New L'Hydroptere test bed launched

Alain Thébault talks us through L'
Alain Thébault and his L’Hydroptère team yesterday launched their latest boat, L’Hydroptè at the Decision SA shipyard in Ecublens. The proud father was accompanied by Jean-Mathieu Bourgeon, scientific manager of the project, the L’Hydroptère Design Team and their major partners, private banker Thierry Lombard, Managing Partner of Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch & Cie, Philippe Merk, CEO of the watchmaking manufacturer Audemars Piguet and of their official scientific advisor, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) represented by Patrick Aebischer, its President. L’Hydroptè is a substantial departure from the original L’Hydroptère, the present world sailing speed record holder after she sailed an average speed of 51.36 knots on 4 November last year. Firstly the new boat is one third scale test bed for their third boat -  L’Hydroptère maxi. While L’Hydroptère captured the record over a 500m course, in L’Hydroptère maxi Thébault intends to capture the major offshore records, non-stop round the world, transatlantic, etc. Whereas the first L’Hydroptère was a tri-foiler, the new boat, and the full sized version to be built in due course, are foil-born catamarans. L’Hydroptè measures 10.85m LOA and with a beam of 10.40m, making her vaguely comparable to a D35. The big difference with the two later boats is that they are designed to go offshore and this means that rather than being the ‘one trick pony’ the tri-foiler was, they must be able to sail fast on all points of sail and in all conditions, something the French neatly call ‘polyvalent’. Thébault openly admits this: “With L’Hydroptere the boat is nice and it is very, very fast, but it is not an all-purpose boat, and the goal with L’Hydroptè is to have the same performance like a D35 when the boat is floating and twice that speed when the boat is taking off.” So from the outset the boat has