Nicolas Groleau and JPS Production, where the new IBSA Class 40 Mach 5 is being built

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Nicolas Groleau and JPS Production, where the new IBSA Class 40 Mach 5 is being built

Nicolas Groleau is the director of the shipyard JPS Production, which is based in the industrial area of ​​Kemarquer, in La Trinité-sur-mer, and where in these weeks IBSA’s new Class 40 Mach 5 is being built, to be then skippered by Alberto Bona.  

Nicolas – who has thirty years of boatbuilding experience – is a skipper himself and, while watching him work, moving around the shipyard with his team, one can feel the skill that has made him one of the most coveted builders for offshore sailing. The sea is flowing in his veins, he always has it inside him, even when ashore. When he looks at the hulls under construction in the shipyard shed, he is already imagining them among the waves, in the middle of the ocean; he sees them already “adult”, as they face the open sea, because each of them is like a growing daughter, ready to set sail in due time.

We mainly cater for professionals, but amateurs benefit from the same treatment. An architect gives us his projects and we do everything, from A to Z. Since 2011, we essentially produce Class 40s. In the Transat Jacques Vabre 2019, the first four boats had been built in this yard”, said with understandable pride Nicolas, who has been in charge of the JPS shipyard since 1996.

His passion for sailing comes from afar and, like many sailors, Nicolas also comes from a family who loved the sea, and therefore sailed a lot as a child. “Our house was full of sailing magazines, Cahiers du Yachting, Voiles & Voiliers … When I finished high school, I was very interested in naval architecture and construction, but it seemed risky to announce this passion to my family. At 19, I started working in a construction site”. The year 1987 is a turning point for Nicolas: a great storm is raging on the coast of Brittany, and the shipyards are hiring staff. Nicolas meets Charlie Capelle and with him, in 1988, he throws himself into the first boat-captain project. “Charlie represented the frontline of technology at the time; he wanted to start a project for a Formula 28, which then was a fashion series. I followed the whole project, as well as the workmanship, and from 1990 to 1992 I sailed on that catamaran. That experience allowed me to meet many local sailors and to help them when they were preparing their offshore regattas”.

Nicolas and his shipyard are known for the production of the Open 7.50 series, the first one of which came out of the new-born JPS’s yard in 1998. This model gave fame to his work, and to him visibility among the operators of the sector. In the following years, Sébastien Magnen proposed to Nicolas to build a Mach 6.50 model. “Seb had won two Mini Transats on that boat; he had designed it himself. He imagined a very innovative hull: we wanted a powerful, light, highly evolved boat”.

In 2005 the meeting with Samuel Manuard takes place, and they move on to the production of larger models. “Sam is a designer who sails a lot, he’s very pragmatic. The Mach 45 was born in 2007. We wanted a lot of inside space and more height”. With the production of this model, the yard becomes similar to what one sees today, in the current location and with a full-time staff. In 2010, the production of the Mach 40 starts, once again based on a Sam Manuard’s project. The Mach 40s achieves several successes, and Sam updates and improves the project which, still in the JPS shipyard, is then applied to the new models. At the same time, the production of the 6.50s continues.

Nicolas also keeps on sailing. “For many years I competed with the yard employees. We achieved good results, too”. Nicolas and his team constantly work on the boats they sail on, modifying details and introducing constant innovations. In 2020, at the Drheam Cup, he sailed with a crew together with Sam with the Mach 40, finishing second. Their sporting and professional bond continues over the years, up to the present time.

Nicolas has always worked with an eye to the future. In 2017 – when it was still a pioneering project – he launched into the production of boats with foils. One of his dreams is to make a boat that can fly.

His goal has always been to work on boats that can bring innovations to sailing, in design, in the use of materials, in the manufacturing methods. And the Mach 5 construction project, naturally, goes in that direction.

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