Back in 1995, the elite of the sailing world met up in San Diego for the 29th America’s Cup, the most coveted trophy in the history of sailing. Just as in all those international meetings, if there was competition on the water, it was just as fierce on the drawing boards of the world’s greatest marine designers.
At the request of Défi France, led by Marc Pajot, Philippe Briand, one of the most gifted architects of his generation, designed two ‘laboratory’ boats, LAB 1 and LAB 2, to check his technical choices while waiting for the full-size boats, which were to be France 2 and France 3. It was at the end of 1993, early ’94, when the two half-size America Class came out of Jeanneau Techniques Avancées (JTA). They were11.84m long, 2.75m wide, and drew 2 metres. Stiff canvas, and with three tonnes of displacement for two in the bulb, these LABS were fast, easy to handle and turned on themselves. They were tested, used for training, and then the two mini America Class sank into oblivion. Stéphane Dheygers bought them in 2006 and accepted the challenge, with Pau Yacht Club, to put them back in the water and see them sail again.
Invited to the Grand Pavois in 2007, LAB 1 had its first outing on the water. They were already attracting attention … But after two hard winters in the water, sailing boats quickly fall into disrepair. They were stored on dry land, but needed to be restored to get back their main strengths. Never officially seen together, Grand Pavois 2013 will be the the first 'walkabout' for LAB 1 and LAB 2, and the enthusiasts’ show will have the honour of seeing, sailing side by side, these two boats which were classified as part of France’s marine heritage in 2010. Marvellous …
To mark the occasion 'The LABs emerge from the shadows' at Grand Pavois 2013, Pau Yacht Club is launching a subscription to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of LAB 1 and LAB 2. The idea? To bring 75 donors together with the aim of restoring these two mini America Class, to come to La Rochelle to celebrate this anniversary, to sail aboard these legendary boats and, above all, to support a project as rare as it is unique, in France.
For more information visit www.ycpau.com
by Veronique Largeau
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11:33 AM Tue 18 Jun 2013GMT
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