Interview / A new manager at the helm of the legendary META shipyard

Patrice Passinge and Philippe Brabetz, the former and new leaders of Méta (From left to right)

META, the historic shipyard at the origin of Bernard Moitessier's sailboat Joshua, changes ownership. Philippe Brabetz, its new manager, explains his career and his ambitions for the aluminium boat specialist.

After 15 years at the head of the META shipyard, Patrice Passinge sold his company. The company, founded in 1961 in Tarare in the Rhône, is famous for having built Bernard Moitessier's sailing yacht Joshua and for having developed the Strongall® thick aluminium construction process since the 1970s. New owner of META since March 12, 2020, Philippe Brabetz presents his career and his projects for the aluminium boat builder.

The Joshua de Moitessier, the originator of the META project

What led you to buy the META shipyard?

I'm a trained DPLG building architect. During my studies in Paris La Vilette, I attend Dominique Presle's naval architecture courses. After my degree, I worked in the audiovisual industry, creating sets and special effects between 1995 and 2001. But, still passionate about shipbuilding, in 2005, I entered the DPEA of Nantes' naval architecture department, which ended with an internship in the construction of the monohull of the Areva Challenge for the America's Cup. I then worked in shipyards and naval architecture firms in France, Spain and Morocco. It was during this period that I came up with the idea of the Turbokeels, a twin keel system where the ballast is ballasted from one side to the other. After I patented it, I took over a shipyard as a matter of course.

Why the choice of the META yard?

I met Patrice Passinge (Editor's note: the former owner of META) while looking for a building site: he offered me to take over META. The long-distance boats, META's speciality, are particularly adapted to the Turbokeels project. We agreed on a transmission period of 6 months. A development pole will then be created on the Tarare site in partnership with Patrice.

META, accustomed to original projects, worked in particular with Olbia for the production of New World hulls

What are the development plans and philosophy for META in the future?

The objective is to move from the logic of a boilermaker to that of a builder of turnkey boats, by relying on the META brand and our know-how, while maintaining the activity of the
one-off (custom boat), another specialty of the shipyard.

META currently employs 6 people: 4 boilermakers, Patrice as workshop manager, a management assistant and myself as manager. The shipyard makes about ten boats a year for about 1 Meuros of turnover. The development will involve the opening of the fitting-out division and the creation of ranges: sailing, motor and professional boats.

What about Strongall, the iconic material for META boats?

This remains META's trademark. In general, we will be relying on technological development and thinking in particular about an evolution of the Strongall® for lighter and more efficient boats.