It starts ... With a plane crash.
We are around 1996 and I am a little over 20 years old. Like many, I didn't have very nice toys when I was young. Like many, my first wages allow me to give myself a gift that I have dreamed of for a long time: a radio-controlled plane. At the time, there was no internet: had to buy a box and build it, even if you have 2 left hands. Somehow, I assemble a kind of model for months and the model crashes on its 1st flight in the parking lot of the northern stadium in Villeneuve d'Ascq. Disappointment, what to do with all this wood? and this radio control? At the time I had another dream: to travel by sailboat. Hence the idea: build a radio-controlled sailboat with the wood chippings and learn to sail that way. Here we go: the small apartment becomes a building site. I don't care about it everywhere. I collect old magazines "sails & sailboats" and I am inspired by shapes to imagine a hull. Classic sailboats seem more beautiful to me: I'm going on it. The 1er Youpi is entirely in balsa, since the falls from the plane were in this easy-to-work wood. In February 97, the boat was ready but it still has no name. The carpet in the apartment is ravaged by glue. Madame finds sawdust everywhere and I get up at night to contemplate my "work". Finally, I go to the Spanish lake in Villeneuve d'Ascq for the 1st test but the lake is frozen. I fall back on a sewer overflow (sic!) Not far from the university of letters of Villeneuve. This is where I put the sailboat, very curious what it will look like. I know it won't sink right away after my tub tests, but from there to say it will move forward. It should be noted that everything was done without a plan, looking at photos and trying to understand how a sailboat works.
The origin of the name.
Hardly put on the water, the boat leaves straight. I have no idea of a sail, but to my surprise, the rudder responds. So I shout "Yeh" (Youpi in French), because I'm glad I got there. And because the fact that the boat is sailing is simply a huge surprise. “Yeh”: that's what came to my mind. It becomes the name of this first boat. Back home, I'm happy but there is work to be done: the boat has been tinkered with everything I have been able to pick up from the ground. Small wire, skewer chopsticks, cheese packaging ... Suffice to say that the maintenance of the boat is important and my means do not allow me to afford equipment from specialized stores. It becomes a passion, even an obsession. Every night on the way home from work, I rush in, improve, modify, try, go sailing and go home when the batteries are dead to repair the damage. I have wonderful memories of that time. During the day, I secretly wrote the logbook, imagining the weather on my lake. It must be said that my real job is copywriter. I love to write, so I blacken pages to live my dream and navigate, from my desk, on my little boat. While waiting for the evening to find him and have fun with him.
From small to large sailboat.
Months and years go by. I devote them to testing. The Youpi receives a schooner rig, then a Bermudan rig ... I redecorate the deck, I add and I remove the bowsprit ... In short, I test and I try. Polyester sails then fabric. Everything goes there. I am not a good handyman but I am stubborn. Ultimately. My plan to travel in a "real" sailboat takes shape and here I am on a sabbatical aboard a Jeanneau Melody in the Atlantic. There I am improving my nautical knowledge a little :-) On my return, I find my old Youpi to whom I share my new knowledge. The boat is still improving year after year. Finally, if I loved the sailing trip, I find the navigation in a small sailboat a superior pleasure. Joy of seeing the boat evolve, no danger of drowning, low budget and genuine pleasure.
How did it become a mainstream model?
The story could have ended there. A small sailboat that we love to tinker with. A nice job. A family that is created. At the time I met Pierre, a moulder. I obviously tell him about Youpi and he tells me that he could make a cast of it. However, the hull constructed from 2mm balsa has been sanded for years. Suffice to say that she is really starting to get worrying. Infiltration, rotting ... The original Youpi, not very well built with the means at hand, suffered from its very numerous navigations (about 2 hours / day for several years). As Pierre is a bit in a hassle of money, I suggest he mold the hull, telling myself that I would finally have a "solid" Youpi to do my tests. The shell that it molds is sublime: it is even ... Symmetrical! Which is not exactly the case with the 1st model. Here I am with a polyester shell and a mold. There, life takes a nasty blow: my son falls very ill (don't worry, he survived!). Here I am in grief, stuck at home. The only way to escape, to think of something else, is to tinker with this polyester shell. As Pierre made several, I decided to offer them to model makers against a donation to an association for sick children. Because in fact I asked for several shells just to give Pierre a hand and they are stacked at home.
Besides that, I continue to write. And to gradually throw my stories of miniature navigation. A friend who is aware of this little secret (I hide it for fear of ridicule) then suggests that I write them on a blog, to keep photos, memories. The Internet was born and there is a way to keep it all. I start, I take pictures, I tell stories, I talk about Youpi. And people ask me for cockles. Info. I even see some who resell them with a large margin which pains me a lot. Since that's how it is, I'll sell them too ... That's where I meet Francois Mallart. A model maker from the region conquered by the Youpi. He asks me for a shell, then 2, for 3 ... And this good handyman poet becomes a friend with whom we imagine a suitable way to build the Youpi. Finally, we design together what will become the Youpi kit. We build 5, 6 ... We try, I order supplies. And at the 7th Youpi we can say that the kit is viable. I offer one on the internet ... It is a Portuguese model maker who acquires it. Then a Swiss. some french .. To my surprise.
The beginning of "success".
We are therefore there around 2007/2008: the youpi is a kit sold at the time for 270 euros. The ready to sail costs around 500 bucks. It's not about making money with it, it's cost price, and the build quality is far from that of today's models. The kits are made with the means at hand, without much technique, but it does the job. The blog is enriched with articles, stories, photos. And that's where Serge Ducruit calls me. He discovered the blog, and would like to tell me about my boats. Serge is the editor-in-chief of the journal MRB. It's been years that I dream of having a picture of Youpi in this magazine, but I never dared to send one, being of a shy nature. And then I find my boat so ugly compared to the others. Finally you get the idea. I think Serge wants to talk to me about the model, but not really: he finds especially that I write well (it's my job!). He suggests that I become a freelance writer for the magazine. I am still entangled in this story of a sick child, it is limit the misery, I have not much to lose. In short, I say yes of course. And for the first article, just to please me, I illustrate a tutorial with the photo of a Youpi. Like that, at least once, it will be in the magazine. Serge is aware that I tinker with my kits, that I do it more out of passion than anything else. He loves classic sailboats. So he made me a brilliant proposition: write an article ... Sur le Youpi! In the magazine MRB. Success is there. On model making forums, we often laughed at this project. "It will never work." "You are going to break your teeth". "You'll be fed up at the end of the 10th". "It's not even a real model". Etc. You say I didn't care, it was just my beautiful toy and a way of dreaming a little. From the moment the Youpi had the honors of the press, it was gone: people had confidence. And I started to get a few more orders. Before the article, 15 Yupis had been produced. It went to 30. Then 50. Then 70 ... Sailing & sailboats talked about it, then the Chasse-Marée ... The kit got better little by little, I bought some useful tools. On the internet, by dint of talking about it, several model makers knew that it existed and several had ordered it. Anyway ... It was living well. Good news my son was doing better. I had to get back to my real job because it was always a hassle. Suddenly, it almost stopped there. I had built 80 youpis in kit form or ready to sail, the "real" work called me ... And this is where there was another stroke of luck.
Marc arrives in the adventure.
Marc, a friend, decides one day to quit his job. Because he's sick of it, but then really! So here he is unoccupied and I no longer have time to take care of the Youpis. Only here: I would like it to live! It's so much happiness ... So on a suggestion from a mutual friend, I offer Marc something funny: he takes care of the site, if he is interested, agreeing that if life returns hard I will always be able to recover this little extra activity. Marc finds the idea funny. The great luck is that he is a fitter by trade. He works well. Precise. Clean. While he did not know anything at the base, he began to rationalize the production of kits. The cutouts are beautiful. More precise adjustments. Me, it relieves me a lot not to have to build these boats anymore. I'm just busy tinkering with the website you're reading. We are in 2009. Obviously, the Youpi brings in so little money that it is out of the question to touch anything. Those who find that a Youpi is expensive ... have never built one! We have passed the 100 mark. The Youpi N ° 100 is sold for the benefit of the association "les petits princes", because it is in the site's DNA as they say today. Then we arrive at number 200. At number 300 ... And today, more than 10 years have passed and more than 400 Yupis are sailing. Marc has set up a magnificent workshop in his garage, which smells of wood and happiness. Some Youpistes pick up their boat there (if your heart tells you it's in Argenteuil near Paris).
Today the Youpi remains a "pleasure" activity. Marc did not see it, me even less. But we're having fun. And we have the impression of giving pleasure, of making dreams come true, of participating in a nice adventure. To build a beautiful toy with beautiful materials, and respect for the people who buy them. Some arrive for repair, there are Youpis all over the world and the singer Renaud is even the godfather of the series and sails with his personal copy (I was a younger fan so it's nice). Our project ? Continue, because exchanges, meetings and the joy of sharing this adventure are ultimately little treasures on a daily basis. There you go, I'll spare you the imitations, the vagaries, the other beautiful stories ... You know almost everything about the history of Youpi :-) To keep it alive ... Do not hesitate to contact us !