On Tuesday 26 July 2016, another piece was successfully added to the fabric of the French challenge with the first sea trial on the Test AC Class off Lorient, Groupama Team France’s port of registry.
the construction spanning 35,000 man-hours and almost as much thinking time within the design team, the prototype catamaran is able to fly in 10 knots of breeze. Downwind initially, then upwind, the hulls raised up, carried along on just the appendages: 2 L-shaped foils and 2 T-foil rudders. Impressive!
The whole of Groupama Team France returned to the dock in the late afternoon, beaming from ear to ear after five hours on the water offshore of Lorient.
During the first day’s sail trial, it’s out of the question to put the structure under massive amounts of stress straight out of the blocks. As such, the crew gradually picked up the pace aboard the Test AC Class.
With the boat initially being towed by a rib, ultimately the tow was dropped to allow the prototype ‘appointed’ by Groupama Team France’s design office to express itself. The rather timid first tacks quickly gave way to more confident sailing and, one hour on, the hulls were lifting up out of the water. The only little blip came with confirmation of the poor health of the port foil, which was damaged during this initial sea trial. However, the team led by Franck Cammas had pre-empted this and another appendage is already in build.
Franck Cammas: “It was fantastic! Groupama Team France is a solid boat. There are a lot of systems to be controlled aboard, particularly with regards to the helm, but it’s pretty simple. Today, we had 10 knots of breeze and got the boat airborne. Solely the foil, which we knew was damaged following non-destructive tests, has had the very short lifespan we expected. We’d bargained on that so the new appendage is already in build.
It’s been a very positive, stunning day!”
Martin Fischer, head of the Design Team: “The Test AC Class flew well. She’s very stable downwind and the angle is right upwind! In terms of the operating systems, they surpassed expectations! Aside from the foil, which came as no surprise, this first sea trial went very well.”
The Test AC Class Groupama Team France will continue training for another five months prior to being transformed into an AC Class, which will hit the road to Bermuda with 1.5 metre extensions to her hulls.