Multihulls Match

MULTIHULLS MATCH Taking part in the Route du Rhum: with a latest generation prototype, or a classic multihull?

Published on 01 october 2014 at 0h00

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A prototype to win Lalou Roucayrol

Lalou has been sailing racing multihulls since the end of the 80s. After having bought Guy Delage’s proa (Funambule), he sailed with the best skippers of the 90s, before finding himself at the helm of the 60’ Orma, Banque Populaire. In 2010, he finished second in the Route du Rhum, aboard his prototype.

Route du Rhum : prototype or classic

My whole life is a prototype.
I have always dreamt, thought, built and raced in prototypes.
I was born a racer in 1978; I was 14 when Mike Birch won the Route du Rhum in a prototype multihull, and since then, I have never stopped taking part, and wanting to win it. In 1990, I had my first attempt in a prototype proa (the former Lestra Sport, lengthened to 60’); alas, it was aborted. In 94, I had a superb boat (Paragon), but it was impossible to be at the start, for lack of a sponsor; that boat was wonderful! In 98, I was injured and couldn’t race. It wasn’t until 2002 that I started my first Route du Rhum in a 60’ Orma trimaran, at the height of that class, when everything, or almost everything, was allowed! Materials, lines, construction process...pure prototypes – fantastic! I finished 3rd, I was finally there! In 2006, no finance, therefore no race. We are now in 2010. I built my first prototype Multi 50’. Designed to sail singlehanded round the world, it didn’t offer all the essential characteristics for a sprint like the Route du Rhum. I started nevertheless, and finished 2nd. I was getting closer to my objective! The same year, during the return delivery trip from Guadeloupe to Port Médoc, I lost it, body and soul. After this accident, and the understandable moments of doubt and despondency, I knew that I had to have another boat to win this Route du Rhum; with Fabienne, my partner, I took the decision to build.
We thus created Noir Désir, which took the name Arkéma Région Aquitaine. A prototype thought up and designed with Romaric Neyhousser, for singlehanded ocean racing. And here we are at the start of the coming Route du Rhum with this trimaran, from which I hope to achieve the ultimate.

First lesson concerning prototypes: humility and patience!
The prototype spirit is not just about races, competition and winning. A prototype represents a team, a chemistry between the skipper, the architect, the designer, the builders and the preparers. It’s an adventure which carries the magic conditions of creation, innovation, and the freedom of construction. It is not a single thought, as in the ‘one-designs’, but the union of expertise, experience, and sometimes, dreams.
Starting with a blank sheet and pooling ideas; teamwork so the skipper at the start of the Route du Rhum is sailing an efficient trimaran which is as fast as possible. The prototype becomes the extension of the skipper, and the dream becomes reality.
The ‘prototype spirit’ means also thinking several hulls. The Multis are the realization of the maximum optimization of the transformation of the strength of the wind into speed on the water. And for this transformation to be as complete as possible, this means creating the most sophisticated and innovative machines. These machines allow techniques to progress. The Multi 50 class offers architects and racers the possibility of expressing themselves freely, within the class rules. The prototype ocean racing multihull is my most sophisticated way of expressing myself on the water. Sailing in unique boats is for me unquestionably a source of pride!
It’s finally about taking technical and financial risks; in short we will be playing with a large dose of adrenaline! When the boat is launched, it’s not finished - each day is a step towards perfecting the machine.

Second lesson concerning prototypes: team and performance.
When I retire, I will perhaps do the Route du Rhum in a classic, like Loïck Peyron. But for the moment its winning which drives me, and the boat I now have in my hands gives me hope for a place on the podium in the coming Route du Rhum and finally achieving my aim.

Route du Rhum : prototype or classic

A trimaran from the 80s or nothing! A four-handed contribution from Etienne Hochedé and Françoise Hanss.

Etienne Hochedé is a pure amateur. A skipper by passion (and garage owner in real life), he is not a singlehander. He shares the adventure of the trimaran PIR2 with Françoise, his partner/crew/sailor/co-skipper. The trio have been bringing life to the Multi 50 for nearly 10 years. 18 months away from retirement, Etienne is embarking on the Rhum, but however regrets the absence of his sweetheart. He’ll have to wait for the Route du Café in 2015!

Route du Rhum : prototype or classic

In May 2000, a 1st visit to a trimaran in Plymouth, Hervé Cléris’s CLM (Nigel Irens design) at the start of the Europe 1-NewMan Star. The hatch to enter the interior was a bit peculiar! There was less space than in my 36’ monohull! A feeling of being closed in, with no exterior visibility, but I was impressed by this elegant spider-like boat! I took part in the English Transat with the cruising monohull I had built.
2004 Transat: A multihull, or I give up!
The Transat required a 50’ boat to take part! With my available budget, the purchase turned towards the former ‘Lessive St Marc’, a foiler trimaran designed by Sylvestre Langevin in aluminium, from the 1980s, built by Dufour with sheet metal belonging to Baron Bic, intended for the America’s Cup prototypes! Having no knowledge of multihulls, we didn’t see the negative points...5 months from the start of The Transat, we had to take a decision quickly and launch ourselves! The boat does not carry a lot of sail, is a bit heavy and is equipped with small floats with fixed foils (which catch seaweed very effectively). The running backstays had to be handled at each tack (frequent refusals to tack, and lots of ‘astern’), there was a total lack of comfort; we fell for it! Etienne therefore left with very little experience of multihulls, and carried out the qualification sail hastily in light conditions with a new mainsail delivered to the quay and the accumulated fatigue. Fortunately, the weather was serene during the 19 days of the race. “A historic moment – I overtook Mike Birch (in Nootka, CLM’s sister ship) at the start; he passed in front of me again, but stopped on the way, which I didn’t!” Boat and skipper arrived safe and sound in Boston before the finish line closed!
Fall 2004: Etienne worked on the boat!

Why the Rhum?
I have been thinking about it for a few years, like a dream, a car parked somewhere! As I am almost at the end of my professional career, I have decided to take the time to do this race before I’m 60! It will be in 2014, the 10th edition of the Rhum, 10 years after my 1st singlehanded transat with PiR², the 3rd Rhum for the boat, the 1st for me. After the Vendée-Saint Petersburg (2010), the trophies and coastal regattas from England to Port Medoc, the boat conforms to the safety standards. PiR² is in the M50 class, is declared as a ‘Boat of historical interest’ and is a member of the Golden Oldies fleet! Despite its 30 years, it sails at over 20 knots; we enjoy sailing it and sharing this pleasure (aquatic therapy guaranteed, it’s very wet, but not for long as it goes fast!). From time to time, the small floats act as fuses! Refreshment stop! We plunge, free the sheets, and off we go again! This old, rough and ready boat (bare aluminum inside) remains a nice machine which can be used by experienced amateurs, with reasonable maintenance costs. With the Golden Oldies association, we are discovering that we are not the only ones with a passion for these machines; let’s bring them to life again by sailing them and taking part in the big races such as the Rhum! There are already meetings in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic; why not a classification in the major multihull events?
Etienne’s eyes are always analyzing; his trade as a mechanic requires it! Looking for the breakdown, finding a solution, as cheaply as possible - this has been the Hochedé’s daily life for 3 generations! Aboard PiR², with his magic tool box, he will always find a way to repair, replace and set off again!
Boats develop just like vehicles; PiR² belongs to the 2nd generation of multihulls – the 6th generation is now racing, but will they still be sailing in 30 years’ time? Once freed from engines and dented bodywork, Etienne wants just one thing: to make people want to bring these historic machines to life again, to optimize and maintain them, far from his singlehanded beginnings in monohulls!

Route du Rhum : prototype or classic

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