François Gabart, the solo non-stop around the world record holder, has unveiled a radical new Ultim giant trimaran with 'fighter jet' helm stations

Francois Gabart, currently the fastest man to sail solo non-stop around the world, has unveiled his latest trimaran, the radical SVR-Lazartigue.

Previously codenamed ‘M101’ the trimaran has taken two and a half years to bring to fruition and yet again shifts the bar on what is considered radical in the giant foiling Ultim class.

The most obvious innovation for the new trimaran is that it has no ‘cockpit’. Instead of a covered or protected cockpit, François Gabart – and his crew on crewed record attempts or races – will sail the boat from inside. 

Launch day for Francois Gabart’s new Ultim trimaran SVR-Lazartigue. Note the steering ‘pods’ in the middle of the flush cockpit roof Photo: Maxime Horlaville

Besides foil developments and the ongoing search for hydrodynamic improvements, François Gabart’s team has placed huge emphasis on the search for aerodynamic improvements. While some of the other Ultims have retro-fitted panels to improve aero efficiency, SVR-Lazartigue has been designed for flight from the outset.

Key to this is the integration of the cockpit and living space within the central hull. Within the 5m2 central hull there are three main areas: a ‘cockpit’ to manoeuvre and steer the boat, a small galley space, and storage for sails etc. The cabin roof sits almost flush with the main arms and trampoline for minimum drag.

Giant curved foils and hydraulic controls on the SVR-Lazartigue Ultim Photo: Maxime Horlaville

Visibility forward is created via two fighter-jet style forward facing pods or ‘bubbles’, with a sliding access hatch – just like those on a military jet. The helmsman will be protected by a windscreen when sailing at high speeds – many Ultim skippers wear goggles to enable them to look into the wind and any spray.

François Gabart and his crew will only go on deck for essential repairs, and manoeuvres such as some sail changes. Like Alex Thomson’s most recent Hugo Boss IMOCA 60, which also employed an inside cockpit, there will be exterior cameras to view on deck and around the trimaran.

The ‘fighter jet’ style helm stations on Francois Gabart’s new Ultim

Also like a fighter jet, the trimaran has adopted a radical new control system, developed in-house. Five times smaller than the usual 1.5m-diameter wheel, the new SVR-Lazartigue trimaran will be flown with a compact 30cm wheel tucked into the cockpit, along with other foili and sail controls.

MerConcept founder and SVR-Lazartigue skipper Francois Gabart Photo: Maxime Horlaville

François Gabart explained: “It’s a new way to sail. It will probably rely more on sounds and movements. We will be able to go very quickly, while being protected from an apparent wind which can reach 120 kmph. 

“This configuration should allow us to go even faster on the water. Under certain conditions, the speed gain is going to be enormous. What is certain is that we can go 10 to 15% faster. Over a day, that can represent 200 km…”

The internal cockpit will also give Gabart or crew additional protection in the event of a capsize.

Additional aerodynamic gains have come from careful fairing of everything from the communications antennae to the propeller. Like Thomas Coville’s Sodebo, which moved the cockpit forward of the mast, the integral cockpit allows the boom to sit very flush to the deck, creating a very aerodynamic end-plating effect for improved sail efficiency.

Over 150,000 hours, some 40 months of work and around 20 local companies were involved in the project, which built by Gabart’s MerConcept company in Concarneau, where it was unveiled yesterday as launched this Thursday in Concarneau.

Integral fairings on the forward beams and super slim hull forms for maximum aero and hydrodynamic efficiency Photo: Maxime Horlaville

Halfway through the build, Gabart’s sponsors of his winning Vendée Globe campaign and successful around the world solo record with his previous Ultime, Macif, announced that they would not continue to back him. However, he has since secured the backing of a French cosmetics firm, Kresk, and was able to complete the build.

Design was a joint project between VPLP and MerConcept’s in-house team, with GSEA Design and CDK Technologies working on the floats, front and rear arms, and foils. Multiplast built the central hull, C3 Technologies the centreboard and rudders. Sails are by North Sails for the sails with a Lorima mast.

Low profile from bow to stern with the two ‘fighter jet’ pods just visible abaft the foil Photo: Maxime Horlaville

François Gabart said on launch day: “This boat is exclusively designed for offshore flight. We are living an extraordinary revolution and we do not know how far it can take us. Everything is possible and we have no limits, the trimaran SVR-Lazartigue embodies this approach. ”

After sea trials, Gabart’s first race with SVR-Lazartigue will be the transatlantic Transat Jaques Vabre, which starts from Le Havre on November 7th. Next year will be Route du Rhum, building up the single-handed around the world race for Ultims in 2023.

If you enjoyed this….

Yachting World is the world’s leading magazine for bluewater cruisers and offshore sailors. Every month we have inspirational adventures and practical features to help you realise your sailing dreams.
Build your knowledge with a subscription delivered to your door. See our latest offers and save at least 30% off the cover price.