Interview with Quentin Lucet and Vincent Lauriot-Prévost (VLVP)
New architectural competition
The 8 new boats of the 2020 generation are divided between 4 architects: VPLP design (3), Juan Kouyoumdjian (2), Guillaume Verdier (2), Sam Manuard (1). And that changes everything: “ The challenge takes on a different dimension,” Vincent Lauriot-Prévost. "Before you had to do the best we could this year you must be better than others. The choices we made can be questioned, it's exciting, but less comfortable! ”
“ We did not know what the other teams were doing when we started working on Charal and HUGO BOSS", Vincent Lauriot-Prévost, "so we had to take risks. Otherwise the pitfall was to make an average boat, and that we could not afford". "Hence a radical change in approach was made in terms of design:" "We took responsibility for our choices," Quentin Lucet. "The 2008 and 2012 generations embodied the quest for power and lightness, the 2016 foilers were meant to be a compromise, with foil boats capable of returning to dagger boards if the foils did not work. For 2020, we developed hulls that only work with their foils. In other words, the quest for less drag has replaced the quest for horsepower. We weren't shy and it was good, it was the specification from the teams of Jérémie Beyou and Alex Thomson. ”
A new relationship with the teams
With three projects in the portfolio - Charal, HUGO BOSS and DMG Mori, sistership of Charal - VPLP design has been able to concentrate its efforts duringthis Vendée Globe cycle. "With half the number of boats at the start this year (compared to VLVP designs late VG), we were able to set up much more focused support,” confirms Quentin Lucet. "The level of exchange is better, as is the climate of trust, we sail more often with them… A few days before the ferry to Les Sables, we were still on board Charal. It allows a continuity which is very rich. Adrien Letourneur," the VPLP design engineer in charge of performance on Jérémie Beyou's project “was almost full-time at Charal, underlines Vincent Lauriot-Prévost. "This happened very rarely before.”
An ever higher technical level and performance
This new level of exchange with the teams is all the more necessary as the boats demand it. “ The teams are more demanding and their design offices are growing,” says Quentin Lucet. "Between 2005 and 2016, the time devoted to architectural design and structure has multiplied by 5. And for this Vendée Globe 2020, it has increased by another 50%! As for studies, they doubled in duration: 6 months against 3 during the previous cycle. Conclusion: the jump in performance promises to be greater than the usual progress between each Vendée Globe cycle." Quentin Lucet thus figures the performance gains of new foilers between 70 and 100 ° of true wind" between 20 and 30% compared to their predecessors ".
New, very powerful tools
Each Vendée Globe cycle sees the development of new tools: “ It has evolved for 12 years" Vincent Lauriot-Prévost, "the novelty for VPLP design is that we are now developing them (tools) internally, with Gurit (specializes in advanced composites) in support for structural analysis. In the same room, we have all the specialists, which allows us a much greater responsiveness and agility. Now equipped with its own simulator, "SYD," and also with very precise VPP and enhanced calculation capacities, the agency can go into great detail. We are now able to study the functioning of a foil much more precisely, because we know how to calculate its deformation, its twist, and the modifications of the profile that go with it.," Quentin Lucet. "The same goes for the optimizations of existing (older) boats: “ Thanks to the simulator, we have a much clearer notion of how the improvements we propose work. Performance gains and dynamic behavior are much better quantified than before . ” MACSF (formerly Safran / Queguiner) and SeaExplorer Yacht Club de Monaco (formerly Edmond de Rothschild), which have been the subject of significant optimizations - in particular new foils - have directly benefited.
The role of the skippers remains predominant
The continuous progress of the machines does not prevent the role played by the skipper from remaining an essential parameter in the performance, on this Vendée Globe perhaps even more than before: “ The race will highlight the ability of the sailors to exploit their boats," predicts Vincent Lauriot-Prévost. "There are a lot of parameters to be mastered in order to reach the right compromise in terms of settings and performance, we reach such complexity that the bonus of time spent sailing before the race will be even greater than before. I think they will get closer to 100%" (of polars), Vincent Lauriot-Prévost, "because the (auto)pilots are much better than before." Quentin Lucet is betting on 2 to 4 days better than the time achieved by Armel Le Cléac'h in 2016-2017 (74 days 3 hours 35 minutes and 46 seconds). “ VPPs give a run time of 65 to 70 days at 100% of polars. But we are always more surprised by the performance of the skippers in the real world than by our simulations! ”