New Banque Populaire IMOCA 60 unveiled

First glimpse of new foil system

Thursday January 15th 2015, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

Following its triumph in the Ultime class in the Route du Rhum, Team Banque Populaire is now concentrating on the final phase of the construction of its new IMOCA 60 Banque Populaire VIII.

The VPLP-Verdier design is filled with innovations designed to enable skipper Armel le Cleac'h to reach the top step of the podium of the 2016 Vendée Globe in which he has previously twice finished second.

With a launch scheduled for March, the team is taking the time to fully finalise and develop this innovative monohull, increasing its performance envelope on the round the world race course. The Transat Jacques Vabre in October will be the ideal test for the new boat.

Following the 2012-3 Vendee Globe, Armel le Cléac'h and all of the Team Banque Populaire, led by Director Ronan Lucas fully debriefed and dissected that solo non-stop round the world voyage.

"Soon, Armel indicated his strong desire to return," says Chantal Petrachi, Communications Director of Banque Populaire. "The idea of starting from scratch to create a sailboat using the technological knowledge of the past races and reflecting the aspirations of our skipper, seduced us right away."

The team chose to work with the most prolific IMOCA 60 designers Vincent Lauriot Prévost and Guillaume Verdier.

"The situation was complicated because the rule was not finalised," recalls Lauriot-Prévost. "Once the rule was released in December 2013, we were able to present the first plans in February 2014. This somewhat narrower rule increases the reliability of the boats by establishing safety criteria for the keels, hydraulics and masts. Freedom of design is maintained in the hulls and appendages."

Le Cleac'h comments: "Coming so close to victory made everyone want to go back, this time with our own boat. We launched into studies and are building the best solution."

Construction is under way at CDK in Port la Foret where the team is pool some resources with the Safran team, such as tooling and hull moulds. Work on the mould started at CDK one year ago, eight months after the start of the project launch.

The general philosophy of the new IMOCA 60 is for a boat dedicated to winning the Vendée Globe. The designers have worked on the most radical options based on the potential routing for the next singlehanded round the world race. "It is a boat that offers significant gains around 60% of the time, and smaller losses 20% of the time," says Vincent Lauriot-Prévost.

The new boat features a powerful bow and hull but the biggest innovations are the L-shaped foils. "The great innovation is the arrival of these foils," confirms le Cleac'h. "The designers offered these plans following their experience of the America's Cup and the evolution in sailing generally where foils are appearing everywhere. The idea was to use these new technologies to reduce the wetted surface area of the hull at certain speeds, to increase speed.

"We worked a lot with the engineering department and the designers, and all Team Banque Populaire. It's a gamble, a major innovation. We decided to make some experiments and we chartered a Mini 6.50 (No 198 of Sebastian Picot - with the 'classic' set up of fixed keel and two rudders) to perform tests in July 2014, under the supervision of Bertrand Pacé, to answer our questions. It was exciting. The development was complicated, and after many changes, we had some good results. One of the two options were chosen by the designers. The plans were finalised in December for their construction to begin. (Read more about how these foils work here).

In addition, ergonomics, both in the cockpit and down below have been the subject of research and specific studies. "I want a protected cockpit, to be as dry as possible boat" explains the skipper of Banque Populaire. "These boats are very wet, expose to spray and the sea. During a circumnavigation, it is important to be able to maneuver protected by a sliding cabintop, with a well designed place to helm, offering good vision forward. To steer for a long time can make a difference, despite the performance of the autopilot - as we saw at the end of the last Vendée Globe.

The new boat is to be launched in March and its major test this year will be the Transat Jacques Vabre in which Armel le Cleac'h will sail with Erwan Tabarly.

"I've known for a long time," says le Cleac'h. "We are from the same generation. We sailed ​​a Solo Telegram together when we were both 'rookies' in 2000. He has considerable racing experience and is very strong physically and is a very nice guy. Erwan knows the team. He can give me a new perspective on my way to sail."

2015 program (not finalised)
End of March: launching
April: discovery, development
From 1 to 4 May: Grand Prix Guyader crew
From 19 to 23 June: Record SNSM
June: IMOCA courses in Port-la-Forêt
July: Construction
End of July: catch and release
16 August: Rolex Fastnet Race in double

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