On Sunday, a fleet of 42 will depart Le Havre, France, and take on the 5,400 nm Transat Jacques Vabre. While the focus will be on the IMOCA class, as the race is the first event that will put the newly designed, foil-sporting generation up against the classics in a full-scale test, the maxi-trimarans in the Ultimate class will be having a showdown of their own.
On the line will be 4 of the biggest, fastest trimarans, all crewed entirely by French sailors and all hoping to claim the 2015 Transat Jacques Vabre title.
The newest boat on the line, Macif was launched this summer for skipper Francois Gabart’s upcoming solo round-the-world attempt. The new VPLP design features lifting foils similar to those found on the new IMOCA boats. Like the lateral foils on the Mono 60s, the foils on the 100-foot trimaran will enhance stability and increase speed when compared to traditional daggerboards. Also like the IMOCA class, the race will be a testing ground for the new Macif boat against the established leaders.The Transat Jacques Vabre will be the kick off for a 4 year campaign by the decorated French skipper Francois Gabart, culminating with the solo circumnavigation in 2019.
Length: 30 m
Beam: 21 m
Upwind Sail Area: 430 m2
Downwind Sail Area: 650 m 2
Skippers: Francois Gabart / Pascal Bidégorry
The latest Sodebo trimaran has a true racing pedigree. The product of extensive refits to the record-setting Geronimo, the 2014-launched trimaran had a rocky start, after a collision with a cargo ship caused damaged to the hulls during its first Route du Rhum. The new boat is significantly lighter than the original fully crewed version of Geronimo and is optimized for short-handed sailing. Sodebo also sports the largest sailplan of any of the maxi-trimarans competing in this year’s Transat. Skippers Thomas Coville and Jean-Luc Nélias, have an impressive number of offshore miles between them, including numerous Volvo Ocean Races, with a 2012 win by Colville, and two Jules Verne Trophies.
Length: 31 m
Beam: 21.2 m
Upwind Sail Area: 442 m2
Downwind Sail Area: 662 m2
Designer: VPLP + Sodebo Design Team
Skippers: Thomas Coville / Jean-Luc Nélias
Actual Ultim began as a Sodebo trimaran, but with the acquisition and rechristening of Geronimo for their latest campaign, the boat was sold to the Actual Group. After a quick turnaround and refit, the boat was back on the water under the colors of Actual Ultim just in time to prepare for the Transat. The trimaran is the same length as the new Sodebo Ultim, but much narrower at just 16.5 meters compared to the ex-Geronimo‘s 22. Actual also carries a smaller rig than the other 100-footers in the Ultimate class with nearly 200 square meters less sail area than the smaller Macif. Co-skipper Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant is no stranger to the world of maxi-trimaran sailing as a member of the record breaking crew onboard Lending Club 2.
Length: 31 m
Beam: 16.5 m
Upwind Sail Area: 395 m2
Downwind Sail Area: 500 m2
Designer: Nigel Irens
Skippers: Yves le Blévec / Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant
Prince De Bretagne
The smallest of the trimarans at just 24 meters, the Maxi80 was created by Lionel Lemonchois from the hull of an ORMA 60 in the hopes of taking the proven performance of the class and bringing it to Ultimates. One lengthy and difficult refit later, Prince De Bretagne was competing with an extra 20 feet of waterline. Skippers Lionel Lemonchois and Roland Jourdain have an impressive race resume between them, with several world records onboard maxi-trimarans, numerous offshore race wins – including a previous Transat Jacques Vabre – and several Jules Verne Trophies.
Length: 24 m
Beam: 18.24 m
Upwind Sail Area: 317 m2
Downwind Sail Area: 441 m2
Launched: 2007, refit 2012