Jeanneau hardware store in the town square of Les Herbiers, they may well have been served by a quiet, unassuming and perhaps slightly shy, but professional young man in his mid-twenties, who was the son of the shop’s owner. Henri was apparently inspired to consider watersports after seeing a speedboat being trucked past the hardware shop, so one weekend in October 1951 Henri and Nelly visited a local nautical fête at the nearby Lake Tricherie and saw a demonstration of water skiing. It must have been love at first sight, for just one week later LIGIER Sport & Prototypes 1969-1975 et 2014 PDF had found an advert for a second-hand runabout dinghy suitable for waterskiing in Arromanches, Normandy, over 350km away.
Enfin un livre consacré aux voitures construites par Guy Ligier. Bien qu’ayant évolué à très haut niveau de compétition, elles n’y avait pas encore eu droit.
Initially boating was just going to be a hobby, but his entrepreneurial flair was beginning to show through and in 1954 he formed a consortium for the bulk purchase of ten 30hp Johnson Outboards from the French importer Fenwick. This endurance race was effectively a survival of the fittest contest. The winner of the race was simply declared by the maximum number of laps a boat and driver had achieved within the 6 hour time limit around a short course up and down the Seine and around three of the Paris bridges. Henri’s success generated such interest he decided to build a few copies, so in 1957 Jeanneau formerly began business as a boatbuilder.
By 1959 he was employing three craftsman who had existing boat and canoe building skills in his workshop, at least one had previously worked for Pierre Matonnat, famous for building exquisite canoes and wooden speedboats. Indeed these early Jeanneau designs have notable design similarities to the Matonnat craft. On a visit by Henri and Nelly to America to study current boatbuilding methods they recognised that polyester resin and glass fibre had numerous advantages over wood for volume production. So in 1961 the Calanque, made its debut, a simple dayboat with a fibreglass hull that initially retained a wooden deck and could be fitted with up to an 18hp outboard.
In 1961 a brand new Jeanneau factory and showroom opened, representing a considerable investment and self-assurance in the future prospects for his designs. A mix of performance runabouts and simple dinghy’s rapidly followed including the Lion de Mer, St. This profusion of names was something that was to stick with Jeanneau well into the 1990’s with at times a seemingly random and even bizarre range of model titles. 90m Sea Bird appeared, Jeanneau’s first two-berth cabin boat, typically supplied with a 40hp outboard that allowed water skiing, it was aimed for use by all the family and proved a great commercial success. The visit to America also clearly influenced the next stage of Jeanneau speedboat design, with futuristic styling elements that included tail fins, front light pods and wrap around windshields.
Henri’s faith in his products and the robustness of fibreglass was demonstrated to journalists by driving the boats at high speed up onto the lakeside banks and even landing on roadways, quite the showman. In the early sixties, sailing was rapidly gaining the imagination of the French public, and so creating new opportunities for boat builders like Jeanneau. For the first Jeanneau sailboat Henri went in 1963 to the prolific Dutch designer Ericus Gerhardus van de Stadt which resulted in the very sporty Alizé first launched in 1964. But evidently keen and able to expand on multiple fronts 1966 also saw Jeanneau produce their first inboard power cruiser, the Imperator 900. The brochure photo shows a simple spartan fit-out, supplemented by loose cane furniture. Despite the lack of sales for the Storm, Henri clearly remained convinced of the potential of the sailing market so in late 1968 commissioned Philippe Harlé, who five years previously had penned the classic plywood Muscadet, to create the Sangria, an inspired move as the model eventually sold 2,700 boats over a fourteen year production run, becoming one of the World’s most successful series production sailboats.