In 2018, Locaboat is extending its fleet by introducing a new boat, the Pénichette® Évolution . It’s going to be a real gem in terms of comfort and technology, perfectly designed to turn your holiday into a dream afloat. Lots of living space, easy handling, electrically powered and environmentally-friendly: these are its best assets according to Ophélie Barrière, Deputy Managing Director and Florence Menguy, Operations Manager at Locaboat.
So what are the most important innovations in the Pénichette Evolution®?
Florence: We wanted to create a Pénichette® that’s light and roomy. We wanted a small rear terrace deck where four people can sit down to eat, a flying bridge on top, with a helm position and an area at the bow where you can be by yourself or sit and read, etc.
Ophélie: It has several outstanding features. The most important is ease of handling and manoeuvring. Everything’s designed to make things easy for the skipper. Thanks to the joystick, even novice sailors will be able to carry out difficult manoeuvres in port or get through a lock using just two fingers. We tried to make life on board easy for the crew and banish the fear that some customers have about steering for the first time.
Florence: Of course, we’ve still kept the engine lever, but thanks to the bow and stern thrusters, this joystick means you can steer the Pénichette® with just two fingers. It’s really helpful for manoeuvring, especially for beginners.
Ophélie: Also, we wanted the on-board experience and the interior layout to be as pleasant as possible. It’s a boat, not a house, but the liveability and level of comfort are exceptional. The quality of the materials and the overall feel of the boat are very modern and of top quality. We wanted people to feel good because it’s cosy, bright and really attractive.
Did you dream up new living areas?
Ophélie: Yes, that’s another strong point. We put a lot of thought into the design of the day and night-time accommodation. Until now, in our smaller craft, the cabin has taken up almost half the space, even though it’s only used for sleeping. We thought about ways of designing the boat to be modular and adapt to different times of day. So we created a space that’s completely flexible. During the day people have all the advantages of a nice living space, with two large, bright sitting areas. In the evening, movable bulkheads mean you can transform these into two private spaces that form the cabins. So there’s no wasted space, which is important on a small boat. All the customer has to do is put away their bed in the morning, but it’s a very simple process.
And what about the technical side?
Florence: We’ve tried to give customers an electricity supply with the minimum of hassle. So we’ve gone for a hybrid system. The Pénichette Evolution® is fitted with a generator that feeds an electric motor. This motor powers the boat and provides on-board electricity. As we’re using the most up-to-date generator available, it creates very little pollution. The boat has a large capacity for storing drinking water, and waste water is not discharged into the waterway. All lights have LED bulbs, and the toilets are separate from the showers. This is a much more eco-friendly Pénichette®…
Ophélie: And it’s very quiet.
In what sense is it a Pénichette®?
Ophélie: The Pénichette® is the essence of Locaboat. It’s a very specific type of boat, and Locaboat has the largest fleet of its kind in Europe. This registered trademark covers over a dozen models. They are all different but very recognisable. For this new model, we wanted to retain the Pénichette® DNA while coming up with a new design concept. The Pénichette® has its own particular lines: it’s elegant, has a stylish overall appearance and is perfectly suited to inland waterways with its rounded contours and large bumpers on the hull. Because we’re using steel, we couldn’t retain the ‘plump’ appearance of the craft, but we raised the prow and kept the quite characteristic shape of the windows. It reminds me of the VW Golf. Today’s Golf isn’t the same as it was 30 years ago, but it’s still recognisable and so is the Pénichette Evolution®. Obviously it takes time to get used to it, but in 10 years it will certainly be a benchmark design.
So why did you call it the “Evolution”?
Ophélie: Because it’s a new stage in the life of the Pénichette®. “Evolution”, because it has evolved and because the interior has been completely rethought by introducing modular design - and the term “modular” implies that the boat is capable of evolving. We wanted to show that we’d done something different while respecting the traditional roots of our Pénichette®.
Has there been a ceremonial launch of the Pénichette Evolution®?
Florence: Not yet. For the moment, we’ve been working on the prototype. There’s always an official launch. This will certainly take place for the forthcoming season.