Luxury Handbag Maker Signs On for Sail-Powered Shipping

Courtesy Neoline / Mauric

Published Jul 12, 2021 7:05 PM by The Maritime Executive

French luxury handbag brand Longchamp has agreed to entrust 50 percent of its America-bound cargo to Neoline, the French sail-freighter startup. 

Using the line's planned Montoir de Bretagne to Baltimore service, Longchamp plans to transport half its annual volume of containers on the transatlantic route by sail power, beginning with the service's initial launch in 2024. When a second vessel comes into service and Neoline can offer bimonthly sailings, Longchamp will examine the possibility of expanding its commitment. 

Neoline's sail freighter will operate at 11 knots on a North Atlantic passage connecting Saint Nazaire, St-Pierre and Miquelon, Halifax and Baltimore. The company says that it expects to emit 90 percent less carbon per voyage than a comparably-sized conventional merchant ship. 

"This project is close to my heart because my father, who developed Longchamp for more than half a century, made numerous transatlantic voyages in the 1950s which contributed to his passion for the sea," said Jean Cassegrain, the CEO of Longchamp. "For our collections we are increasingly using fabrics woven from recycled plastic waste. By giving a second life to this waste, for example plastic bottles or fishing nets, we contribute to preventing them from polluting the oceans and reducing our consumption of non-renewable resources. Taking advantage of a cleaner mode of transportation, such as the one offered by Neoline, allows us to go even further in this approach."

Neoline aims to create a uniquely French solution to the emissions challenge, and it envisions its vessel as "an ambassador of the best French know-how," according to Jean Zanuttini, the president of Neoline. The company has lined up multiple French shippers for its launch, including Hennessy, Renault, Manitou, Michelin, Clarins and Benetau. It has financial backing from the regional government of Pays de la Loire, where the first vessel will be built.

The company's first design is a 450-foot hull with a ro/ro capacity of about 280 TEU or 500 cars. It will rely on a 45,000 square foot sail plan informed by recent developments in ocean racing, and it will take advantage of the latest in weather routing technology to maximize the ship's "energy sobriety," according to Neoline.