when the boat looks like a fighter plane

François Gabart had warned: “He’s going very fast. “ We can only agree with him. Approaching Glénans (off the southern coast of Finistère), her trimaran, SVR-Lazartigue, is launched at 44 knots. On board, the skipper and his co-skipper, Tom Laperche (24, very recent French offshore racing champion) are motivated. The boat having been launched on July 22 only, they had little time to navigate as they prepare to ferry it to Le Havre, to take the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre, Sunday 7 November.

To get it out of the port of Concarneau, where MerConcept, the offshore racing team founded by François Gabart, is installed, it is the latter who is in the driver’s seat. And a little room is needed for the “animal”: 32 meters long by 23 meters wide, for some 15 tonnes that two particularly impressive foils can lift.

Equipped with an intercom headset, François Gabart communicates with the Zodiacs which will accompany the elegant trimaran – capri blue – offshore. Concentrated and serene, he is at the helm station at the back of the boat. But only to get out of the port. It is time, indeed, to go to the heart of the “beast”. This is where it all happens. That is to say within the cockpit into which we slip through four bubbles (two on each side), which are reminiscent of those of a fighter plane. A go-kart steering wheel is used to “steer” by acting on the cylinders of the autopilot.

Also on board, engineer Emilien Lavigne explains: “We have developed a force feedback system, like what we can have in an automobile simulation, in order to regain the feeling, even if there are still adjustments to be made. “ And Tom Laperche nods as he notices some feedback “Abrupt”.

Read also Sailing: “hard blow” for François Gabart, deprived of a sponsor after the departure of the Macif

A fully submerged cockpit

It is nonetheless fascinating to note that, thanks to the 360-degree cameras installed at the four corners of the boat, which send back the images of the navigation, one could (almost) believe oneself in a sofa (with four winches for armrests ), while Tom Laperche plays a Formula 1 video game.

François Gabart aboard the trimaran “SVR-Lazartigue”.

Because we must admit that, in sea conditions that are certainly very reasonable, the belly of the spacious whale is comfortable. That you feel safe there. Illusion? Not only. This is also why the choice of this fully submerged cockpit was made. Well sheltered therefore, François Gabart can settle in one of the positions he particularly likes and where he shines notoriously: at the chart table, located at the rear of the cockpit. This is where the strategy takes place.

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