Last April in Saint-Malo, on the quays of the Bassin Vauban which faces the walled city, the crew of the cargo ship « Grain de Sail 1 » received on board the managers of Heidsieck to attend the loading of 1,440 bottles premium from the champagne house. A few days later, the ship set sail for New York to arrive a little over three weeks later at its destination and deliver its vintage merchandise.
This first boat, the twins Olivier and Jacques Barreauowners of the Finistère chocolate factory Grain of Sail, had it built a little over two years ago, with the aim of sourcing cocoa from Latin America and meeting environmental requirements. After four crossings, they have taken such a liking to the sea spray and believe so much in the formula that they have decided to move up a gear. A second cargo ship 50 meters long, twice the size of the first, is under construction.
350 tons of goods
Ten million euros are invested in the construction of this vast two masts, the execution of which has been entrusted to the Breton shipyard Piriou. « For price reasons, the realization of the aluminum hull is not carried out in France, at the headquarters of Concarneau de Piriou, but on its Vietnamese site », specify the leaders. The rigging is manufactured by the Lorient-based company Lorima, known for its construction of carbon fiber masts and spars.
If the schedule is respected, the “Grain de Sail 2” will be launched at the end of 2023. It will be able to transport 350 tonnes of goods, i.e. more than 230 pallets, obviously of cocoa needed by the chocolate factory. to make its products, but also many other non-perishable foodstuffs such as wine. Wine merchants, restaurateurs, in New York and elsewhere in the United States, are interested in the ethical transport launched by Grain de Sail and place orders.
Opening of capital
Freight transport by sail “kills 97% of CO² emissions”, indicate, not without a certain pride, the Barreau brothers. The argument is likely to attract SMEs and large groups who want to communicate on their environmental values, even if the price of a transatlantic sail remains higher than a freighter powered by fossil fuels.
With 1,170 m² of sail area, “Grain de Sail 2” will be able to sail in light winds. Photovoltaic panels and tidal turbines will produce the electricity needed on board. In total, more than 95% of crossing times will be sailed. A small engine will however be necessary for the often delicate maneuvers of access to the platforms. Nine crew members will be needed to operate the sailing cargo ship, which will have Saint-Malo as its home port.
With this new project, Grain de Sail, which achieves an annual turnover of 7 million euros, wants to strengthen the links between its profession of chocolate maker and that of shipowner. The company has also invested 6 million euros in its chocolate factory located in Morlaix and plans to open a second workshop in Dunkirk in 2023. To ensure the financing of its various projects, it recently opened up its capital to Bpifrance and Crédit Mutuel Equity.
Grain de Sail is not the only company today to engage in transatlantic sailing transport. Towt (Trans Oceanic Wind Transport), its neighbor based in Douarnenez (Finistère) plans to build two cargo ships with a unit size of 80 meters, for the transport of 1,100 tonnes of goods.
The construction site Piriou was also chosen to build these steel-hulled boats, equipped with a hydro generation system. At stake, electricity produced thanks to the energy of the wakes traced by the sailboats. « The wind offers the advantage of being free, plentiful offshore and predictable », summarizes Guillaume Le Grand, CEO of Towt. The company currently uses old rigs for its goods which cross the Atlantic at very slow speeds. The leader hopes to launch his first freighter in 2023. The chocolatier Cémoi, a competitor of Grain de Sail, is one of his first customers.
Grain de Sail figures
Creation date : 2010
Turnover: 7 million euros
Ability of “Grain of Sail 2”: 350 tons