New trimarans to race in Challenge Mondial Assistance

Loick Peyron and Lalou Roucoyrol have boats fresh out of the box

Thursday May 10th 2001, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
In the build-up to the start of the Challenge Mondial Assistance in Cherbourg this Saturday all eyes will be upon the two brand new 60ft trimarans, Banque Populaire and Fujifilm.

Last year Banque Populaire folded up and was abandoned in the middle of the Europe 1 New Man STAR. Embarrassingly this was the first major outing for Lalou Roucayrol's trimaran. However CDK Composites in Port la Foret had built her using female moulds and another new Banque Populaire has been put together from the same moulds. Designer Marc Lombard told madforsailing that having sailed the old boat they had been able to make some small imporvements to the latest Banque Populaire. "We have moved a little of the weight forward," he said. "Before it was very efficient in reaching conditions but it wasn't very good upwind." The cross beams have been moved forward slightly.

Banque Populaire's carbon fibre rotating wingmast has been altered so that it not only cants from side to side (this helps keep the boat upright maximising the amount of sail area presented to the wind) but also has a hydraulic ram on the forestay so that the rig can be tilted fore and aft. Lombard says that the fore and aft balance of the rig can vary greatly - sometime they sail with full main but only a small jib. On last year's Banque Populaire they introduced a new type of retractible foil in the floats to help minimise drag on the floats. These are curved so that the more that protrudes from the hull the more the tips points horizontally towards the central hull of the boat. Lombard describes their shape as being like a "grapefruit knife"

The most significant new launch is unquestionably the new Fujifilm for Loick Peyron. Over the last decade Peyron has won more events in the 60ft class than any other skipper and has proved nearly unbeatable in ORMA's series of round-the-cans Grand Prix despite sailing a relatively ancient boat. Last season Peyron sold his ten-year-old Nigel Irens-designed trimaran Fujicolor to his former first mate, the highly capable Jean-Luc Nelias. The new Fujifilm is another Irens design although there has been much input from Marc Lombard, particularly on the foils which are similar to Banque Populaire's.

Despite the hype there is little radical about the design of the new Fujifilm. This is an indication of how sophisticated this class is getting; despite being a relatively 'open class' there is little room for massive change. Nigel Irens says she is narrower along the waterline, but perhaps most obvious is that Fujifilm's cockpit is larger than the old boat. This has been a trend in the class as the emphasis has shifted more towards the highly televised round-the-cans events (where speed of crew work is paramount) and away from the singlehanded long distance events. Fujifilm has had her deck lowered to the level of the cockpit sole between the aft beam and the curved mainsheet track.

Construction of the boat is more sophisticated - she is built entirely in prepreg carbon fibre and her mast has been structured in such a way that it will twist, thereby going some way to deal with wind shear. The mast cants athwartships using massive hydraulic rams attached to the shrouds - a similar system to the one Peyron and his team pioneered on Fujicolor. Perhaps the major development are the foils, designed by Marc Lombard. Similar to Banque Populaire's foils, Fuji's are curved. This shape allows the foil to exit the hull lower and provides a more horizontal plane for the foil beneath the waterline.

At the time of writing eight of the nine boats taking part had arrived in Cherbourg. Fujifilm suffered problems with the base of the her mast at the weekend and was due to arrive in Cherbourg today.

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