Curtain raised on the new l’Hydroptè

Graphic of l’Hydroptè - new lab boat will be a trial platform on a reduced scale for the future Hydroptère maxi.

On Wednesday during a press conference organized in Lausanne, on the campus of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), which is the scientific adviser of the project, Alain Thébault and a part of his team unveiled the drawings of l’Hydroptè

This new lab boat, whose building has already started in Brittany, will be a trial platform on a reduced scale for the future Hydroptère maxi.

Following the same experimental process as Alain Thébault who built three models before the existing 60 ft trimaran, the main purpose of l’Hydroptè will be to test geometries and behaviours in real conditions in order to design l’Hydroptère maxi.

The programmes led by the Hydroptère team are scientific and technological projects, whose purpose is to revolutionize the world of sailing and further develop the innovative concept of flying boats. l’Hydroptè registers in this global approach.

Thus the design of l’Hydroptè was focused on the desire to maintain and optimize the equipment related to the boat’s speed and behaviour 'in flight' whilst developing points such as versatility and navigation in light winds. These two elements are decisive for l’Hydroptère maxi to attempt oceanic records (Atlantic and Pacific) or Jules Verne’s Trophy around the world.

The design studies for l’Hydroptè were carried out jointly by our engineers, our 'Papés', the EPFL-laboratories involved in the project but also all the engineering offices collaborating with the Design Team Hydroptère, which coordinates all these people.

l'hydroptere development graphics.
The geometry of l’Hydroptè is innovative as she is a 35 ft catamaran with a central structural peak and v-shaped foils. She will be equipped with a centreboard to sail with the foils out of the water when conditions are not favourable for 'take-off' and no more with only one rear tail unit as on l'Hydroptère but with two rear tail units known as rudder-elevator. This will improve the balance in flight. The rigging was designed so as to meet a wide range of weather conditions.

l’Hydrotpè aims to validate the choice of a new geometry as well as permitting the effects of numerous parameter combinations to be evaluated based on the boat’s performance. The boat will therefore be a veritable floating laboratory, equipped with ingenious mechanical systems that will enable a multitude of adjustments whilst sailing. The platform as well as all the elements and technologies tested on l’Hydroptè should be transferable to the maxi.


L’Hydroptere on a trial run

After crossing the Channel in 2005 faster than Blériot in his plane, l’Hydroptère broke two world speed records in the beginning of 2007, thus showing her combination of reliability and performance.

The concept of l’Hydroptère is simple – freeing her from Archimedes’ Principle, by lifting up the hulls of the boat through a vertical thrust developed by the foils, which are like sea wings.

Today, Alain Thébault’s flying trimaran holds the record for being the fastest sailing craft over one nautical mile, with an average speed of 43.09 knots.

The next goal is to cross the legendary 50-knot speed barrier, which is the equivalent of an aircraft breaking the sound barrier, so as to enter the History of Sailing.