Dryade Créations: classic yachting has the wind in its sails
Don’t ask Dryade Créations why they are located in Franche-Comté.
Don’t ask Dryade Créations why they are located in Franche-Comté.
The company, which specialises in yacht pulleys and bronze fittings, is proud of its landlocked identity, with its feet firmly in the fields, Dryad, the nymph of woods and forests, on its mind, and its hands at the service of the sea. Their Franche-Comté origins do not stop all the members of this family business – Monique, with a degree in fine art, architecture and sculpture, Sylvain, a qualified cabinetmaker and a specialist in rigging, from fittings to pulleys, and Jean Lou, a qualified yachting instructor, in charge of special projects – from holding their own amongst the old sea dogs of the Mediterranean and elsewhere.
We asked Christian Terreaux, a qualified architect and managing director of Dryade Créations, to present his company, which works on those fine vessels that are classic yachts.
- Present your company to us in a few words – what is your speciality?
Our first undertaking (still in place) is an architectural and urban-planning research centre, which offers design and project-management services. A passion for classic yachts enabled us to extend that research to the architecture of rigging. Rigging is all the parts of a yacht above the bridge: the masts and spars, the sails, the cordage and the pulleys, obviously. The research means we can ensure that all work done on the yacht – that of the designers, carpenters, riggers and sailmakers – will be harmonious, through upstream planning.
Restoration work is carried out based on documents that give us an idea of the design of the original vessel. We are also constantly looking into new concepts and more modern developments, and we have a strong interest in the use of advanced technologies. This has enabled us not to be restricted to restoration, but also to work on contemporary yachts.
At the same time, we also design, plan and produce a wide variety of rigging parts, such as mast collars and the whole range of spar fittings (editor’s note: long pieces of timber for masts, booms and yards). We also design and make the inboard and outboard boom and peak ends, the horizontal spars on which the sails are set. We finish and position the spar and bridge fittings, together with a variety of custom parts. Our gin wheels and sheave blocks, which are parts of pulleys, fulfil all the required quality and resistance criteria for the sea and our boats. Dryade pulleys have been known and recognised for nearly fifteen years by classic yachting partners. Our company has become a reference thanks to the work we have undertaken on the rigging of some of the finest vessels in the world.
- So a single boat requires the involvement of a range of different trades?
Absolutely. We often work as a partnership of artisans. These combinations of skills brought together specially for a major restoration project mean we are able to ensure the necessary consistency in building the boat frame, in work on the hull, and in fitting out the bridge and the bronze parts that will be involved in manoeuvring the sails. We also work with riggers who make the standing rigging (cables and fittings that secure the mast or masts) and running rigging (pulleys, cordage and a range of other parts), i.e. all of the elements required for hoisting and adjusting the sails.
The yachts we work on are complex vessels. They are often custom built. Faulty or missing parts, or parts that have worn out with time, sometimes need to be replaced, and this sometimes means almost reinventing them, or at least trying to redesign them in the spirit of the original designs. That is why we are happy to be able to work with other boatyards and other artisans, specialised in activities other than ours. A project can only be planned and completed successfully where there is a direct relationship with the owner and close cooperation between the different technicians involved.
- Do you have to reconcile the aesthetic and the functional, to combine your knowledge of the sea and your skills as artisans?
I think the main thing is to remember that the boats we work on are sometimes over a century old and that the aesthetics of yesterday are not the same as those of today. What I will call the "Art of the Curve”, which has to do with the skill of the artisan and is very different from that of industrial mass production. In these unique yachts we are talking about, good taste went hand in hand with efficiency. It is up to us to rediscover that natural equilibrium. Where modern improvements can be made are in terms of functional and technical aspects, thanks to the materials, new technologies and micro-techniques that are available to us today. However, it is important to respect ideas of heritage and authenticity. In our line of work, these are questions we pose all the time to avoid appearing either rigid or iconoclastic!
- Have you ever had any unusual orders?
I think the renown of Dryade Créations has gone beyond the scale of the company. Many of our customers think we are a multinational when they see the range of prestigious yachts we have had the opportunity to work on. We worked for the Spanish Crown on the Hispania (1909). Aile VI is an international eight-metre (8mR) yacht which carried Virginie Hériot to victory at the 1928 Olympic Games. Philippe Monet, who broke the westward around-the-world sailing record in 2000, entrusted us with the fittings and pulleys for his Cœur Vaillant 1er, which he uses for more sensible, contemplative voyages. We have also worked on more unusual jobs like the Bella Lucia, which is an old working boat from 1881, a traditional schooner from the Canary Islands, for which we made the helm, more than 200 pulleys and a large number of fittings. The helm with compass binnacle for the Eleonora (a 42-metre schooner, replica of the 1910 Westward) required painstaking research and practical work. Certain historic vessels which sometimes need restoring and saving also involve a large amount of work.
Our last job was to restore the Mariska (15mR), which dates from 1908. This magnificent yacht was able to sail once again at the beginning of September 2009, after major restoration work carried out by the Charpentiers Réunis Méditerranée boatyard. The intention was to restore the vessel to its original form, so it could take part once again in classic yacht regattas. We were lucky enough to produce all of its bronze fittings and pulleys.
- Is the fact that you are a company that is well known in France seen as an advantage by your customers?
You need to know that the history of classic yachting has a very strong link with English, German and French sailing, but many other countries in Europe and America also designed and built some magnificent examples between 1850 and 1950. A large number of regattas are held in the Mediterranean for these yachts. French labels are as yet not very well known in the rest of the world; nevertheless, for us, the Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant label is a sign of quality and enables us to choose as partners companies who have been awarded it. The Charpentiers Réunis Méditerranée of La Ciotat have applied for this distinction. We also work with Chantier Naval Gilbert Pasqui, which works on wooden masts and spars. Gilbert, who is probably as much an artist as an artisan, is known by everyone in his field; his company has also been awarded the label. A handful of others in the yachting sphere also hold the label; among them are Chantier du Guip, Marc Vuilliomenet and Hubert Stagnol. All do outstanding work and share a passion for their trade.
The local ties which are one of the award criteria for the Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant label are an unquestionable asset of our company. The region of Franche-Comté and its micro-technical cluster assert their involvement in the development of the luxury market through the association Luxe & Tech. The region of the Arc Jurassien is a key centre for the entire timber industry (cabinetmaking, turnery, ornamental woodwork, etc.). The fact that we are located in Franche-Comté is, curious as it may seem, viewed in a highly positive light by our customers. Far from the sea, the money and the crowds of the French Riviera, we have founded our reputation on the region and on the excellence of our know-how.