Christophe Launay Photography /

L'Hydroptere DCNS prepares for Transpac record

Alain Thebault's flying machine lands in Los Angeles

Friday July 6th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: United States

After a month-long delivery trip aboard a cargo ship, l’Hydroptère DCNS made it safely into port in Los Angeles yesterday. She will now be reassembled and relaunched in Long Beach, where she will go on stand-by for her attempt on the Transpacific Record from Los Angeles to Honolulu.

The Transpac, or Transpacific, is one of the oldest yacht races in the world, created back in 1906. Every two years, for over a century, it has gathered together many of the greatest sailors on the planet, who come to do battle over the 2,215 nautical miles course. This famous course has also seen a number of record attempts throughout the year. At present, French sailor Olivier de Kersauson holds the record, which he set back in November 2005 on the maxi-trimaran Geronimo, with a time of 4 days, 19 hours and 31 minutes, at an average speed of 19.17 knots.

This seven-year old benchmark, is what Alain Thébault and his all-star crew of Luc Alphand, Jean Le Cam, Yves Parlier and Jacques Vincent will be attempting to beat aboard l’Hydroptère DCNS. The five sailors will initially start in a ‘code red’ mode, as they await favourable weather conditions to material. As soon as a weather window presents itself, they’ll switch to a ‘code orange’, meaning a departure within the next 72 hours. Finally, if the weather window remains open, the ‘code green’ will be announced, with the crew readying themselves for a departure within the next 24 hours.

Alain Thébault gives his view of the situation: "I’m particularly happy to be able to attack this Transpacific record. After the long months of preparation and work, it’s a fantastic reward for the whole team and all those who are supporting us. We’re now going to be able to show what l'Hydroptère DCNS is made of."

With the timers from the the World Sailing Speed Record Council on hand to record the start time, l’Hydroptère DCNS will then head out to the start line, situated offshore of the Point Fermin lighthouse, at the south-west tip of Los Angeles. The flying boat then will have 4 days, 19 hours and 31 minutes, to reach the finish, directly in line with the Diamond Head lighthouse, in the Waikiki Bay.

To ensure l’Hydroptère DCNS has every chance of success, a team of engineers from DCNS is in Los Angeles working on the servo-control system for the aft stabiliser and completing the optimisation with a view to setting off on the record attempt.

This attempt is very much in keeping with l’Hydroptère DCNS’ offshore programme, whose aim is to demonstrate the offshore potential of ‘flying’ boats. Alain Thébault, her designer and skipper, has held the absolute speed sailing record over a nautical mile (an average speed of 50.17 knots or 95km/hr) since 2009 and eventually aims to develop a maxi-hydroptère capable of securing the greatest offshore records. As such the Transpacific Record is another important step along the way.

More images from Christophe Launay/


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