Saturday, January 17, 2015


Lots of talk about the possibility of IMOCA using foils. I had posted about that here but now it is not just talk but real. The new Banque Populaire VIII, Armel's boat will be sailing on foils. The IMOCA class, now that the VOR  passed to one class boats, is the development center of offshore racing monohull. It has been so on the past and it continues to be on the present.

The idea is not using the foils to fly as one the America's cup catamarans but to create a lot of lift and take the boat more out of the water diminishing apparently its weight. As you can see on the movie they have been testing actively the system using a mini and Armel talks about 60% advantages versus 20% disadvantages. The design is from Verdier/VPLP and the boat will be on the water 2 or three months from now. They work fast in France. I am really impressed ;-)
Some interesting considerations by Armel and VPLP:

Armel Le Cléac’h:

We went for VPLP/ Verdier because of their skill and they were nearby, as we needed to be in touch all the time. Their boats perform well and have always evolved. Banque Populaire wanted to work with a French yard, French craftsmen so we went for CDK. Once again, we can take advantage of them being close to us. .. The designers showed us the new features for the hull on which they had been working. Work began on the mold a year ago or eight months after the start of the project.

The major innovation is the arrival of foils. The designers suggested these after the experiments in the America’s Cup and in sailing in general, where foils are becoming more and more common. The idea was to use these new technologies to take the weight off the hull at certain speeds and to allow acceleration. We did a lot of work with the research team and the designers, an the whole of the Banque Populaire team. This is a huge challenge, which initially was very theoretical. We decided to carry out experiments with the Team. We chartered Sébastien Picot’s Mini 6,50 N°198 on which we fitted three daggerboards, one traditional one and two with foils to carry out trials from July 2014 under the supervision of Bertrand Pacé, to find out more. It was fascinating. It was complicated to set up and adjust and after a lot of attempts, we had some surprises. We went for one of the two options suggested by the designers. We added the foils to the construction in December.

I wanted the cockpit to be protected and for the boat to be as dry as possible. These monohulls are usually very wet and you get the full force of the spray and waves. When sailing around the world, it is important to be able to carry out manoeuvres while protected by a sliding cover, with a helm that makes her easy to handle and that is well placed to offer good visibility. Spending a long time at the helm can make all the difference in spite of the efficiency of autopilots, as we saw in the final stretch of the 2012-2013 Vendée Globe.

Vincent Lauriot-Prévost:

When the keel is canted windward, the keel blade generates some lift for the boat and to act against the heel, we have the foils making up for the loss of power. We regain the power by generating vertical thrust. The boat is therefore in "air" mode more than the previous generations. It has to correspond to certain angles and forces that we often find in the Vendée Globe, and the result is a huge gain in speed of several knots. The boat will not be more powerful, but will appear to be lighter with a smaller wetted surface as she is raised up by these appendages...Rather than looking for a good all-round performer, we went for a boat that offers gains 60% of the time and slight losses 20% of the time.

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