Sunday, September 25

Parisian justice agrees with François Gabart against the refusal of the Ultim Class


Updated at 7:37 p.m.

A little more than a hundred days before the start of the transoceanic Route du Rhum, sailor François Gabart will finally be able to participate in this regatta after the verdict of the Parisian court where differences in the interpretation of regulations on the construction of the «SVR» trimaran had to be resolved. Lazartigue» and the Ultime Class. He disputes that it takes months, even before the celebration of the Transat Jacques Vabre in November of last year, a regatta in which Gabart finished in second position after the «Gitana 17».

The disagreement between the Gabart team and the Ultim Class is based on the differences in interpretation of the position of the maneuvering winches of the maxi trimaran. Its design is quite revolutionary in terms of the central cabin which is below deck where the winches, maneuver pedestals, electronic systems, chart table, video cameras, hydraulic controls, etc. are housed. with a clear obsession with aerodynamics since only two bubbles protrude from where the skipper can steer it without getting wet; It is quite reminiscent of the IMOCA Open 60 Hugo Boss design of the “all in”.

This conception allows the Gabart Ultime 32/23 to lower the center of gravity and reduce drag. The position of the cabin does not generate drag, a better use of the sail plane, specifically the mainsail, having a boom flush with the deck producing a laminar effect of the continuous wind, as well as protecting the crew inside the central hull, reducing risks and less fatigue. A sum of concepts that result in a higher boat speed and better stability when flying more than 1.50 meters above the sea surface thanks to the foils on the side arms as well as the transverse ones on the three rudders and central drift.

It took 150,000 hours of work to put François Gabart’s SVR-LAZARTIGUE trimaran into the water, which has a team of more than fifteen people, at a cost of around 14 million euros.

François Gabart accumulates a long experience in navigation aboard maxi trimarans with only 39 years. He has won the Vendée Globe solo round-the-world sailing without stops or external assistance in 2013 with a record of 78 days, 2 hours, 16 minutes and 40 seconds. Four years later, on December 17, 2017, he shattered the single-handed round-the-world sailing record aboard the maxi trimaran Macif (now Actual) in 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes and 35 seconds, lowering the previous mark set by Thomas Coville in more than six days.

For French naval architect Vincent Lauriot-Prévost, speaking to Boatsnews on March 29, “the situation is detrimental”: “…we have designed a boat for François and Mer Concept that was the best in terms of modernity at the time of its design. We did it with full knowledge of the regulations. The ship was visited three times by the class supervisory board during construction, which did not raise any objections. The class commissioned three recognized experts to validate or invalidate decisions that might have been made in relation to an article of the OSR (International Ocean Racing Regulations) that defines the position of winches in relation to the deck. They concluded that the vessel was compliant and compliant. The Supervisory Board agrees with this opinion.

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The Ultim class was not satisfied with the case and took it to World Sailing, which sets the rules for ocean racing. … an area that I can no longer control.

Our job is to make the boats work. But not at any price, since this is associated with security. With Mer Concept we realized that, given the new way of sailing these boats, with faster accelerations and decelerations, we had to protect the crew by enclosing them in a bubble. There are too many ships that have capsized and lost their crews to take any chances.”

In July 2021 the “SVR Lazartigue” was put into the water in Concarneau, days before the launch Gabart had invited Thomas Coville – skipper of the Sodebo Ultime -, who would comment that he had serious doubts about the position and design of the cabin of the new trimaran. Let’s say that from these statements the relations between Gabart and the Ultim Class would get worse, causing both him and the lawyers of the Kresk Group (owner of the maxi trimaran) to make the decision to report the facts to the courts.

After several meetings between François Gabart and the lawyers of his sponsor «SVR Lazartigue» with the Ultim Class for more than six months, the situation became entrenched, reaching the point of having to resort to the Parisian justice system to determine which of the parties was right. It is curious that the Ultim Class dismissed the positive reports of three experts claiming that their assessments were merely advisory, refusing to issue a favorable measurement certificate.

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There was a first hearing last June 23, very tense, it is not normal for sailors to frequent those places, in which the parties presented their conclusions regarding the interpretation of the regulations for ocean regattas in relation to the agreement or disagreement with respect to the design of the cabin of the trimaran. After hearing the parties, the judge announced that in a month he would issue a sentence.

Finally, the courts ruled in favor of François Gabart allowing him to participate in the next edition of the Route du Rhum. This conflict has become a war of interests, let’s say that for now François Gabart has won the battle; We will see what will happen in the face of the first edition of the Ultim 32/23 solo sailing round the world at the end of 2023.

In the words of the president of “Actual”: “It’s a story that goes on too long and if we don’t find a solution it can have consequences for the sustainability of the class and the long-term commitment of some boat owners. We don’t invest in ocean racing to have these kinds of problems.” to manage, we have to return to common sense, talk to each other and not add fuel to the fire through the media. I am an optimist by nature and I am convinced that we will find a solution together”.

The reaction to the decision of the court of Paris already has a response from the Ultim Class, chaired by Patricia Brochard -co-director of the Sodebo company that sponsors Thomas Coville’s maxi trimaran-, an entity that has to issue a measurement certificate for the upcoming Route du Rhum but which it rejects is extended to the rest of the regattas on the calendar.

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“We have just been informed of the judgment of the Paris Court. We have to take the necessary time with the other shipowners to analyze this judicial decision. We will meet in the coming days to decide what to do next. The judgment issued on Thursday, July 21 orders the Ultim class to grant the SVR Lazartigue trimaran “a temporary waiver” which will only affect the Route du Rhum and only for this regatta. Therefore, the rest of the calendar remains unaffected. It is regrettable that the court did not have take into account the safety aspect

Therefore, the Kresk Group will have to apply to enter the Ultim class if François Gabart and his team wish to participate in the other races on the calendar. “What we can say today is that we take note of the decision, but we regret that the court did not take into account the security aspect, which is very important for the class. This exception worries us. So nothing is safe for the SVR Lazartigue team.

We will collectively decide what to do with this decision. We do not take this lightly and an informed understanding is required before making the decision to appeal or not. Their decision will be announced on Tuesday, July 28.”

And to top it off, the “SVR Lazartigue” team has published that the diagrams sent to World Sailing were false and that, consequently, all the competent authorities assessed the conformity of the trimaran. Something has remained in the pipeline for Patricia Brochard!

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