Bagabonda is a 46-foot Santorin. It’s one of the ships built by Les chantiers Amel. The story behind this ship’s builder and its founder is impressive. His philosophy on the blue water sailboat has been inspiring for many other builders.
I feel honored to skipper one of these vessels, and I’m happy to share what I found about Henri and his shipbuilding:
Henri Amel was a French entrepreneur and naval architect who founded the yacht-building company Amel in 1968. He was known for his innovative designs, attention to detail, and dedication to the self-sufficiency and durability principles that remain at the heart of the Amel brand today.
Early Years and Career
Henri Amel was born in 1913 in La Rochelle, a city on France’s Atlantic coast. He grew up with a love of the sea and a fascination with boats because his father was a shipwright. He studied engineering at the École Centrale in Paris, where he honed his technical skills and developed an interest in design.
Following graduation, Henri worked as an engineer for the French Navy, designing and building military boats. He later worked as a technical advisor for the French government, overseeing the construction of large-scale infrastructure projects such as dams and bridges.
The Resistance and World War II
Henri Amel was conscripted into the French Army and sent to fight in North Africa during World War II. The Germans took him as a prisoner of war after the fall of France. While imprisoned, he joined the resistance movement. He used his technical knowledge to smuggle information and supplies to French prisoners and resistance fighters.
Henri was well-known for his technical abilities and ability to repair radios and other pieces of equipment, making him a valuable asset to the resistance. He also used his engineering and design knowledge to assist in the planning and execution of sabotage missions, such as destroying a German military vehicle factory.
Amel returned to France after the war and was awarded the Croix de Guerre for his resistance service. He established a workshop in La Rochelle and began designing and building sailboats.
The Beginnings of Amel Yachts
Henri built his first sailboat, a 22-foot sloop, in 1955. It was built for cruising and marked the start of his career as a yacht designer and builder. In 1963, he designed and built “Alain Gerbault,” a 43-foot ketch named after a famous French sailor who circumnavigated the globe in the 1920s.
Amel founded the company that would become Amel Yachts in 1968. The Amel Kirk, a 32-foot ketch designed for cruising, was his first production model. It was a success, and Amel expanded his product line, designing and building larger, more luxurious sailboats.
Amel’s Design Philosophy
Amel was well-known for his forward-thinking approach to sailboat design. He believed that a sailboat should be self-sufficient and durable, capable of withstanding the rigors of long-distance cruising as well as the unpredictability of the open sea.
To accomplish this, Amel incorporated several features that were unique at the time into his designs. One of his most famous inventions was the center cockpit design, which provides excellent visibility and weather protection. He also created a hard dodger that could be raised and lowered, allowing easy access to the cockpit and providing additional wind and spray protection.
They also pioneered hydraulic systems for sail handling, making it easier for a single sailor or small crew. He created a hydraulic furling system for the mainsail and headsail, as well as hydraulic winches and a hydraulic winch system.
Amel has produced a range of sailboats since its inception in 1968, and the company continues to be a leading manufacturer of luxury bluewater cruising sailboats. Here is a list of the different models of sailboats that Amel has produced over the years:
- Sharki (1975-1988)
- Maramu (1978-1990)
- Mango (1985-1992)
- Super Maramu (1989-2005)
- Santorin, like our Bagabonda (1990-2005)
- Super Maramu 2000 (2000-2012)
- Amel 54 (2006-2017)
- Amel 55 (2010-2016)
- Amel 64 (2010-2017)
- Amel 50 (2017-present)
Each of these models has its own unique features and specifications, but they are all designed for bluewater cruising. They are known for their high level of comfort, safety, and durability. Amel sailboats are also known for their innovative features, such as the center cockpit design, hard dodger, and furling system, making them easy to handle and maintain at sea.
When sailing our vessel, it’s cool to know the great story behind it.