The Karver Saga – Episode 1 : “2003-2005 : A double entry!”
The Karver 20th anniversary
To celebrate the 20 years of Karver, Tip & Shaft traces the history of this 100% French deck equipment company, from its creation, in 2003, to today, with its ups and downs, its successes and its failures, its teams, its racers, its products, its acquisitions, its key moments…
This first episode recounts the creation of the company and its first years, notably marked by a double success in the 2004-2005 Vendée Globe.
The story begins in the early 2000s. Marin Clausin works in the company created by his father, Profurl, which was at the time the leader in the headsail reefing furler market. “He sold the company to the Wichard group in 2002 and I was supposed to stay as head of the design office, says Marin. Ultimately, I was not satisfied with the route that Profurl was taking, namely almost leaving the racing sector which was precisely the one that interested me the most. So I resigned.”
A villain in James Bond
Drawing on his experience at Profurl, Marin, who is not yet 30 years old, decides tocreate his own business in 2003. With his younger brother Quentin, they are looking for a name for the new entity and are inspired bythe villain in the 18th installment of James Bond Tomorrow never dies, a man called “Carver”. “We were looking for a name with a strong, international sound. Carver sounded good. We put a “K” at the beginning of the word and the brand was born!” summarizes Marin Clausin.
The founder of Karver rents a small office in Versailles. He designed a first range of furlers to equip Imoca and Orma and imagine the block to be conveyed, which has become emblematic of the brand. “It was the very beginning of textile hook blocks, I was a little ahead on the competitior, underlines Marin.
I approached racers like Vincent Riou, Jean Le Cam, Dominique Wavre and Yves Parlier. They all signed straight away, seduced by my products that are half as heavy as those of other brands.”
The founder of Karver builds a small team around him. In particular, he hires a friend from his high school years, Tanguy de Lamotte. An architect by training, he then built his boat for the 2005 Mini Transat. “Marin presented me with the first drawings of the KB round block to be transferred, I was immediately impressed, remembers Tanguy. I was one of the first shareholders of Karver. I held a technical sales position. I went to the hulks to present the products, ship them, install them. I was testing the block prototypes on my Mini. We were complementary with Marin: he had a sense of the industrial feasibility of the parts, and I had a sense of the use of them on the boat.”
In charge of the financial aspect, François de Sivry is also part of the very first actors of the Karver adventure. “With Marin, we observed a disruption in the market, he said. The boats were beginning to progress a lot in terms of design but the deck equipment remained very functional. We were convinced that offering very designer products we would manage to stand out and find a place in the market. We also conducted significant work on the brand, with a powerful and modern graphic charter.”
The Vendée Globe 2004-2005, a first turning point
The business grew rapidly and the early office became too cramped. Karver first settled in a hangar about twenty kilometers from Versailles, before setting up in Honfleur.
For the 2004-2005 Vendée Globe,the company equips Vincent Riou (swivels) as well as Jean Le Cam and Dominique Wavre (furlers). “For three months I slept badly because if the products broke on this major trip, the company immediately leaked, remembers Marin. In the end, Riou won this edition of the Vendée Globe ahead of Le Cam!
In the process, orders come in like hot cakes. “Many racers have consulted me and adopted Karver products. In 2005, we were already able to offer a complete range of furlers and blocks on boats from 6 to 20 meters. Our products were light, compact, technical, while maintaining competitive prices.” During these first years of existence, we already found Karver’s trademark, namelya strong DNA around performance, innovation, design and service.
With a conviction, never questioned : what is good for racing is necessarily good for pleasure sailing whether the product remains accessible, both in terms of price and use.
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