Designing A Multihull - From pre-project to development

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The launch of a new multihull is a crucial moment for a manufacturer: in just a few weeks, the quality of the reception of this new model by the specialist press and potential buyers will dictate the thickness of the order book, and therefore the pace of future production. In the longer term this means a potential return on investment - or not. Or a rebalancing between development expenses and sales of the new model. We have tried to find precise figures for the amounts of these investments but were met with a polite refusal on the part of the manufacturers. Obviously, the subject is very sensitive... We should specify that these amounts are in any case extremely variable according to the size of the multihull, the size of the yard, the use of part of the existing tooling, etc... One thing is certain: the builders must anticipate the wishes of their future customers. This is a crucial decision that has now become particularly complex in the face of boundless specifications. The number of models on offer and their diversity are responsible for this new situation. In 1987, the specifications submitted to Marc Van Peteghem and Vincent Lauriot Prévost (VPLP) for the Lagoon 55 could be summed up in three words: elegant, livable and fast. This was the beginning of the age of production multihulls. At the time, there was not enough feedback from potential buyers, who just had to be satisfied with what was on offer. Needless to say, all that has changed: the specifications are now a much bigger part of the package. «Listening to the client’s wishes and studying their sailing styles was the biggest change,» says Olivier Racoupeau, from Berret-Racoupeau Yacht Design. Today, you only have to look at our Buyer’s Guide from last December to see that each segment and niche of the market is occupied by a model or a manufacturer. Shipyards have freed themselves from all the technical and safety constraints which are now well under control. They are now focusing on product positioning and attractiveness. And there’s no doubt that, in this field, customers are well served: everything or almost everything exists! And it is precisely this «almost» that makes the difference. Inventing and proposing the new and innovative concept is the challenge faced by the development teams. To achieve this, an armada of tools, actions and contributors have to be put in place and coordinated. The timing is necessarily quite long between the beginning of the development and the release of the multihull at the boat shows. «It is a period of one to two years - sometimes more - especially if the objectives are ambitious,» explains Bruno Belmont from Bénéteau Group.

The comparative study of the competition or of different generations of products is all part of the new investigations 

Preliminary studies to position the products

Long gone are the days when a vague freehand sketch on a paper tablecloth could serve as a starting point for an architect’s briefing. The study of ...

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