Baron Edmond de Rothschild's Gitana Team are building a giant maxi multihull for solo and fully crewed round the world racing, one that will fly on foils

Gitana Team, the French race team backed by Baron Edmond de Rothschild is to start build a new giant multihull for racine round the world – one that could fly on foils even when sailed solo.

The build will start later this year and the new boat will launch in 2017.

The move follows a resurgence of interest in the solo round the world record set in 2008 by Francis Joyon in his (now sold) 97ft trimaran IDEC. That record has been attempted unsuccessfully four times by Thomas Colville in the 105ft trimaram Sodeb’O.

The success of, and public interest in, these huge multihulls in last year’s solo Route du Rhum race has given a boost to these giants, with designers and sailors alike reforming their views on what is the righting moment, size and power for a multihull that can be raced alone.

Building a new multihull, most likely a trimaran, and being designed by Guillaume Verdier, gives the Gitana Team a chance to utilise what is being learned about foils, to make a boat that can be sailed conventionally or lift on foils.

To aid in the design development, Gitana Team’s MOD70 is being used as a test bed. Over the course of the winter, the trimaran was kitted out with asymmetric foils (L-foils to port, C-foils to starboard) and some new, more substantial T-foil rudders.

Skipper Sébastien Josse explains: “During the Route du Rhum, the gains observed on the platform were really encouraging, while the T-foil rudders were just one step on the journey towards our goal. Sailing a 70ft trimaran offshore single-handed is already a challenge in itself, but getting her to fly is something else entirely!

“With this 2015 version, we’re entering a whole new dimension; a period of essential fine-tuning and testing for the next stage in Gitana Team’s projects. The theoretical studies and simulations are essential, but they will never be enough on their own as nothing can replace practical time out on the water.

“We’re incredibly lucky to be able to test the architectural possibilities in real situations. There are still so many unknowns about how the new features handle in big seas and over a long distance, that all our sea trials offer us the chance to record invaluable data.”

Verdier’s design team will work closely with American Bobby Kleinschmit, as well as the Pure Design company, all of whom are members of Team New Zealand. Romain Garo, is responsible for the fluid dynamics analysis.

The will be at the Multiplast yard in Vannes, and the company will also be in charge of the project management. Multiplast and the team there have a long and successful history of maxi multihull build projects dating back to the crewed round the world record holders Orange and Orange II.

Meanwhile, Team Gitana’s IMOCA 60 for the 2016 Vendée Globe is also to be launched shortly, for skipper Sébastien Josse.