Transpac then 80 knot record attempt
In a few weeks, they will make an attempt on the record for the Transpacific crossing between Los Angeles and Honolulu.
In the presence of their partners Lanson, Capital Fund Management, Clip Industry, Atheos and Coyote, the three sailors explained the strategy for the 'flying boat', her technological heritage and about the future challenges facing the team.
A year ago, L'Hydroptere was getting ready in the Mediterranean to be shipped to California to try to beat the Transpac record. However she arrived in Los Angeles too late to benefit from the favourable weather window between June and July, so L'Hydroptère headed to San Francisco to continue her training also providing an opportunity to expose the flying boat to the America's Cup community.
The French trimaran was the first boat to 'fly' at over 45 knots, but now within the America's Cup, teams have been working for months now to make their AC72 catamarans take off. They extended the foiling revolution initiated among others by L'Hydroptère, one of the pioneers in this sector.
This winter, the L'Hydroptere gained additional backers: The French investment company Capital Fund Management, the driving assistance solutions copmany Coyote System while joining as official partners are Lanson Champagne, plus the innovation companies CLIP Industrie and Atheos. "The budget for the record is almost complete," said Alain Thébault. "The project is still open to other partners who wish to join the adventure and get a historical record with us."
L'Hydroptere is currently in Alameda, east of San Francisco Bay. Thanks to Warren Fitzgerald and Jeff Mearing, she was craned ashore on Monday 15 April. She will receive a complete check-up before being relaunched in early May and then brought to Los Angeles where she will remain on standby for the record.
From the end of May, the period of stand-by will start. On board for the sail from Los Angeles to Honolulu, will be an exceptional crew: Alain Thébault, designer and skipper of Hydroptere, Vendee Globe skippers Jean Le Cam and Yves Parlier, Jacques Vincent - all faithful L'Hydroptere crewman who together hold many of the top records of ocean racing.
"Jean and Yves participated in the first trials of L'Hydroptere in the 190s and we experienced unforgettable moments," recounted Thébault. "Jacques Vincent joined me in 2005 and we crossed the 50 knot speed barrier together. He is an impressive helmsman."
The passage from San Francisco to Los Angeles will provide an opportunity to fine tune the boat. The crew will then have some training sessions off Los Angeles as they await the best weather window to set off.
"In June the position of the Pacific anticyclone is ideal because it enables us to sail the most direct route to Hawaii," said Yves Parlier. "The thermal wind is active in this season and we will quickly leave the California coast. Then we will surf the long Pacific swell downwind and we will probably have to make a gybe close the Hawaiian Islands."
After talking about the Transpac record, Alain Thébault continued about the future challenges of the team and a program that will see the team alternating between offshore records and pure speed runs.
After the Transpac record, Thébault wants to focus on the absolute sailing speed record, which he held brief in 2009 before it was taken off him by sailboarders. However since then the bar has been raised considerably... The engineers within the team are now working on the design of a two-seater prototype whose objective will be to cross the 80 knot barrier.
"Thanks to the performance of Paul Larsen on Vestas SailRocket, sailing has entered the equivalent of the supersonic era," said Thébault. "The physical barrier of 50/55 knots has disappeared. There is no more brakes: Now we have to focus on attaining an average speed of 80 knots with potential peaks of 100 knots."
Anders Bringdal, the multi-titled Swedish windsurfer and long-time friend, will form the two man crew with Alain Thébault to pilot this new craft.
After this new incursion into the high speed, a return offshore record breaking is expected with L'Hydroptere 2, a trimaran, which will be a synthesis of the performance of the first generation L'Hydroptere and of the best conventional maxi-multihulls. The objective is to cross the Atlantic in three days and break the barrier of sailing 1000 nautical miles in 24 hours.
"We have considerable experience in the field of foils and high speed. With these three challenges, we have an ambitious program in the short, medium and long term. Technology, human adventure and pioneering spirit will always be the core of the project," concluded Thébault.