Design team unveil plans for l' - a trial boat for the next maxi trimaran

Last week Yacht designer Alain Thébault and part of his team unveiled drawings of l’Hydroptè – a new lab boat which will be a trial platform (on a reduced scale) for the future l’Hydroptère maxi.

Alain Thébault built three models before the existing 60 ft trimaran. Similarly the main purpose of l’Hydroptè will be to test geometries and behaviours in real conditions in order to design the ‘finished product’.

The programmes led by the Hydroptère team are scientific and technological projects, whose purpose is to revolutionize the world of sailing and further develop the innovative concept of flying boats.

Thus the design of l’Hydroptè was focused on the desire to maintain and optimize the equipment related to the boat’s speed and behaviour ‘in flight’ whilst developing points such as versatility and navigation in light winds. These two elements are decisive for l’Hydroptère maxi to attempt oceanic records (Atlantic and Pacific) or Jules Verne’s Trophy around the world.

The geometry of l’Hydroptè is innovative as she is a 35 ft catamaran with a central structural peak and v-shaped foils. She will be equipped with a centerboard to sail with the foils out of the water when conditions are not favourable for ‘take-off’ and no more with only one rear tail unit as on l’Hydroptère but with two rear tail units known as rudder-elevator. This will improve the balance in flight. The rigging was designed so as to meet a wide range of weather conditions.


After crossing the Channel in 2005 faster than Blériot in his plane, l’Hydroptère broke two world speed records in the beginning of 2007, thus showing her combination of reliability and performance.

The concept of l’Hydroptère is simple – lifting up the hulls of the boat through a vertical thrust developed by the foils, which are like sea wings.

Today, Alain Thébault’s ‘flying’ trimaran holds the record for being the fastest sailing craft over one nautical mile, with an average speed of 43.09 knots. The next goal is to cross the legendary 50-knot speed barrier.

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