Dominique Presles: Disappearance of a figure in naval architecture

Lady Barbaretta, 105-foot catamaran designed by Dominique Presles

The naval architect Dominique Presles has left us. A look back at the career of an eclectic professional, from sailing boat to trawler, including teaching and writing the famous book "Architecture Navale".

Disappearance of Dominique Presles

The naval architect Dominique Presles died at the age of 79 in his house in Arradon in the Gulf of Morbihan. He leaves behind him an important legacy for the whole of his profession, notably through his achievements in yachting and in his work in the transmission of naval architecture.

A disciple of André Mauric and Jean Knocker

Dominique Presles' first experience of naval architecture was with Jean Knocker. As a passionate student of boats with the desire to stop everything, he contacts him to enter his shipyard. Jean Knocker tried to dissuade him, but he insisted and finally spent 10 months training with him. He then joined the firm of the famous André Mauric where he continued to forge his knowledge of naval architecture.

From racing and cruising sailboat to trawler

In 40 years, Dominique Presles has carried out 60 projects for ships ranging from 5 to 35 metres. He works with all materials: aluminium, steel or composite. Sailing and regatta enthusiasts remember the schooner Grand Louis designed for André Viant, the first French sailboat in the first crewed round-the-world race in 1973. The Fernande, Petrouchka also marked the cruising race.

Dominique Presles also designs production yachts for yachtsmen with the Pen Duick 600 and the Craff 33. He is working on luxury cruising projects, such as the 105-foot high-tech catamaran at the time, Lady Barbaretta, in epoxy carbon.

Pen Duick 600

He is also interested in professional vessels, designing trawlers for the La Houle shipping line or the Villefranche-sur-mer Porte boat. Dominique Presles is also involved in the restoration and reconstruction of heritage wooden sailing ships, such as the Lougre Corentin or the Fleur de Lampaul.

Teaching and transmission of naval architecture

Dominique Presles' trace in naval architecture is not limited to his boats and plans. He was at the origin of the first training courses in the sector, with the launch in 1971 of courses at the Paris La Villette School of Architecture, which became a DPEA and a partner of ENSTA Bretagne.

The "Paulet-Presles", nickname of the book "Architecture Navale, Connaissance et Pratique" (Naval Architecture, Knowledge and Practice) written with Dominique Paulet, is part of the library of all the naval architects of the country. Its third edition was published in 2018. It synthesizes many fundamentals of the design of pleasure boats and merchant ships.

Frédéric Neuman, who had known him for a long time, testifies to his willingness to share his knowledge. "We had been working together for 20 years, since I was his trainee in 1998. Beyond what he gave me, transmission was very important to him. He always valued the youth he trusted. It was a part of him."

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