Before this new trimaran there was the «Banque Poulaire IX», which had a short life since its launch in October 2017. It was conceived to be a flying multihull, a hunter of records, but its patron Armel Le Cléac’h ended up living of rollovers in the same year, the first in April 2018 and the second in November during the celebration of the Route du Rhum between Saint-Malo and Pointe-a-Prite on the island of Guadeloupe.
The meteorological conditions in the Bay of Biscay were very harsh in wind and sea conditions. Armel Le Cléac’h sailed behind among the Ultime Classes because four hours after the start of the regatta he had to make a technical stop in the port of Roscoff due to problems with the energy system of the «Banque Poulaire IX», losing two hours compared to the other maxi trimarans. The crossing of the Bay of Biscay was carried out on a more northerly route than the rest of the Ultime fleet but already in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean it capsized about 340 miles northeast of the Azores islands due to the starboard float breaking due to the heavy seas with waves greater than five meters high and winds greater than 35 knots. Luckily, he was rescued alive by a Portuguese fishing boat who landed him in the port of Vigo, but the ship was completely destroyed.
After that incident, the Banque Populaire itself decided that the team would start working on a new maxi trimaran design. Since April 2019 a total of 200 people have been working in the «Banque Poulaire XI», some more directly others from other locations so that the construction in the CDK shipyards in Lorient say they form a great puzzle that will be concluded in the spring of 2021.
“Before defining its geometry, we started by producing a kind of white paper (blank paper) of the Banque Populaire IX that, after being torn and overturned on the Route du Rhum 2018”, explains Gautier Levisse, director of the study office. The new maxi trimaran, designed by the architecture studio VPLP and whose graphics were designed by Jean-Baptiste Epron, innovates such as its load-bearing planes and its foils, two and a half times larger. Team Banque Populaire’s design office has set out to design internally and on-site “most of the systems up to the interior equipment.
Every aspect of this titanic site requires hours of work and thought. Just for the two floats, the central hull and the link arms, it took eighteen months of construction! To assemble this giant of the seas, the skills to unite are abundant. Specialists in composites, sailboats, engine manufacturers, hydraulic engineers, hardware, shipbuilders: every supplier, outside worker and every member of the team is fully involved ”.
Month after month the «Banque Poulaire XI» has been taking shape, always from the perspective of reliability as well as performance. To the extent that in the words of Ronan Lucas, director of the Banque Populaire Team, “In order to strengthen Banque Populaire XI as much as possible, we are one of the few teams that systematically requires double verification by a second expert firm for structural calculations.”. As an example, they decided to install a system on the bow arm that collects data on all loads and forces that act in the event that the ship accidentally hits a floating object. In addition to fiber optics everywhere, especially in fairings. Visibility towards the bow has been improved with video cameras and a detection system at the top of the mast and at the bow of the daggerboard. With all the safety measures that have been taken, the new boat will weigh a ton more than its predecessor.
Armel Le Cléac’h follows up on its construction, but has been doing a physical preparation focused on this type of sailboat for some time. As soon as you are ready to sail, you will start a training program with the trimaran, test all the systems and validate them. Then it will go to the Mediterranean and at the end of July it will return to Lorient to prepare a round trip Atlantic crossing, and in October 2021 it will moor in the port of Le Havre to participate in the Transat Jacques Vabre