While we wait

while we wait

Initially, I thought oh heck, that column can wait till that week of AC action is over, the Ed’s going to have too much content anyway. Rightey-ho, the Cup being the Cup… we’re waiting for the action to start, so we might as well have it now. It’s about multihulls too, mind you, so we’re still in phase with the order of the day. And it’s still quite virtual too, so it’s definitely in line with what’s going on (or not) in Valencia.

If there was such a thing as a vocabulary suggestion function in text processing software tools, it would probably invite me to use the word "demise" each time I type the ORMA acronym. "Good old times" this, "such a shame" that – truth be told, the raw power and on-the-edge excitement offered by 60-ft trimarans fully loaded with curved foils and canting rigs hasn’t been matched. But the endless debates following the undignified death of the Class never led to any groundbreaking ideas.

Among the skippers involved, many were in favour (in public at least) of a One-Design solution, yet despite the efforts of a handful of guys, the idea never really caught for a number of understandable factors. We’ve seen brochures praising the merits of the ORMA70 – which was soon to become the MOD70 – a slick VPLP-designed tri, and production would start very soon, they kept on promising. The machine looked sharp and mean, and having been conceived by Vincent Lauriot-Prévost and his team one could be sure that a pretty impressive bunch of fairies had been looking over the cradle… yet nothing seemed to happen for a while – not very surprising, as you don’t exactly expect boats this size to sell by the dozen without a credible circuit. Or even with one, for that matter.

That’s why the promoters of the MOD70 must now be burning candles under Desjoyeaux’s effigy: realistically, if you’d been trying to sell a concept and the first guy who actually committed to buy it was one of the most respected specialist in your domain, you’d feel some sort of grace had fallen upon you, right? Foncia is the first sponsor to have announced it would enter the new class and buy one of the trimarans, and frankly it’s hard to think of a more convincing move for the potential partners who’ve been lurking in the alleys, waiting for someone to jump first. Of course, it’s not as if the Class had announced a title-sponsor for its circuit, but Desjoyeaux’s presence is a huge boost in credibility for the whole program – if it wasn’t the case, why would Michel’s blue stare occupy 50% of the www.multionedesign.com homepage?

I’ve recently spoken with him, and he’s genuinely excited to go back to multis, yet as he stresses that’s not happening before 2011 – as far as building the boats is concerned, the first one should be launched in October 2010, and the yards involved are Décision (Switzerland), Multiplast (Brittany) and CDK Technologies (Brittany), the latter belonging to Michel’s brother Hubert. A busy yard one must say, because they’re at the moment building "the Professor’s" next IMOCA 60, a VPLP-Verdier designed rocket, an evolution of the TJV-conquering Safran. "You’ll see that for my next mono we’ve gone quite far by pushing the concept", says the skipper who’ll race the Rhum and the Barcelona World Race next winter. Exciting prospect in itself, but going back to the MOD70, we’d really like to see things kick-off, since big multihull action is pretty unrivaled when it comes to adrenalin. You can fall back asleep in front of the AC live feed now.

Jocelyn Blériot