The Tour de France á la Voile, a grueling, multi-stage, month-long race that combines offshore legs and buoy racing, is arguably the most challenging one-design series going (as it has been since 1978). The event demands a versatile boat that has the appropriate draft to access shallow harbors along the race route, and can also be easily transported by trailer.
The Farr 30 has served the race well since 1999, but in 2008, organizers mandated a new design for the 2011 edition. More than 20 designers and builders put forth bids, but the French builder Archambault received the nod with its 34-footer, developed in collaboration with the Joubert-Nivelt design office. With as many as 30 teams typically sailing the Tour, and with a mandatory 10-year run as the official Tour boat, the strict one-design is ensured a jump-start as an international class.
“I think it will be much more fun than a typical IRC boat of its size,” says Archambault North America’s Philippe Paturel. “And, because it was designed with a lot of consultation from many Tour de France competitors, it will be well developed.”
As of late May, the hull and deck of hull No. 1 had been married and the hardware installed, and the launch was on target to present the first two boats to 2010 tour competitors in June when the race starts. Professional sailor Dean Barker is said to have dibs on hull No. 1. (All the boats will be fitted with Nexus electronics, of which Barker is a partner.) Paturel, who sailed the Tour on a Farr 30, expects to have his boat by late July and intends to display it at the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis.
In terms of the overall design, says Paturel, it will be a powerful boat with a formidable sail plan, and its higher freeboard (relative to the Farr 30) is a major consideration to its ocean-passage worthiness. It’s fully compliant with ORC offshore regulations, says Paturel, and therefore capable of being used for a new transatlantic race planned from Europe to the Caribbean in 2011—a one-of-a-kind, one-design ocean race.
Portability is a key issue with the Tour, as midway through the race the boats are transported across France for the Mediterranean legs. To accommodate this, the boat features a lifting keel (to 5’6″) and has a two-piece, carbon mast.
The boats will be built with epoxy and single-ply carbon/E-glass fabric, and as a tightly controlled one-design concept, it’s competitively priced. Paturel expects it will come in at less than $200,000.
Recommended use: One-design, Offshore racing
Recommended crew: 6 to 7
DSPL 5,291 lbs.
SA (u/d) 775/2,174 sq.ft.
Price: Est. $200,000
Contact : Archambault North America