There is a lot going on in the IMOCA class as the summer holidays come to an end. Jérémie Beyou’s brand new 60-foot IMOCA, Charal, has been launched. Vincent Riou has had his first sail aboard his PRB, which is now equipped with foils. Five boats came together at the Finistère Offshore Racing training Centre. Time for us to take a look at what has been going on this week.
Charal takes off
On Tuesday 21st August, the first new generation IMOCA came out of the CDK yard in Port-la-Forêt. A magnificent boat, Jérémie Beyou’s Charal has shown us her aggressive looking hull, based around her foils, which are huge on this new boat. “The foils stretch right out and with such appendages, sailing will be more a question of driving the boat than ever, almost like on a multihull,” confirmed Jérémie Beyou, who was very pleased that his team has completed the first stage of work after thirteen months in the yard: “It was well worth the wait and the boat looks great. She now has an incredible standard of finishing, was built to schedule and weighs in as expected. The first trips are coming up shortly.”
But between the launch and the first sail, it will take a good week to step the mast, carry out static tests and the compulsory measurements and install all the gear (including the sails) and the final bits of deck hardware etc. Charal is based in Lorient and her first sail is scheduled for next Wednesday. “We have set up a clear protocol for each trip. We are going to respect the plan, as this is the only way to work with such a boat. We have to tick all the boxes,” added Jérémie Beyou.
PRB in foiling mode
Another boat that is well known in the IMOCA class has been carrying out her first trips with foils over the past week. Vincent Riou’s PRB underwent a major transformation in the yard to be able to be competitive alongside the newer boats. The modification to class rules that now allow the angle of incidence to be adjusted while sailing finally convinced Riou to go down this road. “It’s as if I was discovering the boat all over again, as she feels brand new,” he explained. “Today, thesefoils are promising. All lights are green. There are still some odd jobs to do, but the concept is working really well.”
PRB’s appendages were designed with the goal of remaining as competitive as possible whatever the conditions and in all points of sail. Vincent Riou: “I want to have a boat that is a good all-rounder. These are not foils that are designed for very high speeds. They are designed to do better in all sorts of conditions unlike those that were designed for boats in the last Vendée Globe. They were based around one idea and that is not something I was aiming for.”
Before the start of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, Vincent intends to do as much sailing as he can to get to grips with his new look PRB. He therefore took part in the training session at the Finistère Ocean Racing training centre this week.
Three days to see how they measure up in Port-la-Forêt
Five boats took part this week in the latest course organised at the French training centre, including four foilers: Initiatives-Coeur (Sam Davies), Ucar-StMichel (Yann Eliès), Malizia 2-Yacht Club de Monaco (Boris Herrmann) and PRB (Vincent Riou). Romain Attanasio’s Pure-Famille Mary was the other boat in the line-up. Christian Le Pape, Director of the Finistère Offshore Racing Training Centre summarised what happened during this training course. “There were two major sequences. On Tuesday, the boats raced against each other during speed tests. Then on Wednesday, they set off on a course of around 250 miles for 24 hours of sailing. In what were rather light conditions, the sailors nevertheless managed to sail in all the different points of sail. This sailing kept them busy and enabled them to experience what it is like in the first 24 hours of a race like the Route du Rhum. They faced some excellent competitors, which is something that is particularly useful in these training sessions.” There are three more training courses left before the start of theRoute du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe on 4th November. The next one will take place between 4th and 6th September.