For the 2016-2017 edition of the Vendée Globe, the class standards changed. The wing mast and one piece keel are imposed. VPLP and myself got in contact to create six new boats: Morgan Lagravière's Safran II, Armel Le Cléach's Banque Populaire, Sébastien Josse's Gitana, Jean-Pierre Dick's St Michel-Virbac, Alex Thomson's Hugo Boss and the last to be launched was Pieter Heerema's No Way Back. We looked for a way to optimise performance. This was where the foils came in.
First, we tried our former concepts with a similar scientific package to previous designs. Then, stemming from our experience on the design of Team New Zealand's AC72 for the America's Cup (2013), we decided to introduce foils into the design of the new 60 foot boats.
These innovative foils are made up of three sections: the shaft, the elbow turn and the tip. The elbow creates the vertical lift force and the tip provides the side force. We call them Dali foils because they look like the famous painter's moustache.
During the conception of these foils, we collaborated with Len Imas who I worked with at ETNZ, and Romain Garo, for the flow calculations (digital simulation of the boat's drag). To reach a compromise, we used the VPP (Velocity Prediction Programme) conceived by Dan Bernasconi. VPLP launched and supervised wind tunnel studies, in parallel. Also, I developed digital platform of finite element calculations with Benjamin Muyl, to assess the boat's solidity.
We aimed to make the boat more homogenous, while predicting increased violence of the wave impact. Rigs and keels were brought back. The front shapes are fuller to compensate the increased thrust of the sails.
The foils relieve almost all the boat. We improved their performance in the second set making them thinner and less disruptive at the water surface. The tip plays a huge part in this.
Gitana and St-Michel-Virbac associated for their boats' design. The deck plans are different than previous versions. The deck gear is lowered and the cockpit is entirely covered. The new hull we provided is very long, despite the fact that it is not always relieved by the foils (when sailing upwind for example). The new IMOCA class standards restricted the ballast volume, but the quantity of water on board is lowered.
Hugo Boss was developed for a radical programme, following Alex Thomson's decisions. The foil pushes a greater part of the boat's weight. The boat is a little narrower. You must work assiduously to benefit from the dynamic balance. The sailor must be very careful to always tune the boat in the best way (sails, keel angle, daggerboard).
Conclusion on the finish line.