When I first spotted an Ovni on the water in the 1970s, I thought it was an apparition. Enquiries soon revealed that these boats are called “objet volant non identifié”, which translates as unidentified flying object. It was also the very first time I saw a sugar scoop with a targa bar/radar arch over the top. This French design was indeed unique and avant?garde for the time. However, they are still being produced and are as popular as ever.

The Ovni design is a true no?nonsense blue?water cruiser, equally at home offshore and in shallow waters or on the beach. The centreboard can reduce the draft to only centimetres, and equipped with both a protective propeller skeg and flat grounding plate the boats are ideal for exploring shallow waters with the option of drying out on the beach.

I'm excited that my company Farine Boat Sales has been appointment as the sole Australian/New Zealand distributor for the remarkable Alubat range of quality production aluminium yachts. I was impressed by this shipyard after visiting Chantier Alubat in Château-d'Olonne, on France's West Coast and meeting owner-CEO Philippe Aupinel.

Alubat is regarded as a world leader in aluminium boat production and have a solid track record with their models since launching the first Ovni 25 in 1974. Most in the range are fitted with lifting keels. Well?known author and world sailor Jimmy Cornell visited Antarctica during a circumnavigation on his Ovni 43. His books and website are full of interesting facts about this boat.

The philosophy of the company is to consult buyers and create a boat suitable for their needs. The shipyard is designed to have all boats finished by in?house trades people, so modifications to the interior are easily accommodated and welcome. The emphasis is on having the boat launched complete and ready for cruising.

Alubat has been able to put big names to their specifications, with designers such as Philippe Briand and Marc Lombard, and has a well-tuned team of specialists that can easily converse in English.

The hulls are strong, built out of 5083?H111 aluminium and welded in an argon-helium atmosphere for the purity of the welds. While aluminium has a good weight-strength ratio, the builder still uses an 8mm bottom plate and 4mm for the sides. The encapsulated lead ballast has a high ratio to the total weight and together with wide beam and the stability of the chines, gives the boats remarkable stiffness and thus good performance.

The generous decks are well laid-out with running rigging to cockpit, stanchions that plug into deck sockets and stoutly welded cleats. There are plenty of flat spaces for lounging and relaxing at anchor. The cockpit also reflects the French designer's flair for ergonomics and boasts clever features such as teak slats and pull-up teak tables.

The retractable centreboards and rudders are hydraulically operated from controls in the cockpit, the installation manufactured by a renowned French engineering company that specialises in underwater hydraulics. The normally problematic centreboard cases have been cleverly integrated into the design, either accommodating part of the settee or the saloon table. The layouts can vary and the in?house design team is flexible and open to special requests. The joinery is always finely crafted with quality materials and in a pleasing style.

Philippe Aupinel tells me that the most popular model sold today is the 395 with well over 100 sold. For the buyer wanting larger models, the 445 and 495 will give plenty to think about in terms of space and cabin layout. Alubat also makes a smaller model, the Ovni 365.

The exciting Cigale yachts are legendary among lovers of beautiful designs and are perfectly suited for fast blue?water cruising in total comfort. The range has a 14, 16, 18 and 22m models. The round bilge aluminium hulls are fast, long, light and have water-ballasted bulb keels.

Alubat, innovative and up-to-date with technical developments, collaborated with designer Marc Lombard to capitalise on recent advances in naval architecture to give birth to the Cigale 16, a very elegant and comfortable cruiser-racer. The concept is totally new — flush hatches, halyards running under the deck, plexiglass window bands recessed and everything rounded — and every effort has been made to give these boats exceptional lines. It's a demonstration that aluminium construction can be elegant. The efficient, simple deck layout and large, deep cockpit allow for safe shorthanded sailing.

For the buyer with big size in mind, Philippe Aupinel with the help of Philippe Briand has just finished the production of the new Alubat 58. This boat deviates from the traditional Ovni aft cockpit sloop design having revived the ever-popular centre cockpit and ketch rig concept. However, it is not old fashioned by any means, boasting twin rudders and either lifting or fin keels.

This brand-new design has created a lot of interest partly due to the amount of excellent equipment supplied as standard. Some of the gear includes a 160hp Yanmar diesel, generator, bowthruster, electric winches and furlers, full navigation gear, washer?dryer and dishwasher. With a price tag of €879,000 (ex?tax, ex?factory) this yacht competes remarkably well with many GRP production boats of similar size. The quality and finish are superb.

The Alubat 58, Ovni, and Cigale boats are advanced and modern yachts. They are remarkably well built with safety in mind and quality interiors that will hold-up well to constant use. The lines are elegant and the finish is made to last. The boats are robust and can handle most environments.

Each boat will be unique because they are the fruit of a long exchange between buyer and the men and women working at Alubat. Individual experiences will come together to give the boat its own character.

Whichever model the buyer is interested in, the concept of having full input for the interior layout and finish should be a big plus. Imagine being able to either go to the shipyard and personally meet the people that will be building your boat or communicating through Farine Boat Sales about the way you visualise your new boat. This service is available to you now in Australia.

Anita says her solid reputation for customer satisfaction after many years of trading has been the main reason for the appointment as an Alubat dealer.

For more information, phone Anita Farine on 0423 974 474 or visit www.alubat.com


1). The Alubat 58 is the latest Philippe Briand design, a centre cockpit with either lifting or fin keel.

2). Inside the Ovni 395.

3). Alubat 58 saloon and galley.

4). Galley onboard the Cigale 16.

5). Cigale 16.

6). Rectractable centre boards and rudders mean yachts like the Ovni 395 are able to be beached.

From Trade-a-Boat Issue 421, Nov-Dec, 2011.