Windelo Catamarans: an eco-responsible approach, from material research to the factory

Profile of the future catamaran Windelo 50

Beyond the use of the boat, Windelo wants to include its catamarans in an eco-responsible approach. Olivier Kauffmann explains his R&D program on materials, his construction choices and his factory project, all guided by a desire to respect the environment.

Making a boat that is globally eco-responsible

Before finding the name Windelo, the project's code name was Eco-Cata. This means that the ecological aspect is one of the first ingredients in Olivier Kauffmann's recipe for the launch of his new catamaran brand. In these times of greenwashing, the trend is classic, but the entrepreneur seems sincere and shows a willingness to think globally. " The eco-responsible side has been there since the beginning of the project. It affects all aspects, the boat, but also the design of the factory, the way of working and the use of the boat. With a view to setting up the eco-organisation, APER has structured itself to obtain accreditation. Given the complexity of setting up such a structure, it will probably be the only one. "

A materials research program

While the results cannot yet be disclosed, Olivier Kauffmann recounts an approach launched several years ago to find the right material for the construction of Windelo catamarans We have launched a research program with the Ecole des Mines d'Alès. I invested equity and raised funds, obtained grants from the Ademe to work on new composites. The goal is to develop our material. We started by characterizing what exists on the market and then compared our solutions with other materials. We have filed patents and we will be able to use our new sandwich with alternative fibres to glass. We're still working on the resins. We have reached the development and prototyping phase on real parts of the boat. We adjust the industrial process. With a view to setting up the eco-organisation, APER has structured itself to obtain accreditation. Given the complexity of setting up such a structure, it will probably be the only one. "

Construction on marble

The classic construction of composite pleasure boats uses moulds. This solution imposes costly investments and makes production less flexible. " When they talked about the Windelo project with all the captains of the boating industry, they always talked to me about the mould. It blocks them. So I thought of an assembled solution, with very large developable panels built on marble, a technique that already exists. I am convinced that models must change quickly and this makes it possible to adapt. "For finer water intakes, Windelo keeps a bottom of hull mould, but the rest of the sailboat is made of assembled panels. The manufacturer thus limits the environmental impact associated with unnecessary tools and retains the possibility of customised boats.

Flat construction for Day One catamarans

A dismountable boat factory

The Windelo catamaran manufacturing plant should be delivered in July 2019 to Canet-en-Roussillon. Installed on a plot of land of 10,800 m² from side to side, of which 7,500 m² can be built, the first sequence of works includes 1,700 m² of buildings. A phasing is planned to follow the evolution of the demand for multihulls. " I made the choice of France after having made a world tour of the possibilities. It is a mixture of conviction and economic relevance. There is a will of the Occitania region, the support of the Perpignan conurbation and an industrial fabric with a know-how that we benefit from with the collaboration of Jean-Pierre Prade, the founder of Catana. "explains Olivier Kauffmann.

But in an eco-responsibility approach, the plant must not become an industrial wasteland at the end of the experiment. The contractor has incorporated this parameter into his building project. " I pulled out a container house project I had to abandon a few years ago. The idea is that of a dismountable factory, with container walls that accommodate offices and storage. If necessary, we can trace it back further. "A particularly relevant concern in a region affected by rising water levels...

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