At the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in early November I had the pleasure of meeting Delphine André, from Beneteau Yachts, onboard the new Swift Trawler 30. After chatting, it came to light that Delphine is both the lead engineer on Beneteau’s project manager for the Swift Trawler line. There wasn’t time during the busy boat show to ask her all the questions I wanted to about her influence on the design, but I was able to ask her a few questions after the show. Given the well thought out nature of Beneteau’s Swift Trawlers it was no surprise to learn that Delphine is passionate about both her job and boating.
How did boating become a career for you?
I would say that I am so lucky because what I do today is what I was dreamed about doing when I was in high school. Early in my life, my parents bought a powerboat. Vacationing on that boat with my parents made me really enthusiastic about the world of boating.
I became passionate about the boat as a product and even in high school was amazed by the beautiful Beneteau boats in the local harbors. I asked around about how I could eventually get a job with Beneteau building boats. I focused my studies and internships on eventually obtaining a job with Beneteau.
What is your roll with Beneteau?
I wear two hats at Beneteau: I am both a product manager and an engineering manager. As a Beneteau product manager, I am responsible for the entire Swift Trawler range. This means that I am in charge of specifying which boats we want to design and build to fit our customers’ needs. As an example, we ask questions such as: Do we want to build a three cabin model? How many shower stalls? What should we target for our cruising speed? What is the retail price point that we want to meet? What should be the criteria in terms of beam, length, weight, etc.). Once we write the design brief, we begin working with the naval architect and designer to make the project doable. This is an exciting process, when the dream takes real form and funciton. For the Swift 30 project working with Andreani Design and MICAD was really fun.
As an engineering manager, I am in charge of managing the trawler range development teams as they give birth to each product. From the rough sketches through 3D modeling, the development team is engineering a boat that complies with regulations, with our own industrial processes, and also with our weights and cost goals.
The combination of these two hats shows the dedication that Beneteau has, to carry customers’ needs through the entire development process.
What is your favorite part of your job with Beneteau?
That’s not an easy question, since I love all aspects of my job. If I were to choose, Swift Trawler rendezvous or boatshows are my favorite, as each allows me the opportunity to meet with customers and potential customers which is where I gain the motivation for my work.
What was the motivation behind the development of the Swift Trawler 30?
The Swift Trawler range has a loyal customer base, often upgrading from the 34 to the 44 and on to the 50. A number of our traditional customers come from the sailing world but we noticed we also had an increasing customer base amongst first-time boat owners who wanted to get into cruising. The Swift Trawler 30 was designed to provide a new, entry level trawler into the existing range that was economical yet still providing the dream of cruising.
What were the challenges in designing and building this boat?
There were many challenges in designing this boat as our goal was to offer a true trawler, with all the features that Beneteau Swift Trawler should have, including a flybridge, but in a reduced size. Innovation and creativity in design and engineering was the key to the development of the Swift Trawler 30. The entirely glassed in wheelhouse and saloon made it challenging to add a flybridge, but this was managed with the inclusion of lightweight aluminum pillars. To make the boat feel larger and more loveable, we coupled the swim platform with an openable transom all on the same level as the cabin. Our naval architect,A.Migali, told me once, “This is the most difficult project I had to work on,” but the Swift Trawler 30 easily keeps up with her bigger sisters in terms of seaworthiness and comfort.
The Swift Trawler 30 seems packed with design features, what is your favorite?
I really like the opening transom; it connects the cabin all the way to the back of the swim step. We have been quite proud to see how this has opened access to boating to those for whom boating has not always been easy. Even at boats shows, I often see people with physical disabilities easily able to navigate on and off this boat. The other remarkable feature is the separate shower, which is quite special on such a small boat, and it really makes customers feel at home while onboard.