Launched in 2013, the Oceanis 38 is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning sailboat built in the United States. Marion, South Carolina to be exact.
Designed for single-handling, couples and family sailing enthusiasts, this Bénéteau 38-footer boasts a choice of three layouts. Element additions and subtractions may be made to accommodate day, weekend and cruising sailors. Thus the motto, “Your Boat. Your Rules.”
One major, “Oh, wow!” factor is the interior, loft-inspired vee-berth with a removable partition where it adjoins the main salon. Gone is the stationary bulkhead with its closed-in feeling. Touting, “almost everything becomes an option,” the Oceanis 38 offers choices for the number of open or closed cabins, a separate shower cabin, a fitted galley and helmsman seats.
Considered a “highly innovative evolving concept,” the Oceanis 38 was awarded the European 2014 Yacht of the Year in the Family Cruiser category at the Cannes Boat Show last September, according to Maryline O’Shea, Bénéteau America Marketing Director. The National Marine Manufacturers Association bestowed the 2014 Innovation award in the sailboat category upon Oceanis 38 at the Miami Boat Show in February.
Bénéteau, the largest sailboat builder in the U.S. for craft 30 feet and up, nearly doubled the size of the Marion plant when it reconfigured production procedures several years ago. When the plant opened in 1986, each boat model was built from start to finish on one assembly line. Employees moved from line to line and boat to boat. Today, Bénéteau AMERICA builds six Oceanis models from 31 to 45 feet in length in what is “considered to be an advanced marine factory.” The wood and mold units for each boat begin simultaneously in different sections of the plant. Gaining components at the assembly stations, they come together at the end of the line. Precision is key.
As he showed off the plant, Ward Richardson, Customer Service Supervisor, explained every station is allotted the same amount of time to complete their work for each boat, regardless of the model. Period. No exceptions. When the button is pushed and the boats are repositioned to the next assembly station, all tasks must be finished. There might be one or two people at a location where the workload is light, but when it comes to installing plumbing and electrical systems for instance, there is a buzz of activity to meet the timing deadline. Precision in teamwork.
“We use an open-mold process on the hull with each piece soaked in resin then put in place by hand,” said Richardson. “The deck closed-mold system regulates resin amounts, making the Oceanis models lighter and faster.” Precision ensures every model is exactly the same, every time.
“New models come with big technology changes,” said Richardson. “We change models every three to six years; it’s what keeps us going.”
Custom to all Bénéteau boats are the colors, which are owned by the company. With an in-house wood shop, Bénéteau no longer orders kits from France, but now cuts and assembles interior finishes and cabinets on site. Specific to the Oceanis 38 is a plastic toe rail which has the look and feel of real teak.
“We’re very excited about Bénéteau’s joint collaboration with the ASA, American Sailing Association, on the design of a new, exclusive training vessel,” said O’Shea. The First 22 ASA will be built at our Marion plant and is scheduled to debut this fall.
Celebrating 130 years, the pioneering spirit of Benjamin Bénéteau remains the driving force of the company’s innovation and passion for yachting, from the first sardine boat to the latest designs and technologies.
1884 Benjamin Bénéteau, a shipbuilder, founded the Bénéteau boatyard on the quays in Croix de Vie (Vendée), France, to build sailing trawlers for fishermen.
1910 Bénéteau launched the first engine-powered boat, christened the “vainqueur des jaloux” or conqueror of the jealous. Locals accused the “oil boat” of scaring the fish away.
1928 Son, André Bénéteau, took over the management of the company at 21 years of age.
1964 Third generation family and grandchildren of Benjamin Bénéteau, Annette Bénéteau Roux and her brother André diversified Bénéteau to include recreational boats and introduced fiberglass in boat building.
1986 Production facility opened in Marion, S.C.
1990 Boat #1000 launched at the Marion, S.C. facility.
1994 Bénéteau launched the O’Hara mobile home, setting the standard in the open-air accommodation industry.
2009 First Bénéteau Home plant was built in France for economically accessible, high-quality wooden frame houses. The plant had an annual production capacity of 600 units.
2012 Madame Roux, still active in the company’s leadership, was presented the Lifetime Achievement award by Active Interest Media (AIM) Marine Group.