The entire Banque Populaire team is very busy working on the new 32-meter-long Ultim, which is gradually taking shape. Although there is still a lot of work to be done, with the launch scheduled for the end of April, the CDK Technologies shipyard in Lorient is abuzz with activity
For Roman Lucas, director of the Banque Populaire team, it is “an exciting construction”; which progresses according to the planned schedule: “We can see how the ship is taking shape before our eyes, it is even more impressive than we imagined. In large projects like this, it is inevitable that you have to make small adjustments, and that is what makes the construction so exciting. It takes all the energy of a team to find the right solutions to deal with the little annoyances. There are no big problems to be sorry about and we are committed to sticking to the schedule with one goal: the launch of the Ultim at the end of April; that we can already start dreaming about the first flights ”.
“All composite and structural parts are finished”, explains Gautier Levisse, head of the design office at Team Banque Populaire. “The networks were installed last week. We can imagine what the boat will look like once it is in the water. Within the team, we are demanding with ourselves. We want to launch a trimaran of impeccable quality. We also know that time spent in the shipyard is time saved once the ship is in the water. “
The assembly of the large pieces of the new Ultim 32/23 is like a great puzzle that little by little reveals the size of a trimaran of these dimensions; With a length of 32 meters, beam of 23 meters, a mast of 35 meters high and that will unfold 350 m2 of sail surface in upwind and 600 m2 in load, with a displacement of 15Tn, its average speed will be 30 knots, designed by VPLP naval architects and the design team of the Banque Populaire team, built by CDK Technologies, and is estimated to cost about 10 million euros.
Before putting it in the water they have to carry out all the hydraulic, electrical, electronic and computer system installation. A multitude of accessories inside and cover. Rudders, foils, when the water meets the ship’s daggerboard and finally all the rigging. They still have almost a month of hard work left to see the true dimension of this new multihull.
It is clear that all members of the team are under pressure and eager to put the trimaran in the water, but a great sufferer is skipper Armel Le Cléac’h: “We have seen the boat so much in the plans, that we have imagined it in our heads … Now it is coming true, which is very pleasant for the whole team. I feel good and physically I am in an upward phase. It is important because from the first navigations I will have to be fit and ready “.
Within the regatta program that the “Maxi Banque Populaire XI” will have in 2021 is The Transat Jacques Vabre. Which will depart from the port of Le Havre on November 7 and end in the Caribbean port of Fort-de-France on the island of Martinique; Regatta in A Dos which in this one is its 15th ed. Four classes of sailboats will participate (Class 40, Ocean Fiftys, IMOCAS and Ultim32 / 23), with different routes depending on their length.
The Ultim32 / 23 will make the longest route, including crossing Ecuador to turn the Brazilian islands of Trinidad and Martín Vaz in the southern hemisphere and then return to the northern hemisphere to head towards the Caribbean, covering a distance of 7,500 nautical miles between Le Havre and Martinique island.
Armel Le Cléac’h did not want to take the opportunity to bring Kevin Escoffier on board, two great skippers for a gigantic challenge. “We decided to face this challenge with the navigator who seemed best suited to meet our ambition”, explains Armel. “They are the perfect couple to be quickly competitive and take on the others,” adds Ronan Lucas, Team Banque Populaire director. Kevin Escoffier does not hide his enthusiasm: “I am very happy to be part of this project. As a passionate about sailing and performance, it is an opportunity to be part of it.”
Within the Banque Populaire team they know Escoffier very well. He sailed for a long time aboard the Maxi Banque Populaire V and was part of the winning crew of the Jules Verne Trophy in 2012. Afterwards, he participated in the construction of the Banque Populaire VIII monohull with which Armel won the 2017 Vendée Globe. of the team that designed the Maxi Banque Populaire IX (in 2017) and worked on the first plans of the future Maxi Banque Populaire XI. Armel points out that “As head of the design office, he orchestrated the work of all the team’s stakeholders during the construction phases, from modeling to the shipyard.”
Technically, Kevin Escoffier is one of the best sailors of the moment. There are very few employers who have this double experience, being successful at sea and running a design office at the same time.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism