SolidSail Mast Factory, an outstanding collaborative adventure4 min de lecture

  • Competitive sailing

Interviews, surveys, key events and news from Eurolarge Innovation members… Every 3 months, the Bretagne Sailing Valley® News covers the economic and technological news of the Breton competitive sailing. Discover below the news related to the SolidSail Mast Factory. 

Résultat de la traducti

The SolidSail project has just stepped up a gear with the creation of SolidSail Mast Factory, a company bringing together five key players in the Bretagne Sailing Valley along with Chantiers de l’Atlantique. The objective is to set up a factory in Lanester to mass-produce masts with composite sails for commercial and cruise ships from 2025.

SolidSail Mast Factory, an outstanding collaborative adventure. 

Equipping ocean liners and merchant ships with huge rigid formed sails of 1,200 m2 is the technological challenge that has been occupying engineer (and former sailor) Nicolas Abiven since 2016, at the head of the SolidSail project for the Chantiers de l’Atlantique. This concept of wind propulsion, with the aim of decarbonizing maritime transport, is based on the development of a self-supporting carbon mast of 66 meters which tilts easily to pass under the bridges of the biggest cities in the world. It is a major challenge that sees five Breton companies – Multiplast, CDK Technologies, Lorima, Avel Robotics and SMM joining forces in a consortium. By first producing a 20-tonne prototype that made it possible to validate the project technically and that can still be seen in Saint-Nazaire. “Now the second level consists of industrializing the process to reduce costs and lead times, through the creation of a dedicated factory,” explains Abiven.

A consortium of 6 partners

SolidSail Mast Factory was officially launched at the end of March, a simplified joint stock company (SAS), which brings together the six partners around a collective management, headed by the representative of the Chantiers de l ‘Atlantic. “It is the next logical step forwards for the consortium, a great aspect of this project is to see companies which are historically competitors joining forces to deal with orders of such tonnage”, comments Luc Talbourdet, who leads Avel Robotics, partner , in equal shares with the other partners in a capitalisation of 300,000 euros of the new company. “In terms of size, we are the smallest part of this collective, but we are coming up with automated draping technology by an additive method”, adds this pioneer in the robotization of marine composites.

“SolidSail is the synthesis of our thirty years of common experience in high-end composites for large parts” adds Yann Dollo, Deputy Managing Director of CDK Technologies. “The key to the success of industrialisation on this scale is with the collective intelligence of this group of former competitors who now share a common culture of collaboration, all the time enhancing what we do in pursuing carbon-free mobility and becoming major players in this arena.”

A site in Lanester 

It is very close to the SMM facility on the Rohu site, in Lanester, that the new 4,000 m2 factory will be located. Construction will begin next fall. “The land was available, ideally located in an area that really is the converging area of other partners of the project”, indicates Olivier Kerdoncuff, managing director of SMM. “Our challenge now consists in producing tubes on a single site for extremely heavy vessels with a high rate of use”, analyzes Yann Cadart, the head of Lorima for less than a year.

Jean-Denis Bargibant, associate director of the Carboman group, to which Multiplast belongs, says: “It’s a tour de force to project ourselves in this way to make such beautiful things together in series. We strongly believe in our original approach, combining industrial performance and innovation, which also makes it possible to reduce the risks in us getting into the growth area of the decarbonization market. We are really interested in getting involved in it in a very real way.”

The market is promising: eight masts have already been ordered! The first two are for the Neoline ro-ro cargo ship, which will make its first sea trials in December 2024. The other six are for the two luxury liners of the future, the Orient Express sailing ships from the Accor group, expected in 2026 and 2027. “This exponential market for sail propulsion, which we are trying to keep as much as possible in France and southern Brittany, concerns 90-95% commercial ships”, explains Nicolas Abiven, the new president of SolidSail Mast Factory. “The first year, we plan to manufacture six masts, before moving to a rate of ten to fifteen spars per year, with the objective of halving the production costs compared to the prototype that has been built.”

About thirty people – mainly technicians and engineers due to the advanced robotization of production – are expected from January 2025 on the Lanester site, which represents a total investment of around 20 million euros provided by the shareholder companies of SolidSail MastFactory.


Credit Photo : © Chantiers de l’Atlantique


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