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Foils for flying across the water and new livery for SodebO

by Kate Jennings 18 Mar 2010 13:58 GMT

A month from the completion of a long and important refit which has already stretched over four months, the maxi trimaran is beginning to reveal her new look. Indeed, Sodeb’O will be able to boast a brand new trim, thanks to the installation of foils designed to give her a turbo boost, added to which the livery has been completely revamped. Gone is the ‘winking mammal’ theme and instead the new livery is inspired by ‘freedom’, which translates as messages on the floats, which are dear to both the skipper and the company that has supported him for over 10 years. The freedom theme reinforces what is an essential value for the founders of Sodeb’O and around it they have constructed and developed their products and their company. As such the very symbol of world liberty, which stands at the entrance to New York harbour in homage to peace, human rights, the abolition of slavery, democracy and good fortune, will also be pictured on the mainsail of the Maxi Trimaran Sodeb’O. Furthermore, because sharing is also synonymous with the brand’s DNA, a mosaic of photos incorporating the faces of hundreds of the company’s employees will appear on the mast.

It’s the first time since her launch in June 2007 that the maxi trimaran has spent so many months on land. Questioned about the appeal of the foils, Thierry Briend, boat captain, admits how keen the sailing team is “to check out the pertinence of these magnificent technical choices”.

“The idea behind the modifications was to have a boat with the potential for advancement over time, bearing in mind that breaking records is becoming increasingly demanding and also with a view to participating in races like the Route du Rhum” explained Benoît Cabaret at the start of the refit.

“What slows a boat down is everything that’s in the water, namely the hulls and appendages” he continues when asked about the reasons for such a modification. “The aim is to reduce the drag as much as possible to be able to accelerate. A foil is similar to an aeroplane wing, which goes through each float and can be submerged on demand, according to the point of sail and the wind and sea conditions. Once making speed, the foil relieves the stresses on the float, which lifts out of the water. The weight of the boat thus rests on the small section of the foil which remains submerged and hence the drag is reduced to a bare minimum”.

After all these months reflecting on the best way forward, calling different aspects into question and refitting the boat, the team are eager to measure the gains on the water. “The choice of foils is also about consolidating the way in which Thomas is already using Sodeb’O, with the central hull kissing the surface of the water and the leeward hull lightened as much as possible to optimise the speed and equilibrium. In the heavy seas, the system also helps to prevent the boat’s bows from burying into the wave dangerously, which is a plus for both safety and performance” concludes Benoît Cabaret. Together with John Levell and Martin Fischer, he has studied all the different foil shapes for Sodeb’O. The flat ones, the short ones and the S-shaped ones, before opting for a classic shape reminiscent of those on Groupama 3 and Banque Populaire.

However, Thomas and his team didn’t want to make do with what already exists in terms of foil material. Instead they have dissected the structure and the construction method, they have cast an eye over the America’s Cup domain where they saw that the two competing boat teams were looking into the matter, and they also found and interrogated a manufacturer of wind turbine blades in Brest. Since last summer, they’ve done a whole pile of testing to quantify and qualify the materials as well as the compatibility of the various products. In fact it’s hard to imagine the amount of grey matter involved before the actual manufacture can begin of these hollow cellular structures with radial webs to take the sheer and compression stresses. This foil structure, which provides a weight saving of 40 to 50%, is also equipped with a system which will enable Thomas to modify the foil attacking angle and hence correct the boat’s trim. The foil casing in which the foils slide are in the process of being assembled. This week the mounting of the half shells took place, which is an operation which requires millimetre precision before the casing is grafted into the boat and then laminated. Following the initial sea trials and according to how the maxi-trimaran handles, all that will remain will be to finalise the sail plan, designed specifically for the Route du Rhum, with the main focus being on increasing the downwind surface.

Just a short time after returning from his round the world with Groupama 3, and once the first sea trials around the bay of Quiberon have been validated, Thomas Coville intends to set off on a full test along the Discovery Route course. What could be better than this transatlantic route between Cadiz and San Salvador in the Bahamas, whose sailing conditions are fairly similar to those the skipper is likely to encounter at the start of November in the Route du Rhum between Saint Malo and Pointe à Pitre in Guadeloupe…?

More information on the Sodeb’O website.

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