Lobbyists for the expansion of the International Yacht Club Antibes (IYCA) in Port Vauban are having to start their two year campaign afresh this September, after it emerged they were focusing efforts on the wrong authorities.

Muriel Penoty, treasurer at ASAP Antibes said they are now planning an event before the Cannes Boat Show to meet with city authorities, who they discovered hold the ultimate power on what can actually be constructed at the French port:

“We found the port is not commissioned to take care of any enlargement as far as this project goes, and are only entitled to maintain the port and renovation. They don’t have the power; the town has the power because it owns the port and gave it to that company to handle and maintain it.”

The plans to create 25 new berths at one of France’s oldest private marinas by building a 600m extension on the outer quay is one of the few instances in the South of France of a marina constructing new berths.

An extension at Port Vauban would more than double its current 19 berth capacity

As such, it is eagerly awaited by the industry as a means of easing the congestion along the French coast – particularly as there would be provision for very large yachts (15 berths for yachts up to 90m). Congestion is reflected in the last study conducted by the French federation of Marinas (ffPP) (March 2011) which revealed 41,775 applicants on the waiting list for just 301 ports. A more recent study in The Superyacht Report revealed roughly 57 per cent of all yachts cruise in the western Med in the summer (an average figure for the last three years, yet the fleet is growing each year) and soon there will not be enough berths to accommodate them.
Penoty was pragmatic,however, and positive about the continued battle. As is typical in politics, ASAP will also have to recommence its offensive to win over a new Mayor, who will be elected next year, and the recently elected port director:

“The director of the port is not the same person who presented the project. He was obliged to resign and so a new one was nominated in March. We met last month and he said 'whilst I think the port is a good idea right now, it’s not one of my priorities'.”

At the September meeting ASAP Antibes will be doing the job of communicating the project to the port and a group of local townspeople divided in opinion:

“We are bringing together the people of Antibes and the people of the port because a lot of them, especially the French ones, see the enlargement of the IYCA and the bigger berths for rich people and English-speaking people. They don’t see much advantage. We want them to understand it’s a business opportunity for them as well as for us; just by meeting together we’ll be able to open their minds.”

Barcelona's Marina Port Vell will have 40 new berths for yachts up to 140m by 2014

The project has greater urgency now, she says, because of the several new marinas in the western Med enhancing capacity, particularly in Spain with expansion and refurbishment projects including Marina Port Vell in Barcelona and Moll Vell in Palma. Both will be ready for next summer, but France lags behind.

“There are so many ports in the Med that are getting better infrastructure and welcoming more and bigger yachts. We are starting to get worried.”

“[But] I believe things are going to turn around in September,” she added.

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