First flights offshore
The first images of the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild taking flight offshore of Belle-Ile-en-Mer are indicative of how much ground has been covered by the Gitana Team since the start of the project to modify the 70-foot trimaran.
For the record, at the end of 2013, the members of Gitana set themselves a bold challenge with a view to the Route du Rhum 2014. To give Sébastien Josse the chance to compete with the giants of the Ultime class, the decision was taken to replace the trimaran’s rudders and floats with T-foil rudders, appendages which have become a familiar sight on inshore craft since the 34th America’s Cup, but are still rather unique for an oceanic multihull. The outstanding 3rd place posted by Gitana XV at the finish in Pointe-à-Pitre convinced the team to move forward with phase 2 of the plan concocted by naval architect Guillaume Verdier, the engineers from Team New Zealand and the Gitana design office. On 22 April, after a few months tucked up in the team’s technical base in Lorient, the five-arrow racing stable unveiled the 2015 version of the Multi70 Edmond de Rothschild and her future sailing programme.
Three months on, boosted by a series of varied sea trials, Sébastien Josse presents his initial report: “To date, we’ve been pleased with how the boat behaves but we’re not yet satisfied by the peak speeds attained. As such, we’ll continue with the test process until such time as we’ve reached all the goals we’ve set ourselves. However, the sea trials off Lorient haven’t been a complete waste of time, far from it in fact because they’ve taught us a great deal,” admitted the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild, before listing the positive points of this second test phase: “During the winter refit, we revised the T-foil rudders that I used to compete in the Route du Rhum. Modifications made to the blades of these profiles led to some symmetry issues, the direct result of which was a tendency to ‘cavitate’ 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 of the boat according to either 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.”
On 11 May 2015, the director of Gitana, Cyril Dardashti, announced the construction of a maxi-multihull. At that point, observers had a better understanding of the team’s logic over recent months, namely a systematic ramping-up of their activities. Indeed, the series of tests carried out on the 70-foot trimaran have enabled Gitana’s architects and design team to operate on a large scale so as to validate the appendages and systems they wish to install on Gitana’s future maxi-multihull. It’s a ‘luxury’ that’s sufficiently rare to be worth highlighting, as Sébastien Josse points out: “practice is still a lot more worthwhile than theory per se and we’re incredibly lucky to be able to carry out our tests on what is almost a 1:1 scale. Not only does it enable us to save a precious amount of time with the development of Gitana’s maxi-multihull project, but it will also be an appreciable asset during the fine-tuning of this new giant. The boat’s line drawings are currently being finalised, but we still have time to pin down our choices with regards the appendages. Indeed, it’s worth pointing out that the first line of the specifications stipulates the design of a versatile maxi-multihull capable of both sailing and flying when conditions and points of sail allow.”
The actual build of this new craft will commence in October 2015 with a scheduled delivery in the spring of 2017.
Launch of the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild, a matter of days
“In a few days’ time, the construction phase will give way to the tricky fine-tuning period, at which point it will be over to us and we can’t wait,” gushed Sébastien Josse on entering the eastern section of the Multiplast yard. Indeed, next week, or on 10 August at the latest, the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild will be launched in Vannes after an eleven-month build process. It will be an incredibly important day for the men of Gitana Team, as well as for Yann Penfornis’ teams who, day in day out, have been putting every effort into building the complex prototypes created by naval architects Verdier / VPLP in collaboration with Gitana’s design office.
The swarm of bodies currently enveloping the 18.28 metres of carbon serves as further proof that the hour is nigh. This morning, the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild was accompanied at the yard by Guillaume Verdier and Daniele Capua (VPLP), a genuine kingpin of the design and notably the monitoring of the 60-foot build process. In attendance to observe and validate the final details, the trio made no secret of how keen they are to see Gitana 16 hit the water and put in her first tacks.
It’s worth noting that due to tidal concerns in the Golfe du Morbihan, the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild will hit the liquid element for the first time without her keel. The imposing appendage, that measures nearly 4.5 metres tall, will be stepped once she has made the journey from Vannes to Lorient, as will the mast and the boom, which are awaiting her arrival in Gitana Team’s technical base.