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Outremer on the Route Du Rhum in Saint-Malo with Roland Jourdain

by Grand Large Yachting - Outremer 6 Nov 2022 12:30 PST
Outremer 5X We Explore © Outremer

The Outremer team has gathered in Saint-Malo, France to support Roland Jourdain, skipper of the Outremer 5X We Explore, who will tackle the 12th edition of the Route du Rhum - destination Guadeloupe. The solo transatlantic race, officially was due to start this Sunday, November 6th at 1:02 pm, is now postponed due to bad weather to Wednesday, with the Outremer 5X competing in the Rhum Multi category.

For this 2022 edition, the Breton sailor will cross the Atlantic aboard a 60-foot catamaran made of flax fibre: an alternative to fibreglass introduced in the building process. With this multihull, the famous sailor wants to "show that another way is possible" in a race that has always been open to innovation.

"It's a big step forward and a great source of pride. But it is only a first step to a more sustainable nautical industry. We wish Bilou godspeed on this incredible boat." - Stéphane Grimault - Managing Director Outremer.

Outremer Supports "Bilou" in Saint Malo

On the eve of the official planned start of the Route du Rhum 2022, a total of 30 Outremer staff (including the production, communication, engineering and general management teams) joined the pontoons of the Corsair city to support Roland Jourdain. The 58-year-old Breton skipper, nicknamed "Bilou", is making his comeback after two great victories in 2006 and 2010.

"It is a real honour for the Outremer team to be part of this adventure. It is a cutting-edge project that has helped the field progress. This project also has a very strong human dimension, and our team seeing-off Roland Jourdain's departure is a fine illustration of it: we are all attached to We Explore! We Explore will also enable us to experiment low-tech techniques that we will monitor to implement these innovations," explains Xavier Desmarest - Co-founder of the Grand Large Yachting group and CEO of Outremer.

We Explore: An Innovation Laboratory

Built in La Grande-Motte, the Outremer 5X We Explore comprises of 50% flax fibres and is therefore the largest piece of flax ever made. It is the first time that a multihull of this size has incorporated so many biomaterials.

Visible in certain places such as the bow and the cockpit, the flax fibre is a technical achievement made possible thanks to the collaboration with the Explore endowment fund, created in 2013 by Roland Jourdain and Sophie Vercelletto, and in particular Kaïros Environnement, which has been testing the use of flax fibre as a replacement for fibreglass for almost ten years.

As early as 2013, Kaïros built its first 7m trimaran - Gwalaz - with these new materials, which is still used today as a test platform. This experiment, as well as its application on other supports such as surfboards, paddles and other boats, made it possible to build such a large multihull!

Why flax fibre? It is a plant fibre that is recyclable and compostable with mechanical properties similar to glass fibre.

"By committing to this project, our ambition is that these new technologies will one day be used on all boats and will have a positive impact on our carbon footprint" continues Xavier Desmarest, President of Outremer.

In addition to the competition, We Explore will be supporting an evolving public interest programme and will host a low tech lab, "a collaborative research and open source documentation programme dedicated to frugal innovation". This will allow We Explore to live several lives: such is the destiny of each Outremer!

The Route Du Rhum, a legendary race

Created in 1978 by Michel Etevenon, the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe is the queen of solo transatlantic races. Outremer boats have participated in this legendary race in the Rhum Multi category several times before, including three in the previous edition in 2018: an Outremer 4X, an Outremer 49 and an Outremer 5X.

Out of the 21 entries in the 'Rhum Multi' category, these three boats valiantly battled the bad weather, continuing to make their way in difficult weather conditions... even if the 5X No Limit was forced to give up in Portugal, after hitting a UFO.

The 4X, designed in collaboration with Loïck Peyron (winner of the Route du Rhum in 2014), finished in fifth place. While Eric Gamin and his faithful 49' Lilhadoc, in their first race, earned the ninth place.

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