The dream is not new. Making a boat fly over the seas rather than through it is a target that many sailors perservered to achieve. Combining the nautical and aeronautical world, sailing and gliding, the frontier between sky and sea has never been so thin for these extreme skippers.
On 18 March at 18.30, Alain Thébault and his team will be present to celebrate the opening of the new exhibition entitled 'Skippers du Ciel… L’aventure des Voiliers Volants'. This will take place at La Cité de la Voile Éric Tabarly in Lorient France. This temporary exhibition is dedicated to the flying sailing boats and the adventurers over the year who have tried to makes boats fly. Eric Tabarly himself was one, Alain Thébault and his l’Hydroptère team another.
Assisted by his team, crew and supported by his partners, the private banking house Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch & Cie and watch manufacturer Audemars Piguet, last autumn, Alain Thébault managed to earn l'Hydroptère the title of the fastest sailing boat on the planet.
This exhibition’s opening and the site where it takes place have a very special meaning. Éric Tabarly supported Alain Thébault at the end of the 80s and motivated him to make l’Hydroptère’s dream come true.
Engineers and technicians will also be there to explain their work on l’Hydroptère and more recently on the design and building of l’Hydroptère.ch. This 35 feet long catamaran will be launched this summer on Lake Geneva as a reduced scale development boat for the design of l’Hydroptère.maxi, dedicated to offshore sailing, with the major aim of completing a circumnavigate in around 40 days.
The 400sqm exhibition is centred around a 1/3 scale model of l’Hydroptère which helped Alain Thébault develop and fine-tune the 60ft flying trimaran, and tells the story not just of l’Hydroptère but of other pioneers in this area dating all the way back to 1860. Pictures, video recordings, a flight simulator, stories and practical experiments will help visitors to better understand how these extraordinary flying boats work.
For those who don't know, the Cité de la Voile Éric Tabarly in Lorient, close to the WW2 nazi-built submarine silo where teams such as Groupama and Banque Populaire are based, has been opened recently as a unique centre of cultural, scientific and technical discovery, presenting in its 6,000 m² space the whole history of French sailing. The centre was set up by Cap Lorient (Lorient local authorities) and the Association Éric Tabarly, presided over by Eric's wife Jacqueline, who wished, to give people the opportunity to experience sailing through a permanent and interactive exhibition dedicated to modern sailing and offshore racing, also as a tribute to Éric Tabarly.
La Cité de la Voile Éric Tabarly is a place of discussion and shared experiences with a space dedicated to news and a documentation centre where professional colloquiums and conferences can take place. Thanks to an 'immediate boarding' programme, visitors have the opportunity to sail on the last generation of sailing boats (Kaïdoz 31) in Lorient harbour.