by Des Ryan
Whatever happened to ETAP? Founded in 1970 by Belgian entrepreneur Norbert Joris, ETAP built boats that were universally praised as innovative and ahead of their time, foam in their construction making them unsinkable. However, in January 2009, the company that made the unsinkable boat itself sank.
ETAP, whatever happened- besides the alien invasion
It had had a dream run. The yachts featured a unique hull-within-a-hull design; the gap in between was filled with a nonporous polyurethane foam, making it practically impossible for the inner hull to fill with water.
The ETAP 46DS had been awarded 'European Yacht of the Year' and won IPC Media's award for the category 'Sailboat over 40 ft'. But ETAP wasn't covering its costs, and was purchased by Dehler Deutchland in 2008, which itself declared bankruptcy later that year, and in January 2009 ETAP was itself declared insolvent.
But that wasn't the end of the story, as the design of the ETAP was just too good to ignore. Belgian company MIC Industries, an engineering firm, purchased the ETAP name in March 2009 - almost three years ago - for an undisclosed sum, including all the original factory molds and design instructions.
So why hasn't the ETAP, so lauded for so long, been manufactured since? The website is still there, even a link to the old website, although they seemed to have been invaded by aliens recently, with the strange statement:
For everything concerning 'survive 2012', please refer to Patrick Geryl, who is the author and organiser. Etapyachting takes no responsability for any publications made by third parties and has no direct connection to publications about 'Survive 2012', but then followed by links to Geryl's sites.
When questioned recently by Bloomberg Business Week, Toni De Pape, manager at MIC Industries, sees nothing unusual about featuring all ETAP endorsements on its website, even if they happen to be from survivalists. He says it was not MIC’s intention to make Geryl the new unofficial spokesperson for ETAP, but concedes that 'whatever helps our brand is OK with us.'
According to British yacht broker David Morris at Tollesbury Marina in Essex, England, 'It's really quite sad what's become of the ETAP brand.'
It’s certainly a bizarre outcome for one of the most acclaimed and beloved yachting brands in recent history.
For all information about ETAP - including how to survive Armageddon in 2012 - go to their http://www.etapyachting.com/!website.