Photos: Vincent Curuchet/MACIF

Francois Gabart's new IMOCA 60

Foncia sistership in build as Gabart announces his Transat Jacques Vabre co-skipper

Thursday June 16th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

After competiting in the Barcelona World Race aboard Foncia with Michel Desjoyeaux, so Francois Gabart has a sistership of the double Vendee Globe winner's VPLP-Verdier designed IMOCA 60 under construction to be named after Gabart's sponsor MACIF. Meanwhile Foncia herself has been sold to Banque Populaire and will be skippered by Armel le Cleac'h.

Construction of the new MACIF began from Foncia's moulds in December last year with Desjoyeaux's company Mer Agitee running the technical side of the campaign. Following the lessons learned from Foncia, some modifications have been made to the design including changes in the deck plan and the ergonomics and some additional technical innovations which will be revealed in due course.

Gabart, 28, finished second behind Le Cleac'h in the Solitaire du Figaro last year and the Cap Finisterre race, and is one of several skippers that the insurance company MACIF have supported on the Figaro circuit, alongside Gérald Veniard and Eric Peron and their latest recruit Paul Meilhat.

Due for launch in August, the MACIF IMOCA 60's first competitive outing is due to be the Transat Jacques Vabre, doublehanded from Le Havre to Costa Rica and Gabart has announced his co-skipper for this event in the form of America's Cup helmsman Sebastien Col. The duo have raced together on the Tour de France a la Voile and the Farr 30 circuit in France, while Gabart was part of the team that routed Kito de Pavant and Sebastien Col in the 2007 Transat Jacques Vabre.

François Gabart commented on the choice of Sébastien Col as his co-skipper: "With Sebastian, we have very similar approaches. Every time we've sailed together, we understood each other very well and to sail with someone in whom you feel confident was essential for me. I realise the extent to which the approach is different when you're skipper or crew. With the MACIF project I have spent much time on the other side of that fence. This obviously comes with more responsibility, more pressure, but it is especially exciting. For this Transat Jacques Vabre, we are not setting specific sports targets. The important thing is to arrive in Costa Rica and say we did a good job..."

Sébastien Col said: "It's sort of history repeating itself. The first contact I had with Francois was during the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2007 when I was sailing with Kito de Pavant. He was our router and our first calling point ashore. Subsequently, we sailed together on the Tour de France and that went really well. We are about the same age, we're both rather easy and open as characters, so the partnership should be perfect. I will especially try to bring my experience as a director that I gained on the America's Cup. Aboard MACIF, the idea is to gather as much data to be used Francois during his run back, but also for the winter refit that will take place following that... "

The ultimate objective for the new MACIF IMOCA 60 is for Gabart to campaign her in the next Vendee Globe.

Read more about Michel Desjoyeaux's new Foncia IMOCA 60 (now Banque Populaire) here


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