Photo: Vincent Curuchet / MACIF / DPPI

MACIF year ahead

The Transat and record attempts for Francois Gabart and his new 100ft maxi-trimaran

Thursday February 4th 2016, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

Following his victory in the Transat Jacques Vabre last autumn François Gabart and his 30m long trimaran MACIF returned to their base and team in Port-la-Forêt, in early January.

While waiting for the refit of his maxi-trimaran to end in early March, Gabart resumed training at sea in the Bay of Forêt-Fouesnant, on the MACIF Diam 24 trimaran to continue testing different appendage shapes for the big MACIF trimaran.

Gabart' mind-set and approach is to break new ground as he sails on his M24, the codename given to his 'customised' Diam 24 with its foils: "We have worked on a Diam 24, adding two new floats, to create a very similar version to MACIF. The goal is not necessarily to fly in the same airborne way as you would these days on a foiling Moth or a Flying Phantom, but really to use it as a testing ground for the trimaran."

Photo: Alexis Courcoux / MACIF

Two different types of foil plus a second generation of rudders were tested on the first runs, providing valuable information to MACIF's technical team in their quest for improvement.
Gabart also took the opportunity to familiarise himself further with flying and using the foils on these test sails. "Beyond the developments we can make on MACIF thanks to these test runs, for me the M24 is an active training platform. It is important to spend time at sea during the winter, especially on a boat whose behaviour is as close as possible to our trimaran, because we set her up that way. It allows me to experiment with a few things at the helm and with trimming, and even to try things that I wouldn't dare to on the big boat."
Still driven by the same unremitting desire to make progress, Gabart invited skippers such as Yoann Richomme (Skipper Macif 2014) and Vincent Riou (PRB) to join him in these sailing sessions, anticipating constructive input from them: "By doing this, we can give some thought to the problems of flying. We enjoyed much discussion with Vincent in 2014 when we were preparing for the Route du Rhum. He's a sailor I enjoy working with. He is interested and it is always rewarding to get his feedback. And since we are not competing on this project, we can have endless discussion!"
After a 12 day delivery back from Brazil the trimaran returned to the CDK Keroman boatyard in Lorient, and is now regularly visited by Gabart, who is following her winter refit. Three work areas have been defined: the first devoted to dismantling, checking and reassembling many items; the second coveirng two areas of optimisation connected with the cockpit and ergonomics of the living area/cabin ergonomics (notably with a much larger roof, a new seat and so on); the third, the installation of the foil in the port float.

Photo: Alexis Courcoux / MACIF
Until the end of February, Gabart will continue this same rhythm, alternating sailing, physical training, visits to the boatyard, meetings with his team and with MACIF, but also studying the weather with his future race and records in mind: "I study the different routing to familiarise myself with the courses and understand the key weather challenges."

In early March Gabart will then go back to sailing the MACIF maxi-trimaran singlehanded, with the aim of being ready for the prologue of The Transat, which will start from St Malo on 23 April bound for Plymouth.

"We will be in a fairly short preparation phase, like last year, before the Transat Jacques Vabre. I will still have quite a few things to learn because I have never sailed singlehanded on this boat. You need to be both good, effective in order to be in St Malo having prepared in the best conditions."

Scheduled are several days sailing on the ocean and discussions are underway with Yves Le Blévec (Actual) and Thomas Coville (Sodebo) to set up a joint training programme.

After the Transat prologue, Gabart will be in Plymouth for the Transat, which sets sail bound for New York on 2 May.

At the end of May, he and MACIF will be on standby for an attempt on the singlehanded North Atlantic record from New York to the Lizard, currently held by Francis Joyon with a time of 5 days, 2 hours, 56 minutes and 10 seconds. The MACIF trimaran and the whole team will then be present in Brest for the Maritime Festival over 13-19 July.

Gabart will attempt another record in September – the Mediterranean – which will conclude 2016!


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