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The editor's focus

L'Hydroptère in record mode


L'Hydroptère in record mode

This time it's for real: after years of perfecting, and a few nice speed records, L'Hydroptère is tackling ocean sailing. Aim: to cross the Pacific!

The idea of coming out of the water to go faster is not new: it dates from 1869, when the Parisian inventor, Emmanuel Denis Farcot, registered a patent of what was to become...the foil! From the Wright brothers (the American aviation pioneers who made a catamaran 'take off' in 1907) to Bell (the inventor of the telephone) and his motor hydrofoils, the beginning of the 20th century was rich in inventions for going faster on the water. The Cold War was responsible for huge technical progress, and the Russians and the Americans were also rivals on the reach the 60s and 70s, when many small machines were equipped with foils and showed the speed potential that could be expected from them. During this period, Eric Tabarly took an interest in 'foilers', but the materials at the time didn't allow him to take full advantage of them in races, even though he beat the Atlantic record in Paul Ricard... And then came Long Shot, which smashed the speed record over 500m, with a run at over 43 knots. The machine was running…  
The idea for L'Hydroptère was born in 1975, but the realisation of this dream of no longer floating, but flying above the waves, dates from 1st October 1994, when Alain Thébault and his crew flew the prototype for the first time... Since then, between disillusionment, breakages and records, there have been highs and lows. But today, the 'flying boat', whose capacity for speed has been demonstrated (absolute speed record in 2009, at 50.17 knots), is setting off to cross the Pacific, and wants to take the record between Los Angeles and Honolulu. To do this, the skipper, Alain Thébault, has surrounded himself with a strong crew: Yves Parlier, Jean le Cam, Jacques Vincent and Luc Alphand...if you please!
The boat arrived in the USA by cargo ship, and the stand-by to wait for the right weather window began in early July. All that remains is to hope for good conditions for this attempt, which is particularly tricky to manage in the swell that is pacific in name only...

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