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Southern Spars

Alain Thébault and Hydroptere to conquer the Pacific

by Team Hydroptère on 18 Apr 2013
Team Hydroptere will try to conquer the Pacific by breaking the record for Transpacific crossing between Los Angeles and Honolulu Francis Demange www.hydroptere.com
On Wednesday 17th April, in the Parisian workshop of the architect Jean Nouvel, Alain Thébault and his teammates Jean Le Cam and Yves Parlier announced the continuation of the ocean program for Hydroptere. In a few weeks, they will try to beat the record of the Transpacific crossing between Los Angeles and Honolulu. In the presence of their partners Lanson, Capital Fund Management, Clip Industry, Atheos and Coyote, the three sailors explained the race strategy of the 'flying boat', talked about her technological heritage and about the future challenges of the team.

Sitting side by side on an Air France flight, Alain Thébault and Jean Nouvel discovered that they had some similar ideas. Even if one of them is between the sea and the sky, and the other one on the earth, they have something important in common: the persistence and imagination in the creation of new concepts. It is in the large room of Jean Nouvel Design workshops that Alain Thébault and his crew members announced their imminent departure to California.

A year ago, Hydroptere was getting ready in the Mediterranean before being brought to California to try to beat the Transpacific record. As she arrived in Los Angeles too late to benefit from the favourable weather window of June and July, Hydroptere headed to San Francisco to continue her training and greet her fellows of the America's Cup. The French trimaran was the first to fly in the bay at over 45 knots. Make boats fly has become a fashion in the new Mecca of sailing. The America's Cup teams have been working for several months now to make their AC72 take off and in the racing world, they extended the foiling revolution initiated among others by Hydroptere, a pioneer in this sector.

This winter, Hydroptere gained two additional supports. The French investment company Capital Fund Management and the editor of driving assistance solutions Coyote System joined as official partners Lanson Champagne, the innovative companies CLIP Industrie and Atheos. 'The budget of the record is almost complete. The project is still open to other partners who wish to join the adventure and get a historical record with us' told Alain Thébault.

Hydroptere is currently based in Alameda, east of San Francisco Bay. Thanks to Warren Fitzgerald and Jeff Mearing, the trimaran was lifted ashore by crane on Monday 15th April. She will receive a complete check-up before being launched in early May and then brought to Los Angeles where she will be positioned in standby for the record.

The Transpacific record

From the end of May, the period of stand-by will start. To fly over the swell from Los Angeles to Honolulu, the composition of the crew will be exceptional: Alain Thébault, designer and skipper of Hydroptere, Jean Le Cam, Yves Parlier and Jacques Vincent, his faithful fellows who hold together some of the best records of ocean racing. 'Jean and Yves participated in the first flights of Hydroptere in the 90s. We made the first trials together and experienced unforgettable moments' said Alain Thébault, moved. 'Jacques Vincent joined me in 2005 and we crossed the 50 knot speed barrier together. He is an impressive helmsman,' said the skipper. The route between San Francisco and Los Angeles will be the opportunity to test the technical finetuning of the boat. The crew will then organize training sessions off Los Angeles until the best weather window to take off. 'In June the position of the Pacific anticyclone is ideal because it provides the most direct route to Hawaii. The thermal wind is active in this season and we will quickly leave the California coast. Then we will surf the long Pacific swell downwind and we will probably have to make a gibe close the Hawaiian Islands 'said Yves Parlier.

Pure speed and offshore records

After introducing the objectives of the Transpacific record, Alain Thébault talked about the future challenges of the team. Program: alternating between offshore records and pure speed.

After the Pacific, Alain Thébault wants to focus on the absolute sailing speed record, a grail he had already won in 2009. The engineers of the team are now working on the design of a two-seater prototype whose objective will be to cross the average sailing speed barrier of 80 knots. 'Thanks to the performance of Paul Larsen on Vestas SailRocket, sailing has entered the equivalent of supersonic era. The physical barrier of 50/55 knots has exploded. There is no more brake. Now we have to focus on an average speed of 80 knots with potential peaks at 100 knots, 'said Alain Thébault. Anders Bringdal, the multi-titled Swedish windsurfer and long-time friend, will form the duet with Alain Thébault to pilot this new craft.

After this new incursion into the high speed, a return offshore is expected with Hydroptere 2, a trimaran, which will be a synthesis of the performance of Hydroptere first generation and of the best conventional maxi-multihulls. The objective is to cross the Atlantic in three days and cross the barrier of thousand nautical miles in 24 hours. 'We have considerable experience in the field of foils and high speed. With these three challenges, we have an ambitious program in the short, medium and long term. Technology, human adventure and pioneering spirit will always be the core of the project, 'said Alain Team Hydroptere
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