The MOD Squad
The MOD Squad
The fabulously fast ORMA 60 trimarans were too dangerous, and expensive, for their own good. The one-design MOD70 hopes to capture that same excitement in a more controllable package. From our July/Aug 2011 issue.
Perhaps most impressive about the MOD70 project is that such an ambitious, and expensive, project has managed to come to fruition during rather dire economic times. Six of the boats have already been sold. Following the launch of Race For Water, the MOD70s production line will churn out a new boat every three months: Next is Roland Jourdain’s Veolia Environnement, followed by Michel Desjoyeaux’s Foncia in August, with Gitana, to be skippered by Seb Josse, coming in November. The teams awaiting boats five and six have yet to reveal themselves.
“We are in a new era for the multihulls,” says Franck David, Executive Director of the Multi One Design. “We are really confident. Our goal was to sign five contracts before the end of this year and to be sure to get maybe six teams at the first race in July 2012. Now we are sure we’ll get six teams and we will make the announcement of the others in a few months. So it is going well.”
Part of the attraction is the price. The first five boats were sold for $3.5 million—which is below cost. Boats six to nine will cost $4.25 million, while the last three $5 million, which is approximately equal—without adjusting for inflation—to the price eight years ago of the last ORMA 60 to be built, Franck Cammas’ Groupama 2.
“We put the maximum price on what we wanted to build and [searched for] the best solution to reduce the cost of the different parts and the best solution for reliability,” says Ravussin. “It was easy to make it longer and tack the [asymmetric spinnaker to the bow] on the main hull and that reduces the risk of pitchpoling. Then we take off the trim tab on the daggerboard, because those kind of parts are very expensive.”
A long-term plan is also part of the package, hopefully proving to sponsors that this class won’t burn out in a year or two.
“We are engaged with the different teams until 2020,” says David. “There will be three, three-year cycles, the first being 2012 to ’14. It is good for the sponsors because they get visibility. Some of them will be engaged until 2014 and then there is another cycle and they can go or not. If they stay, they will be in until 2017. But with the one design [nature of the class], if you want to sell your boat, you won’t lose any money, particularly for the first five boats.”
To date, the buyers are either French or Franco-Swiss, but one of the primary aims of the class is to be international. Since international entries are generally less eager to race shorthanded, the MOD70 race circuit is entirely fully crewed, albeit just six up. Six sailors might seem light compared to a Volvo Open 70’s 11, but the sail wardrobe for the trimaran comprises just six sails, including a storm jib and a masthead Code 0 for sub-6 knot conditions.
The first two boats, Race For Water and Veolia, will be competing in August’s Rolex Fastnet Race, but the first official MOD70 event, the Krys Ocean Race, from New York to Brest, France, will start July 4, 2012. A European Tour in September will follow the Krys Ocean Race, with another European Tour taking place from July to August, 2013, before the fleet of 12 boats sets off on their Ocean World Tour in December. The round-the-world race won’t follow the traditional Southern Ocean course, but proceed westward via the Panama and Suez Canals, with intended stops on the West Coast of the United States, Australia, Asia, and the Middle East before returning through the Mediterranean. The first three-year race cycle concludes with another Krys Ocean Race in July 2014. City Races, sailed eight up, will be held during each stopover on the European and World tours.
So what’s the MOD70 like to sail? When we went out with Ravussin and his Race for Water crew it was during their early sea trials and they had yet to push the boat. Nonetheless they had managed more than 30 knots in one 18-knot gust and Ravussin expects a 35-knot top speed. Our ride was in light conditions during which we were becalmed for 45 minutes. However, the moment the slightest zephyr came in, we were quickly up to 10 knots.