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David Filippi: 2024, Olympic success and becoming the world’s most innovative boat-building brand

Let’s start by reflecting on 2023. What were some of the key achievements for the Filippi brand?

2023 was a year that produced extraordinary results on the water. Off the water, the fantastic commitment of means and men to put our customers in a position to win and compete did not prevent us from managing to increase production and consequently increase turnover. Furthermore, we have organized promotional events and international workshops for coaches in our area to spread the coastal rowing message and in recent days we have received an official letter of thanks from the President of the Coupe de la Jeunesse.

Some achievements below:

  • Second consecutive win in the Women’s Boat Race
  • Wins at Henley Royal Regatta in the men’s and women’s open double events
  • Numerous victories at the Head of the Charles, including both men’s and women’s eights, both men’s and women’s pairs and women’s single
  • 109 world-level medals across senior, U23 and junior
  • Around 60% of rowers using Filippi at the 2023 World Rowing Championships
  • Various innovations, including integrated foot stretcher for our singles, quick-set carbon plate, convex carbon rails, our new Oarlock 3.0

The World Rowing Championships in September saw a swathe of Filippi performances at the top end of competition. How important is it for your brand that your boats are rowed by the fastest people in the world?

This is very important to increase both awareness of our brand but also the product that can be made available among customers. The company vision that has inspired our work in recent years is to allow all nations to use a Filippi vessel and we are carrying this forward by supporting World Rowing projects in developing countries who might one day compete and perhaps win with a Filippi.

2023 World Rowing Championship Filippi highlights:

  • 78 boats directly qualified for 2024 Paris Olympic Games
  • 27 ‘Olympic class’ medals won
  • Three golds out of a possible five in Paralympic events

Cambridge women recorded their second successive victory in a Filippi on the Thames in the Boat Race. What does that event mean for Filippi and your global appeal?

Clearly, this was very important for the international prestige of the company; there are 200 countries connected live thanks to the global BBC production. Alongside this, victory in Belgrade for the Romanian women’s eight (plus silver for the USA) and second place for the Dutch men’s eight were also important. It is no coincidence that production of the eight rose by 30% from 2022 to 2023. But as we all know, the difficulty comes in trying to maintain a positive trend.

What are the cornerstone principles of the Filippi brand? How do you differentiate from your competition?

What characterises us in comparison with our competitors is a cycle of continuous investment in innovation (financed by public government) and a constant cycle of support for our customers at World Rowing venues (enhanced this year by an itinerant trailer). We will also soon be introducing repair courses for our international customers. All of this is done to ensure that the customer can compete in the best conditions. We also provide significant support for international races and federations across the world, retaining official partnerships with 16 international river and coastal races.

Talk to me about your vision for the brand. Where do you want Filippi to go in the next 12 months, three, five, ten years?

We have always focused on quality of our product at affordable prices, on its longevity and on the creation of a functional sales network which today has over 26 dealers around the world. In the future, we would like to have a repair hub in the heart of Europe.

Right now, we are preparing for the launch of a new configuration of boats which we have called “Performance” (for obvious reasons) and which will bring to bear the best technology on the market. An example of this is the use of Koridion to modify the shape of our components for improved aerodynamism, stiffness and to reduce the weight of the shells. From now on, our vision on cementing Filippi as the best on the market.

This implies a slight increase in costs, which we believe are justified by the investments made and the technologies used. We hope that our customers understand. Very soon, you will be able to visit our website and use the configurator icon to choose the Performance version of our boas with advanced options or you can configure a traditional boat by adding the options that you would like to try.

Over the coming years, we also want to deepen our presence in established countries and begin opening new channels in emerging markets.

In 2024, the Paris Olympics will take place alongside Paralympics plus a bumper world championships. What are your key focuses?

At the very least, we want to repeat our Tokyo success and ideally win gold in one of the eights. We would also love to maintain our pattern of success from Belgrade in September. It won’t be easy though.

What can Filippi customers expect in 2024 in terms of technological advancement from the brand?

Customers ask us for non-stop innovation, but it takes time to test products and new technologies. Only by planning innovation over the years can we present new products every year.

How does coastal rowing feature in your strategy approaching the 2028 LA Olympic Games?

We have worked a great deal to support coastal rowing, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our goal is to innovate the product, so it is ready for the Olympic event in Los Angeles in 2028. This is not an easy task, not least because the commitments of the traditional and coastal rowing calendar sometimes overlap, but we will do everything we can to respect both communities and ensure Filippi remains at the forefront of global rowing.

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