After a year of construction and the launch in Port-la-Forêt (Britany, France) last week, CORUM L’Épargne, French skipper Nicolas Troussel’s brand new IMOCA, made her first tacks on last Saturday equipped with North Sails to reach her home port of Lorient la Base (Britany, France). The latest foiler designed by Juan Kouyoumdjian and built by Michel Desjoyeaux’s Mer Agitée will soon be fitted with its foils. Nicolas Troussel is looking forward to starting the reliability phase, getting up to speed and familiar with his new boat. Here are the first impressions since the launch.
A Colorful Grand Prix Monohull
“The launch of CORUM L’Épargne was both a great moment and a relief, as we were keen to move on to a new stage in our campaign, to finally be able to sail and test the boat’s performance once the foils are fitted,” expressed Nicolas Troussel, the two-time winner of the Solitaire du Figaro (2006 and 2008), and one of the 37 candidates to take part in the 9th edition of the Vendée Globe. “The boat is in line with what was expected in terms of cockpit ergonomics, deck shape and maneuvers.”
“We’re proud of this boat,” adds Greg Evrard, Director of CORUM L’Épargne project. She is singular, her colors are beautiful and harmonious. There’s not much that hasn’t been thought out in her design. Nicolas was involved in all phases of the project, from hull construction to sail design, to create a boat that resembles him. From the outset, we considered strong biases to respect Nicolas’ choices.
“There’s nothing that has not been thought of for this boat.”
This launch represents a beautiful chapter in our project, which is coming to an end after one year of construction,” continues Greg Evrard. We’re going to write a lot of other pages now. The next essential step is to spend as much time on the water as possible, with priority being given to the boat’s reliability and the validation of the technical choices, including the final inventory of sails by the end of June.”
Also, in June Nicolas will have to complete his qualifying course for the Vendée Globe, a 2,000-mile course off the coast of Brittany, which has to be validated by the race organizers. This will be followed by a first race on the water at the start in Les Sables d’Olonne on 4th July, which should bring together all the racers entered in the Vendée Globe.
Fully Suited with North Sails
CORUM L’Épargne is the latest new generation IMOCA boat to be launched, the eighth since the previous Vendée Globe and the seventh to be equipped with a complete 3Di wardrobe from North Sails. With five and a half months to go before the start of the Vendée Globe, nothing should be left to chance for Nicolas and his team to make the most of this precious time. That is why, right from the start, the team has incorporated a strong time constraint into the project with the aim of strengthening its ability to adapt and its agility. “As far as the sails are concerned, it’s a real upstream preparation work which was done in the initial phases with strong choices made,” explains Evrard. “We anticipated the sailing part, taking into account this time constraint. This first set of sails will enable us to tackle the following stages with serenity.”
The shape of the sails, a crucial parameter for the balance of the boat
Nicolas Troussel has been actively involved with Nicolas Lunven, sailing and boat performance project manager for CORUM L’Épargne in the design of the sails. The first exchanges with Quentin Ponroy and Gautier Sergent of North Sails started a year ago. “Sail design is a subject that interests me and is an integral part of the performance as well as the feeling of the boat when sailing,” says Nicolas Troussel. Even though the boat was still under construction, we used our experience and the tools put in place by the designers. We tried to project our ideas and imagine ourselves on the boat to come up with an inventory of sails that meet all the sailing conditions. It also had to be in line with my sailing style and the Vendée Globe program. All the choices were made with that in mind.”
With the addition of foils, which accelerate the boat, the shape of the sails has become an even more important parameter than before for the boat’s balance,” explains Nicolas Troussel. For the moment, the first impressions are in line with the specifications. The triangulation as well as the shape of the sails are satisfactory. We’ll have to confirm our initial choices with numerous sessions on the water to perfect the sail trim and consequently the boat’s balance. And this selection phase remains tricky even if the set of sails is limited to eight (including the storm jib) and it is all the trickier for downwind sails, which require more complex thinking,” continues Nicolas. Indeed, there are many compromises to be made. Sometimes they are small details, but 10, 20 or 30 meters squared difference between the sails can change the game. It’s on the water that we will definitely validate our selection. We will still have the possibility to adjust, but without considering major modifications.
In the approach to sail design for CORUM L’Épargne, the goal was not to create radical sails that involve a long development on the water,” confirms Quentin Ponroy, designer at North Sails. It was necessary to set a framework to design an efficient first set of sails based on our expertise and know-how.
Serenity, Reliability and Performance
For the moment, Nicolas is feeling rather serene and is looking forward to racing on the water. “I’m not apprehensive, the stress will rise soon enough, and that’s far from being the case today. I’m surrounded by a very competent and quality team, which is reassuring for the preparation for the Vendée Globe. I can’t wait to try out the boat with its foils and get a feel for its behavior, as last year, I sailed on a daggerboard boat, Jean Le Cam’s IMOCA. The sensations are inevitably different.
“During my training sessions with Jean Le Cam, we talked a lot about sail trimming. He had just acquired a set of sails, also designed by North Sails, which enabled me to explore different configurations, reefing, how to handle the sails single-handed and the particularities of sailing in a Vendée Globe. We also focused our attention on the small details that can quickly get out of hand if you’re not careful. It was an enriching learning experience.”
The next few days will be dedicated to structural, systems and gauge testing. Then Nicolas will begin the performance and technical phase alongside experts, Nicolas Lunven for sailing and boat performance, and Sebastien Josse and Thomas Rouxel for technical and sports training.
“Time on the water is the key to this preparation for the Vendée Globe,” concluded Greg Evrard. To date, the start of the Vendée Globe is still scheduled for 8th November and two thirds of the fleet taking part in this solo round the world race without assistance are equipped with North Sails.