France debuts another sail cargo ship design

Splash readers get a glimpse today of a new French sail cargo ship, contracted last week during the One Ocean Summit, and due for delivery next year.

The Grain de Sail adventure was founded in 2010 in Brittany by twin brothers Olivier et Jacques Barreau who are experts in renewable energy. Their aim was to select, produce and sell gastronomic products to transatlantic consumers using the world’s first modern cargo sailboat. Since November 2020, Grain de Sail has operated its first cargo sailboat; it has now signed for something far bigger.

The new ship, to be built by France’s Piriou at its yard in Vietnam, will be 52 m long, 500 gt with a payload capacity of more than 350 tons. The overall budget for the newbuild remains confidential but will remain below the EUR10m ($11.4m) mark, the company said. The new ship will dwarf the company’s first vessel, a schooner-type ship which is 24 m long with a 50-ton payload capacity. The first ship used for transatlantic routes since 2020 will be repurposed for coastal shipments within Europe once the new vessel is operation.

Grain de Sail successfully transported by sail around 55% of the cacao mass used in its chocolate factory during 2021 thanks to its first cargo sailboat. This next ship will enable 100% of its raw ingredients to cross the Atlantic carbon-free for use in its chocolate factory and coffee roasting facility located in Morlaix, France.

Grain de Sail 2, to be registered under French flag, will make transatlantic routes from St Malo exporting wines and other fine products from France and Europe to the United States and bring back raw ingredients from Latin America to France. It will be built with aluminium, capable of carrying up to 238 pallets loaded on two levels in two separate holds. In addition, a separate tank will be able to receive up to 18 cu m of bulk liquid while on deck there will be another 5 cu m for liquids in barrels.

Crossing of the Atlantic, depending on routing choices and wind conditions, is estimated at around two weeks thus permitting three to four round trips per year.

France has been providing global shipping with many leading wind-assisted projects in recent years with a host of shippers such as tyre manufacturer Michelin, automaker Renault and cognac maker Hennessy committing to move a portion of their products on new sail cargo ships under construction.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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