Gautier Sergent, North Sails designer, recently met up with the Transat bakerly fleet as it finished in New York City. Sergent had helped design new 3Di sails for several teams, helping each singlehanded sailor pick the best possible inventory based on the type of boat, skipper’s experience and preferred modes, predicted routing, and of course computer-aided design and VPP analysis. And with eighteen boats in four classes (Ultime, IMOCA 60, Multi 50, and Class 40) sailing over 3,000 miles from England, it was a great opportunity to see how the new sails lived up to durability and performance expectations. “It is always best to debrief right upon arrival to get unbiased first impressions,” Sergent said during a recent interview. “Rewind and redo the race with all the key moments: where the boat performed and where it did not, compared to others.”
Sergent also wanted to assist with any service that might be required, since many of the boats were quickly heading back across the Atlantic, either as part of the New York-Vendée Race or to attempt a North Atlantic record. And with the start of the ultimate solo race, the Vendée Globe, less than five months away, “the Transat bakerly is one of the last big events before the Vendée Globe for the IMOCA and the Jules Verne for some Ultimes.”
Overall, Sergent was happy with the feedback he received. “The new sails we made matched expectations—how the sailors were hoping they would use them and how they would perform. Our upcoming downwind product 3Di FORCE has made a very strong impact on the maxi tris and IMOCAs. It retains deeper angle performance, while offering better acceleration and more potential to sail tighter angles.”
And now Sergent will take this data back to the drawing board and share with the rest of the design team, material engineers, and R&D lab. “Interpret the results, project this onto the next race, etc…” At the end of the day, client impressions help create and improve these designs and each is tailor made to suit. “The latest layout updates seem a good improvement, thanks to field feedback.”
It’s important to be involved from the start of each project, Sergent explains. “The teams enjoy our expertise and our involvement right from the beginning of the design of the boat, giving us a unique understanding of how the boat works and what the skipper expects.” And the sailors appreciate the proven track record in performance and durability that North 3Di offers. “We have powered every single major IMOCA race win since 2011: Barcelona, Vendée Globe, Route du Rhum, Transat Jacques Vabres… Same with the Ultime.”
Of the Ultimes, Coville on Sodebo recently broke the 24 hour solo sailing distance record: 714 nautical miles. The Ultime MACIF is on stand by for a North Atlantic/24 hour record attempt, while the IMOCA 60s have just finished their return sprint across the Atlantic as part of the inaugural New York-Vendee Race, their last chance to qualify for the Vendée Globe. The Class 40 and Multi 50 will do the Quebec / St Malo race next. Then, Sergent says, “We will have more debrief and analysis before the sprint to the start of the Vendée Globe or Jules Verne, to confirm the choices and final sail inspection.” Records may fall, but for this sail designer, the learning never ends.