Guip Shipyard, Feeling Cramped on Île-aux-Moines but Expanding in Brest
It’s not every day a minister comes to visit but, on February 10, Guip had the honour of welcoming Martine Pinville to its Île-aux-Moines yard. For Mrs Pinville, France’s secretary of state for commerce and industry, it was the occasion to discover a shipyard which has been an Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant (Living Heritage Enterprise) since 2008. The French government set up the scheme to promote companies that “possess a rare, renowned or ancestral expertise based on traditional or highly technical skills” and to date only 1,400 enterprises have been EPV certified.
Paul Bonnel, director of Guip’s yard in the Morbihan, took the opportunity to present his project for a new hangar, one that is both bigger, in order to accommodate more boats, and better integrated into the landscape. He also reminded the minister of the need to deepen the approach to the slipway to make it accessible to vessels of up to 2.3 m draught. Currently, those drawing more than 1.9 m are redirected to Brest.
Yes, Guip Shipyard comprises two sites, one on Île-aux-Moines and the other in Brest. Not only do they share the same work philosophy of “respect for heritage” and “technical excellence”, they also co-operate on a regular basis. For instance, the carpenters on Île-aux-Moines recently built and delivered a new topmast and rudder for the Belle Poule, while the shipwrights in Brest carried out major works on her hull (see below).
Penn Brell All Set for Morbihan Week
Also at the Île-aux-Moines yard works are progressing on the Penn Brell, an example of the Naiad series designed by Philippe Harlé (1931–91) and listed on France’s register of heritage vessels. For many years this sweet sloop’s centreboard was rusted fast into its case, which prevented her from performing to the best of her ability on the water. Here she is with ballast removed and refit complete, ready to join the fleet en route for the famous Morbihan Week in May.
New Deck for Tom Tit
Tom Tit is a keel boat designed for racing. She belongs to the French 6.5 Metre Class created in 1906 by Eugène Laverne of the Cercle de la Voile de Paris and Louis Dyèvre of the Société des Régates de Vannes. Known affectionately in regatta circles as the chemin de fer (railway), the class was made national in 1907 by the Yacht Club de France and then international for the 1920 Olympic Games. From 1920 to 1923 the 6.5 m was the sailing boat of the One Ton Cup.
Of these, the Tom Tit has survived. Here she is, looking pristine with her new teak deck and ready for the water (launch scheduled for July).
And the Guépard Keeps Running
Guip Shipyard’s signature piece is the Guépard, a Gunter-rigged one-design dinghy created in the 1960s by French architect Étienne Riguidel, uncle to the famous Eugène. To date the yard has launched no fewer than forty-five of these V-bottomed craft and continues to maintain them in prime condition.
Guip’s site in Brest will soon have a new 35 x 12 m hangar devoted entirely to the French “cheetah” to satisfy the growing demand generated by its fans hailing from all over Europe.
Belle Poule’s major refit is complete. It was a spruce and dandy schooner that slid back into the water on March 16 to mark the end of the works commissioned by the French Navy. The first phase began in 2015 with the replacement of the after deckhouse and various strakes, stanchions, beams and deck planks. Aloft, she got a new yard for the lower topsail and a new gaff for the main.
The following year Guip focused on renewing an essential part of the Belle Poule’s backbone, her sternpost. It was a complex operation, one that had never before been attempted on a vessel of her size, requiring the attention of no fewer than ten shipwrights.
Works are nearing completion on the Cap Sizun, a traditional lobster-fishing vessel from Audierne which is run by the enthusiastic volunteers of the sailing trust Bateau Cap Sizun. Launched in 1990 as part of the wooden boat-building competition organized by the magazine Chasse-marée, she reached the midway point of her third decade needing some maintenance. The refit included changing the bulwarks, recaulking and resealing the seams between the deck planks, and replacing the hatches, the coach roof, the gaff and the jib-boom.
The Cap Sizun is once again on top form for charter work and her role in promoting the maritime heritage of Brittany in the Bay of Audierne and further afield.
Built in 1916 and known by a string of names during her career – Eroika, Gilnockie, Polaris, Étoile Polaire – this magnificent gaff ketch bears once again her original moniker: Skeaf. A previous Guip newsletter told her tumultuous story, a tale of hard knocks, of adventures and misadventures in times of war and peace. Undoubtedly her lowest point was in 2003 when, during a routine lift-out, she slipped from her cradle to suffer serious damage forward. As a result, Guip Shipyard was brought in to renew her bow section.
These more recent works were a continuation of the 2003 rebuild and, in particular, Guip replaced her remaining wooden frames and floors with metal ones, two horn-timbers in the stern and several strakes. The ballast and the engine compartment of her 50-tonne, 23-metre hull (30 m LOA) were also overhauled. Many yachts of the early twentieth century were given metal frames when built; in this case Guip Shipyard was retrofitting them, a job which required the design and manufacture of special tools.
Skeaf went back in the water in late April.
Brand New Deck for Séverine
Replica of the Kinkajou designed in 1927 by John G. Alden, the Séverine (formerly Saint Salomon) is an 18.8 m LOA aluminium schooner built in 1993. Her Spanish owner commissioned Guip Shipyard to carry out extensive works, including the renewal of her interior, rigging and deck.
Previously, her teak deck planks were fastened directly onto the metal, causing corrosion and other related problems. The chosen solution is to lay marine ply over the beams to create a barrier between the aluminium and the teak.
Séverine should be back in the water by December.
Danish architect Knud Reimers (1906–87) drew the plans for the Glana in 1946. His brief was for an 8mR that would sail well in light winds and she was built the following year for the famous Swiss general Henri Guisan. Of all the International or Metre Rule categories the 8mR was perhaps the most prestigious, with the kings of Spain being among its most fervent admirers. Averaging 14 metres in length, boats offered decent accommodation below without requiring a legion of deckhands. Approximately 500 were built after the inception of the class in 1907 and, according to the International Eight Register, 177 are still sailing. International eight-metre racers took part in the Olympics from 1908 to 1936. One 8mR, found abandoned in Arcachon in 1931 by Vito Dumas, which he subsequently purchased and re-rigged as a yawl, even accomplished a daring Atlantic crossing over five legs and seventy-six days!
In recent years the Glana has enjoyed a more sedate existence sailing on Lake Geneva. She goes back in the water in late June with some new frames and a freshly painted hull.
Danycan the Indomitable
Built in 1949 at the Pierre Delmez Shipyard in Perreux-sur-Marne from plans by the Lorient architect Eugène Cornu (1903–87), the Danycan is a Bermudian sloop with an elegant canoe stern. This RORC Class III seized an impressive haul of cruising trophies between 1952 and 1961 with Count Michel de Rosanbo at the helm.
Subsequently she passed from hand to hand before falling into disrepair. Danycan’s twelfth and current owner acquired her in 2008 and set about restoring her in accordance with the original plans. Financial help from the State and the councils of Brittany, Finistère and Crozon ensured that works could get underway in 2009. Local shipwrights Les Charpentiers de Marine Camarétois carried out extensive repairs and by 2014 she was back in the water and racing. In March 2011 the Danycan entered France’s register of historic vessels.
A second phase began in 2016 with Guip Shipyard replacing the after part of her backbone, namely the sternpost, deadwood and horn timber.
But Danycan’s current visit to the yard is only for general maintenance and should not exceed the end of May.