Gitana's flying modified MOD70

First video of Gitana's flying offshore test bed

Friday July 31st 2015, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

The Gitana Team is currently completing the last stage of construction of its new IMOCA 60 Edmond de Rothschild.  Its craft is scheduled over 6-10 August at Chantier Multiplast in Vannes, but in the build-up to this, skipper Seb Josse has been keeping busy with his fitness regime and his preparations for the Transat Jacques Vabre, plus continuing to test the team's modified MOD 70, that over the winter has been transformed into a full foiler.

The first images of the fully airborne Edmond de Rothschild flying off the Belle-Ile-en-Mer indicate how much ground has been covered by the Gitana Team since the start of the project to modify their MOD70 trimaran.

At the end of 2013, the members of Gitana set themselves the challenge to compete in the 2014 Route du Rhum alongside substantially larger boats in in the Ultime class. To do this the decision was made to replace the trimaran’s conventional blade rudders with T-foil rudders.

The modified Gitana XV finished third into Pointe-à-Pitre in the Route du Rhum and this convinced the team to move forward to phase 2 of the plan concocted between naval architect Guillaume Verdier, the Team New Zealand engineers and the Gitana design office.

On 22 April, Baron Benjamin de Rothschild's team unveiled the 2015 version of the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild and the team's future sailing programme. Three months later, after a series of sea trials, Josse provided his initial feedback on his new foiling offshore boat: “To date, we’ve been pleased with how the boat performs but we’re not yet satisfied by the top speeds. So we’ll continue with the test process until we have achieved all of our targets.”

Josse lists the positive points of this second test phase: “During the winter refit, we revised the T-foil rudders that I used in the Route du Rhum. Modifications made to the blades' profile led to some symmetry issues, the direct result of which was a tendency to cavitate at speeds in excess of 35 knots. Basically, an air bubble formed on the profile making it unusable. We identified this flaw on our initial sea trials, and that was what was happening in the Tour de Belle-Ile, but the team has since revised this element and everything’s back on track.

"That’s one of the successes of our second phase of development. On top of that, the sea trials have given us a chance to check our theoretical data relating to the different behaviour if it is fitted with an L-foil or a C-foil. For the time being, we’re keen to continue our investigations along the L-foil route. The appendage currently fitted to the port float will be revised this autumn so we can quickly switch up to a V2.” (Ie he was trying a different foil in each float...)

On 11 May, Cyril Dardashti, Gitana’s Director announced the construction of a maxi-multihull. At that point, observers had a better understanding of the team’s logic over recent months, ie a systematic ramping-up of its activities. The results from the tests carried out on the foiling MOD70 have enabled Gitana’s architects and design team to operate on a large scale to validate the appendage configuration and systems they wish to install on Gitana’s future maxi-multihull. This is a distinct ‘luxury’ Sébastien Josse points out: “Practice is still a lot more worthwhile than theory and we’re incredibly lucky to be able to carry out our tests on what is almost a 1:1 scale. Not only does that enable us to save time when developing Gitana’s maxi-multihull, but it will also be an appreciable asset during the fine-tuning of the new giant.

"The boat’s line drawings are currently being finalised, but we still have time to change our choices over the appendages. It’s worth pointing out that the first line of the specification stipulates the design be a versatile maxi-multihull capable of both sailing and flying when conditions and points of sail allow.”

The build of the new flying maxi-trimaran will commence in October 2015 with her launch due in the spring of 2017.


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