YARD UPDATE '08: Wrighton...

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YARD UPDATE '08: Wrighton...

Yard Updates

Bilge-keel sailing cruisers; sells direct; new Bi-Loup 30…

MARCH 2008

Based in Béthune, near Lille, some 100km (62 miles) or so from Calais, Ferench builder Wrighton offers a three-model range of bilge-keel sailing cruisers presently. They are the Bi-Loup 77, which will be re-designed this year and will probably be re-launched as the Bi-Loup 26, the Bi-Loup 30, a replacement for the old Bi-Loup 89 that was first shown at La Rochelle ’07 and has already attractive 30 firm orders, and the four-year-old flagship Bi-Loup 36. There is also said to be a bigger Bi-Loup 39/40 on the ‘drawingboard’
As a guide top prices, excluding taxes but with relatively high standard specifications, the Bi-Loup 77 begins at around €33,000, the B-Loup 30 at €63,000 and the Bi-Loup 36 at €114,000.
Now around 36 years old, Wrighton sells direct, so consequently most sales tend to be to the company’s mainland domestic market. However, just recently it has stared to look further a field for its clients. For instance, it recently delivered boats to New Caledonia and to the French West Indies in the Caribbean. And it is planning to push its range on the other side of La Manche, the French name for the English Channel, where it believes its models’ shoal-draughts and drying abilities should prove popular. Owner-président Mederic Thiout, who acquired the yard three years ago and has already more than doubled its activity, says he hopes to take two boats to the Southampton show in September.

'The company’s turnover for ’08 should comfortably top €3 million...'

Production currently stands at around 40-45 boats a year and capacity could stretch to 50 without significant investments in facilities, says Thiout. The model mix currently consists of mostly 30s, up to 30 this year should be delivered, with say 10 36s and a handful on 77s. So the company’s turnover for ’08 should comfortably top €3 million.
Wrighton employs 22 people full-time, but also boosts that with various temporary staff in the peak periods. Everything is done in-house. The hulls are moulded with three-part tooling, a similar approach to that commonly employed for the moulding of catamarans. Vinylester is the standard resin choice, although an epoxy option is available on all three models. There is a choice of five different interior veneers too — teak, maple, mahogany, bossé and wengé.
Indeed Wrighton’s sales position is sufficiently healthy at the moment for ‘08 production to have been virtually sold out prior to the Paris’s Salon Nautique in December ’07. “I am really optimistic about our end of the market,” says Thiout. “We have a niche market really all to ourselves. The mainstream doesn’t worry us and the French market is still very strong.”
The Wrighton logo incidentally is said to be two sea bass, which reflects the products twin keels.

For more, www.wrightonyachts.com.

© Phil Draper