Who's Who

Alain Thébault: “You must always believe in your dreams”

If modern Ultims fly today, it is perhaps partly down to one man: Alain Thébault. He was the first person to reach 50 knots on the water. The man who worked hard for so many years on the Hydroptère project was probably ahead of his time. Today, he is leading two new challenges - The Jet Hydrogène and e-Nemo - with the same infectious enthusiasm, and he is capable of convincing even the most skeptical.

I know he’s only making a short round trip between Switzerland and the Côte d’Azur, and that he has other commitments, but when I saw him arrive (a little late), with his model under his arm and his dynamic manner, I told myself that I wouldn’t have much time with him... As soon as I sat down on the couch, Alain started answering without even waiting for my questions. A good hour later, I had the impression that we had been friends forever and that he shouldn’t hang around if he didn’t want to miss his next appointment.
In the meantime, the life of a modern-day pioneer had just flown by. The life of a man who believed in his dreams and who wants to fulfil those of his children. We see him as a sailor-entrepreneur, although he insists that he is an “inventor“. At 19, he arrived at Eric Tabarly’s house in a 2CV with a windsurfing board on the roof, and left with the objective of realizing their shared dream: to get a boat to fly. And it’s true that through dedication, he paved the way for this virtuous circle where drag is reduced by 30 to 40%, allowing him to break speed records in the past and to fly electric boats in the future.
Like his mentor, who was a “fundamentally free and disruptive“ spirit (let’s not forget the uranium-weighted keel of Pen Duick 6 and the first water-ballasted sailboats) Alain wants to invent the “Tesla of boats”. As on board Eric’s sailing boats, he only trusts in its legitimacy. “The one who knows is the one who does it”. So he insists on surrounding himself with people he considers to be better than him. Today, it is a high-flying holistic team. Yesterday they were legendary sailors. Yves Parlier, Michel Desjoyeaux, Jean Le Cam: they have all been in the Hydroptère cockpit. His phone book is a veritable who’s who of scientists, engineers, financiers, major indus- trialists, politicians, and of course famous skippers. When you enjoy facing the unknown, it’s always better to be well connected.
For this free spirit, in a world that sometimes goes round and round in circles, personal and professional life can merge ...

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