Prior to the ceremony, Jean Kerhoas, President of IMOCA, said: « It is with great enthusiasm that I greet the creation of Safran 2, the first in a line of new boats developed for the next Vendée Globe, which will form the pinnacle of the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship 2015-2016. This dynamism demonstrates that our class has made some practical choices, the core of which will translate as some very fine line-ups for our upcoming events. »
Just two days after being launched, the monohull, Safran, skippered by Morgan Lagravière was christened on Saturday in Lorient in the presence of sponsoring godmother Catherine Maunoury, director of France’s Museum of Air and Space, and sponsoring godfather, Jean-Paul Herteman, chairman and CEO of Safran. Morgan Lagravière thanked the partners, his team and all the Safran employees who participated in the design and construction of the new IMOCA 60.
The sun, the public, joy and emotion had made an appointment this Saturday in Lorient for the christening of Safran, the first born of the latest generation of IMOCA 60 (18.28-metre) monohulls built for the next Vendée Globe. The Keroman submarine base in Lorient was dressed for the occasion in the colours of the Safran boat.
The meeting of water and air
With applause from the audience, the guests of Safran, and all of Morgan Lagravière’s team, the godmother of the boat broke the traditional bottle of champagne over the bow of the new monohull at 1330hrs (French time). “Water and air, sails and wings, can a more beautiful meeting be imagined?” Maunoury, the great aerobatic champion, said with emotion. “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of this adventure.” Maunoury is an apt godmother for Safran, a world-leading manufacturer in the aerospace, defence and security sectors, but also for Lagravière, who is passionate about aviation and has a private pilot licence.
Safran, the pride of the Group
The role of sponsoring godfather for this new boat designed for the ocean, competition, sport and adventure, falls to Jean-Paul Herteman, chairman and CEO of Safran. “The relationship between Safran and sailing is based on shared core values: rigour, innovation and the quest for performance, but also determination, courage and teamwork,” Herteman said. “I would also like to thank the 69,000 employees of the Group who, for each race, spring into action to support the boat and its skipper. In Morgan Lagravière, Safran has chosen youth but also talent, that of a seasoned athlete with the heart of a competitor. Morgan will have all he needs to proudly fly the colours of the Group.”
A very moved Lagravière took stock of the moment. After months of design and construction, the christening of this boat designed for his hand marks a real turning point in his life as a sailor. “The intensity of the moment has caught me by surprise," Lagravière said with tears in his eyes. “I’m really happy to be joined by everyone who played a part in the design of this beautiful boat. I am touched and proud to be here now surrounded by people of this quality, of this stature, you are all great professionals in each of your areas. Thank you. I learned a lot this year with Marc (Guillemot) and his team, and from the meetings with Safran employees. It makes me want to push on ever further, my energy has been boosted tenfold. I joined the Safran project to win races and share it with you all. This confidence, this courage that you have given me today, I will do justice to as soon as possible.” The ceremony ended with the release of balloons in the colours of the boat - turquoise and lime green - in a sky of perfect blue.
The 2015 programme
For Morgan Lagravière and the Safran Sailing Team, it is now time to focus on the last elements of the IMOCA 60, and then the first test sails between Lorient and La Trinité-sur-Mer, the home port. Then Safran will set sail for the Canaries for an intense training session of about a month. “The idea is to work with a small team and focus on sailing in the best possible sea conditions and weather," Lagravière says. The IMOCA Safran will face its competitors for the first time on the Rolex Fastnet Race (crewed), on August 16. Safran will then line up at start of the Transat Jacques Vabre (double-handed race) on October 25 and then the Transat B to B (solo) in December. Meanwhile, Lagravière, ever the insatiable competitor, will resume competition in the Figaro Bénéteau from April 20 to 26 on the Solo Maître CoQ. That will provide the opportunity to train, but also to measure himself solo against some of his future opponents in the 2016 Vendée Globe, such as Yann Eliès (Groupe Queguiner) and Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) and of course to meet up again on the water with Gwénolé Gahinet on the Figaro Safran-Guy Cotten.