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Veil.  François Gabart: “It’s a boat that will fly early and fast” – Sailing


This is your second maxi, what are the technical novelties of this “SVR Lazartigue” flying boat?

The big news is obviously the appendages. We talked about it a lot, but we worked a lot on it. The foils on the floats, the rudders and the overall aero of the platform: we have straight arms, we have a platform that we have optimized and which has led us to a choice in terms of ergonomics where we have the cockpit which is in the central shell. There is really nothing that sticks out and we think that in terms of performance, it can be good.

Why such an advanced living cell?

It starts with a choice of performance and safety. Performance because we managed to integrate this cockpit, which is often added on boats and took up space at the front surface. There, we manage to integrate this work surface. And in terms of security, we work in a closed area. It’s a trimaran and if we do everything we can not to turn it over, it can happen and it’s still something that needs to be planned better. You are safer if the boat capsizes if you are inside the boat than outside. We must also see that in addition to the aero, in terms of comfort for sailors, we need to be protected because we are able to go very fast: in 20-30 knots of wind, we are able to go at about the same speed. We have headwinds over 100 km / h, if we are not protected, we simply cannot open our eyes, steer or tune the boat.

What about the appendages?

We are trying to have foils capable of flying faster, earlier. to be able to fly in a more stable manner. To be able to fly faster for longer. We’re on an offshore racing boat. We try to have high averages for a long time. We are not trying to speed up. Obviously, I dream of going over 50 knots with this boat, but we haven’t tried to imagine a boat that would peak at 55 or 60 knots. It is not the object. On the other hand, trying to go at 40-45 knots regularly and for a long time is the goal! The appendages are made for that: they allow you to take off as early as possible on a round-the-world race, on a transatlantic race, it allows you to increase the average speed. Then as soon as you fly, manage to keep it for a long time.

Is this also the case for supporting planes on the rudders?

Yes, we are considering the appendages as a whole: the two foils, the three rudders and the central fin in a stingray wing. These are the six things to consider. In navigation, only four are used: two floats downwind and two of the central hull. There are two that will be raised downwind. We are therefore based on four elements. We’re going to have two rudders, a fin and a foil. It is therefore necessary to imagine these four elements at the same time so that they bring a stable support on the water so that the boat can fly in a stable configuration.

What have you kept from the old one?

When you’ve been lucky enough to have been able to sail in this class for five years, there are a lot of systems that have been made more reliable or improved. In terms of structures, we have improved but we have not revolutionized anything that will allow us to save time in the development in the weeks and months to come. We kept the same family of foils, we did not go into a rupture but more in an evolution in terms of size.

It is now a flying boat, built with this objective: what do you expect?

It’s going to be awesome. It’s a boat that will fly early and fast. These are crazy sensations. Why are we stealing? In fact, when you are on these appendages, there is less friction, so the boat accelerates. We have the impression of moving with a minimum of energy. It’s something that fascinates me. I’ve been tasting this for almost ten years and I’m addicted, I love it! I am convinced that this is a path that must be explored and in which we must still progress. And I can’t wait to see what happens on this boat.

There are three months left before the Transat Jacques Vabre, the first race (double-handed) of this boat: is it little to take it in hand?

It’s a real challenge. Launching this boat today, for a Transat Jacques Vabre in three months, it’s complicated. We are in a kind of sprint. We were already tense at the end of construction. We are delighted to have this deadline which arrives very quickly. But in the team, we are used to having tight timing with the next race but it’s a good problem, it’s a problem that we like. We’ll have to try to navigate a lot. Do not confuse speed and haste. That is to say, navigate as much as possible without doing anything. If we look at the past: we launched the last boat in August 2015 and we won the Jacques Vabre behind and the Imoca before, we also launched it in August and we finished fourth ! It’s possible to win or perform in a race a few months after the launch, but it will be complicated because there is competition in the Ultimate with boats and super-prepared crews, but it will be great.

Especially since your partner, Tom Laperche, is going to do the Solitaire du Figaro at the end of August, that is to say three weeks of absence?

He will do the Solitaire between mid-August and mid-September. We will sail as much as possible with the team during this time. We have a lot of technical and reliability work to do in the meantime. We will have a very short time all the time before the race but we will optimize it. I know he’s a pretty brilliant sailor, very young but talented. I think we can make a good duet. In general, I am confident in the team that is in place and in our future duo. We have everything we need to do something good.

You said some time ago that it was a boat designed to try to beat the Jules Verne Trophy (crewed round the world): what does that change?

After the Jacques Vabre, there is the Route du Rhum, which will arrive very quickly (end of 2022), then a solo round the world in 2023 and then after records. Potentially between all these races, if all goes well next year we could set out on a record for crossing the Atlantic and in the longer term why not a Jules Verne Trophy indeed. It’s a record that makes me dream. We designed this boat to be able to perform well as a crew around the planet, able to fly at full speed as a crew, that makes me dream. So at the end of the project, we will try to tackle this magnificent Jules Verne Trophy.

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