He laid the foundations of the world's largest sailboat manufacturer: Who is Benjamin Bénéteau?

For more than a hundred years, Bénéteau has been building fishing vessels and yachts. Today, with six production units in France and one in the USA, Bénéteau has become the world's leading shipyard.

By David Foster Published on 9 Şubat 2024 : 16:50.
He laid the foundations of the world's largest sailboat manufacturer: Who is Benjamin Bénéteau?

In 1884, naval architect Benjamin Bénéteau founded his first shipyard in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, France. In 1912, the first motor tuna ship went to sea, making an outstanding contribution to the expansion of the ship company. In 1964, Bénéteau entered the yacht market and proceeded without hesitation.

In addition to yachting, which accounts for the largest share of Bénéteau's company's business, it also uses its resources to produce houses, bungalows, and vehicles that do not require a driver's license.

Beneteau or Bénéteau is a French sail and motor boat manufacturer, with production facilities in France and in the United States. The company is a large and recognized boat builder, with its holding company (Groupe Beneteau) now also holding other prestige brands such as Jeanneau and its multihull subsidiary Lagoon in 1995.

Today, BENETEAU produces 11 types of sailboats and motorboats, opening the world of cruising boats to as many people as possible.


Benjamin's fate would be extraordinary. He was born in St-Gilles into a large family of small means. At the age of 6, he was adopted by one of his uncles, François Houyère. He was a lonely man, and he passed on his passion for the sea, adventure, and boats to his adopted son. However, at 12, Benjamin became a steward on the ship Eliza. He would start his dream of building a boat in the shipyard of his best friend's father. His determination would convince his uncle and he would enter Rochefort for military service in late 1879.


And then the Great War intervened. The shipyard would start up again in 1928, after he lost his mother and father and it was time for Benjamin's only son André Bénéteau, then 21 years old, to take over the shipyard.

Beneteau, the world's largest sailboat manufacturer

Its story, which started many years ago with a small workshop on the shores of France overlooking the Bay of Biscay, has today become an important industrial success with factories in the same region and in America. The importance of this success for us is the role played by Beneteau in offering quality boats to the market at affordable prices.

The story begins in 1884 when grandfather Benjamin Beneteau produced powerful wooden fishing boats in a tiny town called Croix de Vie for the fishermen who earned their living in the Bay of Biscay. Beneteau has been successfully building the same type of boats for years, first with sailboats and then with motors.

After many years, plastic was discovered; It is said that plastic and fiberglass will be used in boat construction. And this is naturally heard in Croix de Vie.

One day, a fisherman comes and orders a new boat. The people in the workshop make the shell from this new material, not wood, without consulting the customer. Conclusion; The customer is unhappy, angry, yelling, and walking away without paying a single penny. The shell remains in Beneteau's hands.

Years pass; Someone who came to the region from Paris to order a small private yacht asks what that shell in the garden is. He gets encouraged when he learns his story and wants his boat to be made from that shell. And the boat is being built. It is affordable, durable, and most importantly, easy to maintain compared to wood. As they say; The rest is history. Exactly.

Beneteau produces all the boats in most of its factories in the well-groomed Vendee region. There are new and old factories, which are divided according to the length of the boats. You often see trucks carrying packaged boats from factories that produce 55 different types of boats on the highways and on the narrow roads of the Vendee through agricultural lands.

The boats are loaded onto ships and unloaded at the ports where they are sent all over the world. Or they are sent to small marinas; They are prepared here and delivered to representative companies in every country.

The story of Beneteau becoming one of France's most important industrial companies begins in 1964. The great transformation begins after Annette Beneteau, one of the relatives of founder Benjamin Beneteau, visits the well-known but shrinking workshop. Due to the decreasing demand, the production of fishing boats is being switched to the production of small and medium-sized motor boats. In 1974, sailboat production, which made Beneteau a brand that sailors know by heart and which was the reason for the establishment of the workshop in 1884, started again.

Those who know Anette Beneteau say that she does not show her determination on the outside, but that she is a very good businesswoman and a visionary.

Women work at critical points

Beneteau has 7 factories in the Vendee Region. Most of the production is done in these factories, where approximately 2500 people work. Orders from North American customers are completed in a factory there, and the interiors of a significant portion of the boats are prepared in France and assembly is carried out there.

Beneteau's visionary manager is a woman; Anette Beneteau. Many critical employees of Beneteau, whose names I do not know, are women. Many women worked in the hull and deck construction department of the factory, which was intoxicating with the smell of acetone and other chemicals. Factory managers explained that women are much more reliable than men in the fiber-polyester business, which is the most delicate production process that ensures the lightness and durability of the bodies.

Roughly speaking; The inside of the giant molds is covered with large fiberglass cloths and the disgustingly smelly liquid polyester is fed into them - layer by layer. In this process, the polyester ratio must be just right; That's why workers walking around with brass rolls in their hands on hard fiberglass cloths adjust the required ratio of fiberglass to polyester by eye. Women do this job best.

Apart from this, the stations next to the boats where women work are examples of order. Drum lids must be kept closed to prevent polyester, which contains greenhouse gases, from evaporating. In the stations where women work, the covers are closed, and in the stations where men work, as you guessed, they are open.

In other words, women at Beneteau do important and critical work from top to bottom.

Frankly, I was surprised to come across so many women in a boat factory. For example, there were not that many women in the Bavaria factory I had seen before. It can probably be said that this situation arises from the close relationship of the Vendee region with the sea.