doing it again

Ronan Lucas, team manager and skipper Armel Le Cléac’h Team Banque Populaire. | THOMAS BRÉGARDIS

The racing team off Popular Bank, based in Lorient, today confirmed the construction of a new maxi-trimaran Ultimate, following the loss of Popular Bank IX, skippered by Armel Le Cléac’h, November 6 last in the Route du Rhum. For Ouest-France, Ronan Lucas, Team Director, discusses the causes of the capsizing and details the new project that leads the skipper and his team until 2024.

The racing team off Banque Populaire installed in Lorient, announced the construction of a new maxi-trimaran Ultimate after capsizing and loss of sailboat racing Banque Populaire IX. Interview with Ronan Lucas, the team director who returns to the capsizing of the boat, and the project team.

Ronan Lucas, what can you remove as explanations of what capsize November 6?

It is not obvious to know. If we knew exactly what happened, it would be almost easy. Today, we know that we put in work to make it not happen again. For 15 years that we are on the circuit, there has never been a major break, this is the first damage to that order. We, when we built a boat like this, we used two structure of firms. The entire boat passes in the mill computers and then all the sensitive points are independently reviewed by another firm of calculation, to see if there is no inconsistency. We spent all our boats, from Banque Populaire V in these belays, and I think it is one of the few racing teams to do so. Our goal is to never take a risk to the marine and boating. And on Banque Populaire IX, we were extremely confident about the strength of the boat.

After the first capsize?

No, upstream in the building. Then we did a bunch of tests, many resorted to experts during construction and after the launching. Our expert, Emmanuel Le Borgne passes twice a year on the boat and expertise all sensitive parts: the mast arms, appendages … And that’s what was done after the first capsize. They had gone even further, opening his arms, opening the composite to see inside. And nothing was found! Just a little trick on a rear arm, which had been repaired. But nothing on the arm before anyone suspected of having sold! So we left extremely serene on the Route du Rhum.

“A shock at the arm before” You had tested the boat in rough conditions?

Since the catch and release of the boat this summer Armel had one thing in mind, that to go sailing in the breeze and the sea, to test the boat. And during training rides, where we shot, we checked again, the floats and the rest of the boat. We could not imagine that there would be a failure before leaving. And yet there was this case.

Route du Rhum 201811th edition DépartArmel The Ultimate in Le Cléac’h Route du Rhum The 201,811th edition DépartArmel Le Cléac’h in Ultimate | Joel Le Gall
You say imagine?

Yes, because we do not know. Today, there is even a third firm computing structures which expertise on behalf of insurance, and which, at that time, did not find anything on the recovered parts in the calculations, and in the implementation method.

So what conclusion do you draw?

So … we imagine that this is an external event that damaged the maxi trimaran, which has made it is weakened and the breaks arm. And that, between the small depression Monday afternoon, after which Armel has checked the boat, and Tuesday noon at the break. Today, no other ideas than that.

It is therefore the arm that broke, and not float …

Yes, at first it is the information that we had, because the float was blocked. But, having got to speak with Armel seen pictures, we now imagine this is the starboard bow arm broke, due to a shock, then the second rear arm, but it’s all in seconds. It was an accident that makes it insane chain of losses behind.

“Impact with a log”
And at no time, you do not say that architectural firms have underestimated the design or the strength of the boat structure?

No. Look at the boat that is there (he shows thereby Macif window at the dock), it was the same arm as him. And he has crossed the Atlantic without problems. We will ensure in the future create other arm structures that will ensure that when there is a break, it avoids capsizing and endangered marine. But I do not think that what is done today is anything. The new Ultimate steal, certainly, are often in contact with water, it is faster, but the boats are instrumented today. We know exactly, at time T, what power grows in the foil … and that it corresponded to what is obtained by calculations. And what was built instead grows 20% less than had been imagined. So the calculation chain is not déconnante.

The arm before port side. Internship multihull class of Ultim off Fouesnant, a month of departure of the Route du Rhum.A board Ultim Banque Populaire skipper Armel Le Cléac’h The arm before port side. Internship multihull class of Ultim off Fouesnant, a month of departure of the Route du Rhum.A board Ultim Banque Populaire skipper Armel Le Cléac’h | Thomas Brégardis
And you do not know what has hit in the arm for the damage?

No, Armel and heard nothing as shock. This is not a container that did it. Besides, it’s probably not a shock that occurred at the time of breaking the arm, but before. One can imagine an impact with a log that makes it damaged, gradually weakening it … and at some point break, it is brutal. The conditions were not easy, but it was still manageable. We’ve all sailed in 40 to 50 knots of wind, but it is not the Love Boat either.

What to do about that?

Perhaps arm bars that stand for themselves, for a planned refit impacts … but do not be too innovative and take new risks.

Say insurance?

The pre-report that they have made is very favorable for us. And they understood that it is not to play me or Armel or guys from the design office. If you say to me you can do 10 knots more, but there is a risk … I would answer: we do not. I do not care that Banque Populaire do 100 or 200 kilos more, this is not the speech of our team. We have no right to take risks. But while saying this, we must admit that a thing has happened, and we do not really know anything, so we will strengthen, we will do everything to make it not happen again. For even if we got caught a log, even with a damaged fairing, the arm should not fart like that. It must remain sufficiently operating in its structure, so that we can get out of a situation.

“A new multi, a bit better”
And now, you’ll do what?

We will make a beautiful maxi-trimaran to leave! A beautiful maxi. The key question was: do Armel feels. And that was essential. Because this is not the type of boat where one is going backwards. And if he says, I sense, so

And you, you feel Armel?

I know him. I can see how he uses the boat. I see the vista it has, and it’s very impressive!

Internship multihull class of Ultim off Fouesnant, a month of departure of the Route du Rhum.A board Ultim Banque Populaire skipper Armel Le Cléac’h Cléac’hArmel the winch Internship multihull class of Ultim off Fouesnant, a month of departure of the Route du Rhum.A board Ultim Banque Populaire skipper Armel Le Cléac’h Cléac’hArmel the winch | Thomas Brégardis
So restart building an Ultimate?

Yes. It is in this process one, which is already launched. And, we have the chance to re-build something because it’s a chance. Many partners would have thrown in the towel. And, honestly, I think that Banque Populaire has not asked the question. They have us, of course, asked questions, but they know that we have not done anything. So, as we have the chance to play again, we will try to make a boat, a bit better still. There are two years, we wondered if such a boat could fly, now we know.

This is a boat built on the same basis as Banque Populaire IX?

We work with different architects, even if everything is not stalled. But we will work with VPLP, and others to the appendices. The constraints that we have, is to use the molds of the floats possibly arms molds without making the same structure. It looks as mussels and structure of existing vessels, as the arms of Macif, for example. There were more questions than answers. But we do not start from a blank page. It will have a chassis base BP IX, but the foils will not be collocated, the mast is more, appendages have a different form.

When will it be under construction?

There, in the spring, for pure construction, the first carbon folds will be installed in March. The idea is to be in the water, the end of 2020, early 2021. 18 months of construction. But we want to take the time to do it right.

Compensated at the price of the boat
Banque Populaire gives you the same financial envelope?

Yes, anyway, a boat like that it’s always the same envelope. Just over € 10 million. Here you do not pay the mussel floats, because we already have them.

You have not recovered from the old boat?

Not almost nothing. And the parts that we have recovered are the property insurance, as the boat will be considered a total loss. Eventually it will buy parts for the insurance, but at the margin.

Where are you, exactly, with insurance?

We’ll see what it will pay us. We are confident to date that we rule the entire incident. The boat is insured for X, and touch this X amount which almost corresponds to the actual price of the boat.

This is good news for your sponsor …

Yes, and this is what can help revive a beautiful project.

Thanks to Ouest West