I was very excited to finally get a chance to visit the Seascape yard in Slovenia and grabbed the opportunity as our company was sending a colleague down to the Balkan country to get a brend new Beneteau First 24 ready for delivery to her new owner. From Germany that´s a 1.300 kilometres drive through all of my country and Austria. Just right after the border to Slovenia, passing through the famous Karawanken tunnel in a small town called Jesenice, we turned right and were instantly greeted by the guys of Seascape.
I was welcome to visit the Seascape yard and shown around by the guys who presented their shed with pride: Seascape was founded by a small group around Andraz Mihelin just 10 years ago after completion of Mini Transat races – the idea was to bring Open-style racing boats to ordinary sailors. That´s what a Seascape boat is all about: Easy to handy, high profiled in sailing power and performance. Four models are available as of now. The success of the fast growing Seascape owner´s family and fan base was so attractive that the world´s largest brand for pleasure sailing craft, Beneteau, bought the majority of the company earlier this year. A new chapter in Seascape was turned open.
Three Workshops and a Tendency to grow
For now, the company is producing four models ranging from 14 over 18, 24 and 27 feet. The smalles, the First 14, is a quick, easy to handel, no-frills sailing dinghy that can either be sailed with mainsail only (perfect for learning to sail and little skippers) to fully rigged racing mode. The First 14 by the way includes a self-tacking jib, which is a fact I found particularly noteworthy. The hull weighs barely 60 kilograms so the boat can be strapped to a car´s roof and transported with ease.
The First 14 and First 24 are produced and finished in the Jesenice plant. There are two further locations, one is located more in the mountains of Slovenia where the First 18 is made and the headquarter of the company in the capital of the small country, Ljubljana. The workshop in Jesenice is responsible for the First 14 finishing touches and the First 24 delivery.
I was talking to Tomo Novak, one of the “old salts” of Seascape, who told me that the company was very excited to being offered to joining the Beneteau-family. As the French giant “just” owns a majority of the company, Seascape is granted the freedom to further go on their chosen path: Making the boats they want to make. Currently the new First 35, the first jointly developed sailboat of the newly revived First-family, is in the course of production with preliminary boat design being in a mock-up phase of the project. We are all excited to see these new boats arriving!
For now the dealer-network of Seascape has been merged with Beneteau´s strong sales force. The success is speaking for itself: According to the yard there have been sold some 100 units in 2017 with 150 units sold so far in 2018. The company is planning to react to the increased demand to those easy and fast racers in 2019 with a further 30 per cent growth – for this and the new upcoming First 35 entering production hopefully very soon, the Slovenians are currently expanding their production facilities which will finally maybe bring an end to the nice, cosy workshed-atmosphere of Jesenice that I was happy to experience during my visit. Exciting times ahead for sure!
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