Fit for the Tour, and More

The official one-design of the Tour de France à la Voile hit the water this spring. From our May 2011 issue.

When organizers of the Tour de France à la Voile, the annual multi-stage race around France (including legs on both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean), sought to update the Farr 30 as the circuit’s official boat, they put an aggressive design brief out to bid. They wanted a one-design that would be prime for buoy racing, capable of handling the tour’s rigorous offshore Atlantic legs, and portable enough to be trailered across France for the Mediterranean legs. It also had to be able to be raced transatlantic, and have a life outside the TDF. That’s a tall order for a 34-footer, but the French builder Archambault won the bid and, as of March, had delivered the first four boats to European teams.

The stock TDF boat is a lean machine, the entire thing built of epoxy-infused E-glass and CoreCell. The deck and keel frame benefit from an extra stiffening layer of carbon. The interior is what you'd want in a straight-up raceboat. You won't find any wood trim, there's no nav station or head, nor
any setees. Sleep will be found only on the rail.

The boat’s portability is addressed with a lifting carbon keel fin (raised using a vertical-screw-lift system), a single lift point, and a double-spreader, two-part carbon mast from Southern Spars (aluminum boom). For life on the road, the carbon bowsprit is detachable.

When we viewed the first finished boat at the London International Boatshow in January, Archambault’s managing director Christophe de Kerdrel said the first run of boats would be built in this one-design configuration in order to supply TDF teams. They’re developing an offshore retrofit kit (“the comfort package”) so that any of the boats can be quickly converted to meet offshore regulations for a series of planned transatlantic races in 2012 (as part of an envisioned M34 circuit that would include Caribbean events).

On the design alone, and with a commitment to the TDF, Kerdrel said they sold 22 boats, and expect to build 25 boats per year for the next several years. The development of international one-design class racing will extend the boat’s focus beyond the tour.

As a step in that direction, class rules were submitted to ISAF in January. The rules mandate a minimum five crew and a maximum eight, with “the crew mass not to vary more than 33 lbs.” At least two crewmembers must be less than 26 years old.

The sail inventory (one-set-per-year allowance) includes a mainsail, two headsails, one each masthead and fractional asymmetric spinnaker, one heavy-weather jib, and one storm jib. The hardware package was developed in conjunction with Harken, utilizing a number of new systems (traveler, jib car, etc.) Nexus is the official electronics company of the class, and thus, the boats come standard with the NXR package.

Check out our video tour at the 2010 London International Boat Show.

Archambault M34

LOA: 34'

Beam: 9'9"

Draft (d/u): 8'2"/5'11"

DISPL: 5,952 lbs.

SA (u/d): 764/1,851 sq.ft.

Engine: Yanmar 20HP

Design: Joubert Nivelt Design

For more info: www.m34.eu