Unveiled on Monday in a video made at dawn a few days earlier, the new Charal 2, a Manuard design built at CDK Technologies in Lorient, will actually be launched on Monday. And so a good opportunity for Tip & Shaft to talk to its skipper, Jérémie Beyou, who is presenting his new Imoca.
► Let’s go back first of all to the genesis of Charal 2, what were the specifications and did the last Vendée Globe influence your choices?
► Were you too radical with Charal 1?
It’s not naïve to admit that, but these foilers were so new that it was difficult to know exactly how it was going to be in the Indian solo, in 35 knots downwind. Since then we have sailed and all the dynamic simulation models have progressed well, but inevitably, when we look at the initial version of Charal 1, we can actually say that it was a little too radical for the course. We quickly realized this, and during the two years before the Vendée Globe, we tried to iron out the small defects as much as we could, in particular by reducing the weight, modifying the bow , the weights of ballast and ballast, by putting the weight aft, we have really made good progress on the behaviour and control of the boat.
► Have you studied many shapes of hulls?
We started from the two base hulls we knew, Charal 1 for us and L’Occitane for Sam, we tried to identify the qualities and defects of the two concepts. We also studied something wider, more cubic, we thought of making a “bustle” [sort of hull under the hull, like on the AC75s in the America’s Cup, editor’s note], a bit like we had started to do so on Charal 1 but more markedly at the back. Dozens of hulls are passed through the system It’s quite surprising, because we are in the era of foils, and in the end, it is on the hull that we have worked the most. As we are not yet at just flying boats, you really have to manage to take care of the initial power to get up and make sure, then, not to stop too much when you come back down on the water, the hull remains an element which is super important in the Imoca.
“A very rectangular boat”
► Can you describe the essentials shapes of Charal 2, especially compared to Charal 1?
It is a really very rectangular boat, from the transom to four meters from the bow. Then, we are almost on the maximum width of the foredeck, it is much narrower on Charal 1. Seen from the side, we have the spatula at the front which is very pronounced; combined with the fact that the boat is quite narrow, it gives the impression of a real scow, I think we were quite radical in this area, the boat has a particular profile, I think there won’t be two boats like this. And the transom is very different, we have a lot more static hull power on the 2 than on the 1. Otherwise, the idea was to centre and move weight back as much as possible, especially the deckhouse, with a cockpit still smaller than on Charal 1, it gives a deck profile like a kind of airstrip and in terms of aero, it’s not so bad.
► A word about your cockpit, which is not completely closed unlike others ?
Yes, it’s a bit like the same concept as on Charal 1, I like to stick my head out a bit and above all I like to have the most complete view of what is happening on deck. As we are all on the idea of lowering the center of gravity as much as possible, the cockpit is as low as the rule allows us, but – I had noticed this when visiting L’Occitane – it is more airy than on Charal 1 on which we had a lot of blind spots, so we have better forward vision. As for the coachroof it’s the same as L’Occitane.
► What were the choices in terms of foil geometry ?
The foils are now starting to all have roughly the same geometry. What will differentiate them is your desire to sail with a more or less flat boat. For us, the idea is to stall as little as possible, that’s why our foils are a little V-shaped, they regulate themselves a little bit with height, the objective is to sail quite flat. We tried not to lose too much on the upwind or reaching speeds but we have chosen the geometry of the foils which seemed to us the most suited to the Vendée Globe course.
► Is a second pair already planned?
Yes, we have an ongoing study. We need to sail the boat before choosing the exact timing, but ideally it would be good to have one fairly quickly, especially since we don’t have a spare foil in case of breakage.
“It’s super good to have
Franck (Camams) by our side”
► What performance gains are you hoping for over Charal 1 ?
It’s hard to say until we’ve sailed, but downwind in heavy seas, normally there were important questions of stability and attitude of the boat. With the previous boats, you couldn’t get more than 17 knots downwind in 25 knots, it was hard! Now if we manage to hold on to even 23 knots, the gains will be colossal !
► Do you think that you will be able to perform well on the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe ?
Four months to prepare a new boat is never enough, but I am convinced that we will have a competitive boat at the start of the Rhum. The idea is to go there to achieve a result. We were lucky enough to keep Charal 1 until the last moment, which allowed us to have two teams, one dedicated to the construction of the second boat and the other of sailors who continued to operate the first . So much so that we have never stopped. We are ready and all set up to start Charal 2, there has not been the transition that we experienced four years ago, we are going to lose much less time, it’s really a big asset.
► Speaking of sailors how has your team evolved?
Yes, our path has separated with Chris (Christopher Pratt) with whom we had a long and beautiful history and who is about to set up his own Vendée Globe project. We welcomed Kevin Bloch at the beginning of the year, he takes charge of all the performance part of Charal 2, replacing Nicolas Andrieu who is now the head of the design office. And we are working with Franck (Cammas). He has this rare ability to have a technical input and very high level design ideas, while being one of the best sailors around, crewed or solo. He is on it all the time, on top of everything with him nothing is forgotten. To the point that at one point, you say to yourself: “That’s a hell of a lot to take in, but he will know how to refine things, depending on what is important. In hydropower, in engineering, in construction, he is unbeatable, it’s really super good to have him by our side on the design part, I leave it to him to announce his own programme but we hope he will find time to support us on our development.
► What will become of Charal 1?
The boat is being sold to client who will announce his program in the coming weeks.
► You finished second in the Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race and the Vendée Arctique, each time behind Charlie Dalin. What is your assessment of these races and how do you explain Charlie’s domination? Is it all about his large foils?
To be second twice in a row on a boat on which we have hardly done any development this year is actually very satisfying. As for Charlie if he wins, it’s because he’s super good and he relies on a team that is developing a reliable boat for him. Beyond that at certain speeds, upwind and at marginal and medium speeds, the size of the foils is critical – and you have to remember that it’s in the rule – you can’t beat it because the boat takes off earlier. On Charal 2, we have optimized the hull and the profile of the foils, but at some point, we are stuck to these speeds with the 8 m3 rule compared to Apivia, Bureau Vallée, but also Arkéa Paprec which benefit from the grandfather clause. That’s why you have to really rack your brains to manage to make boats that go faster !
Photo: Maxime Horlaville – PolaRYSE / Charal