to motor boats during a round table discussion. "Engine applications are particularly attractive today, but we still need to work on safety." Cost issues are also at stake.
Boat connected, but for what?
As in the rest of the economy, we see the adjective "connected" flourishing in boating. Nevertheless, it covers very different realities. Is the application of simple classical home automation to boats, presented by major shipyards as an innovation under pompous names, really so? Many of the elements presented have already been seen in cars and houses. Nevertheless, we have seen some interesting solutions on the maintenance side, such as the Offshore Connected Maintenance of the Grand Large Yachting group or Nauti Concept, a solution to help the maintenance of a fleet of owner-operated or rented boats.
The autonomous boat is also in the line of sight. Kara Technologies, in partnership with Allures Yachting, announces the arrival of a boat that can dock and leave the port without crew intervention.
The third recurring innovation also follows the major trends in society. It concerns the habits of those who no longer want to buy their boats according to the traditional model. The Boat Clubs, which made the news in the spring of 2017, are one of the most promoted alternatives to buying a boat. The various purchase financing solutions are also developing. The entire boating industry is preparing for the change in use, as shown by the study on collaborative boating presented by the Association of Marinas of Brittany.
Other avenues to explore
While foils, connected boats and alternatives to ownership are important, it is regrettable that major issues such as environmentally friendly materials or clean propulsion are not given as much visibility in the support for innovation.