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J Composites 2022 - J99 LEADERBOARD

A promising debut for Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue in the Transat Jacques Vabre

by Trimaran SVR Lazartigue 24 Nov 2021 11:02 PST 24 November 2021
Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue finishes the Transat Jacques Vabre © Jean-Marie Liot / Alea

Second in the Transat Jacques Vabre, the Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue, only launched in July, managed to demonstrate her massive potential to full effect. Aboard the boat, François Gabart and Tom Laperche experienced some incredible sensations. The future is very bright for this new boat, where flying over the water offers up some wonderful perspectives.

François Gabart: "I cried at the helm it was so beautiful" Tom Laperche: "It was magical"

Of course, there are the numbers. Those which will fill the statisticians' notebooks. 2, like this fantastic second place snatched in the last 48 hours of the Transat Jacques Vabre after an incredible comeback, which saw the Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue make up a deficit of over 100 miles. 16 days, 9 hours 46 minutes and 11 seconds to cover 9,333.08 miles (17,285 km) indicates the race time between Le Havre and Fort-de-France (a theoretical 7,500 miles), at an average speed of 23.7 knots (43.9 km/hr). As well as 816 miles, the record distance covered in 24 hours in the event. There is a great slew of other data, which will be analysed and dissected over the coming weeks too. Above all though, it's the sensations and the sense of promise that reigns.

Aboard their flying boat, François Gabart and Tom Laperche have had an incredibly intense couple of weeks. "During the last day, I cried at the helm it was so beautiful, admitted the skipper at the finish, as he recalled the last few hours of racing. It was amazingly quick and the sensations are extraordinary. These boats really fly across the water. And you can sense the crazy amount of potential."

A magical moment, among so many others. For us, being at the start of the race was a victory in itself, recalls François Gabart. We've learned a great deal about how this boat works since her launch on 22 July. Frankly we've had no issues whatsoever which, objectively, is a surprise. I didn't think that with the small amount of sailing we'd done in the run-up to this race, we'd be able to sail so many miles without a problem. We set sail with the toolbox thinking that we'd need it, yet ultimately, there was virtually nothing. The team has done a fantastic job and I'm very proud of it. It's important to say that we had rather mild conditions, but we've covered some miles. With our new boat, we didn't set off from Le Havre thinking it would be easy. I was expecting to have some technical glitches. All the teams are progressing and learning," boasting fantastic promise and a raft of major challenges to come as well. "We didn't push the boat hard, the skipper is quick to explain. We were sparing with her and we were careful with her. And yet, it's clear to see that she's already quick. Everything is lined up to do some really great things over the coming years. These boats are extraordinary. They always will be, but they'll always be difficult boats too. In 5, 10, 15 years, they'll still be like that, as they're going to push back the limits on the oceans. We'll always be a bit borderline, but I've always loved complex things. You get a great deal of pleasure from them. When you manage to get everything trimmed just right, which isn't easy and it's not something within everyone's reach, it becomes great to sail with this degree of complexity. That's what we're striving for, otherwise we wouldn't go offshore racing." At just 24 years of age, Tom Laperche was participating in his very first major multihull event. His selection paid off for François Gabart, who'd already chosen his young crewmate twice before from the Solitaire du Figaro podium. "I have the feeling that Tom will continue to go from strength to strength in offshore racing, says the skipper. It was a great pleasure to sail with him. On a human level the experience went fantastically smoothly. Everything was simple. He's at ease on the boat. I've sailed an Ultime with some incredibly talented people too. These boats remain complicated and surprising. However familiar you are with them, you're never completely at ease on these boats. It's quite surprising to see how at ease Tom is on a boat in such a short space of time. It's wonderful to see."

It's an intense and valuable experience for the next step in his career. "There are lots of lessons to take away from this, admits the young sailor. Starting with all the advice from François. You learn to manage a boat like this over the long haul. Sailing on these boats requires concentration and thought. It's incredibly powerful. It's sport at its best, it's the pinnacle of offshore racing. I've also learnt that I really love multihull sailing and speed. Sailing is a great sport with a great many disciplines. However, when you think back about what you've experienced, offshore racing is the holy grail in terms of duelling, speed, physical and mental commitment. Added to that, beyond the athlete, there's the human, and everything that has transpired between us."

Though Tom's future seems full of promise, this Transat Jacques Vabre will always have a special place in his career. "It was magical. I experienced something incredible, he beams. When I was a kid, I had pictures of multihulls, dreams of offshore racing and I've just experienced all of that in the flesh. It's wonderful. It's utterly crazy though to launch a boat in July and bag second place in a transatlantic race. It's great for the future of the project. I'll take away lots of special moments from this transatlantic passage, the joy of being able to make the most of the moments spent slipping along and flying. We've had a fabulous voyage."

The highlights...

The perfect start

With the race setting sail in ideal conditions on Sunday 7 November, offshore of Le Havre, the start of the event enabled the Ultimes to move straight to the head of the fleet. On rounding Brittany, the Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue was lying in the top spot, albeit hounded by her four adversaries who were less than 10 miles astern.

A Bay of Biscay in convoy

Feared for her typical November menu, the Bay of Biscay surprised all the competitors by the lack of breeze. The boats were pinned to the racetrack searching out the slightest sniff of breeze. All very close together, the five flying boats were forced to sit it out, making the most of the spectacle created by schools of dolphins who'd come out to escort them on their way. The Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue was in pole position for several hours, though the other boats were hot on her heels.

Becalmed in the doldrums

Whilst the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild took definitive control of the fleet on rounding Cape Finisterre, the Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue dealt with the passage through the doldrums as best she could, moving up to second place from the Canaries to the south of Cape Verde. Unfortunately, the passage through the doldrums caused François Gabart and Tom Laperche to lose valuable miles.

A record climb up the Atlantic

On the way to the Trindade waypoint, offshore of Rio, the Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue lamented a deficit of nearly 500 miles in relation to the leading boat and over 100 miles behind Banque Populaire XI, second in the fleet. The deficit would even extend to 120 miles before the start of the climb back up the Atlantic. François Gabart and Tom Laperche treated themselves to the record for the greatest distance covered in 24 hours in the Transat Jacques Vabre, clocking up 816 miles and rejoining the battle for second place.

The comeback

Upon rounding the São Pedro e São Paolo mark, their deficit had already shrunk to 80 miles. However, with 1,000 miles to the finish in Martinique, they were trailing the second boat by over 130 miles. At that point, they began their comeback. Some 500 miles from Fort-de-France, the Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue was now just 20 miles shy of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild. François Gabart and Tom Laperche upped their game with the manoeuvres and managed to sneak up into second place with 100 miles to the finish and never let go from that moment on. After a return to Concarneau and the workshops of MerConcept for an overhaul and a refit, the 12th edition of the Route du Rhum, between Saint Malo and Guadeloupe, is the next major challenge that awaits the Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue. Another transatlantic passage then and a scheduled start on 6 November 2022. Pipped at the post by just seven minutes by Francis Joyon in the last edition in 2018, François Gabart, winner of the event in the Imoca category in 2014, taking the event record to boot, he'll be keen to add another line to his list of achievements. Coming up next, in 2023, will be the solo round the world record campaign before he takes on the crewed, non-stop, unassisted Jules Verne Trophy in 2024. "We're all excited about the coming challenges, starting with the Route du Rhum, says François Gabart. Obviously, it won't be easy, otherwise everyone would do it and it wouldn't be the Ultime class."

The Kresk Group proud about this race debut

In all the companies that make up the KRESK group, there was genuine enthusiasm for the Transat Jacques Vabre. From regular glances at the cartography to see how the Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue was doing and what was happening in the race, to encouraging messages for the crew, a new passion has been born. On the frontline of the offshore racing universe since making its commitment to support François Gabart, the whole of the Kresk group has thoroughly enjoyed this first experience. "We're absolutely delighted with the result in this first race, enthused Didier Tabary, founder and president of the Kresk group. It demonstrates how reliable the boat is, the quality of the build and her amazing potential. It's worth noting that the Trimaran SVR LAZARTIGUE holds the 24hr record in this transatlantic race too (816 miles). The Kresk group and all the teams that make up the SVR, Lazartigue and FillMed brands are very proud to have seen François Gabart andTom Laperche flying the flag for their brands. Throughout the race, the two skippers demonstrated a great deal of commitment and courage, as well as a real bond and this home straight to Martinique proves just what extraordinary competitors they are! We now have a year to optimise the trimaran's performance, but finishing 2nd in the Ultime class with a boat launched just over 3 months ago is really something to celebrate. Thank you to all the teams who have made this result possible."

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