North Sails NEWS

THE ULTIMES AT THE 2021 ROLEX FASTNET RACE: TEAM ACTUAL 

Skipper Yves Le Blevec and Team Actual Aim for Victory

Team Actual

After an ankle injury that required a few weeks onshore to recover, French Brittany-based skipper Yves Le Blevec is eager to get back on the helm of his trimaran Actual Ultim 3 (formerly Francois Gabart’s Macif) for the Rolex Fastnet Race. While he wasn’t able to sail, he continued to gather information from his sailing team, which includes: Anthony Marchand, co-skipper of the Transat Jacques Vabre; Yoann Richomme, skipper of the V065 Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team; Hugo Kerhascoët, in charge of Actual Ultim 3‘s electronic foil regulation systems; Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant, historical specialist of Maxi Trimarans; Amélie Grassi, sailor; and Anne-Kristell Jouan, mediaman.

 “It’s great to be back on the boat and prepare to compete on the water,” says Le Blevec. “I feel 100% confident in my ability to be onboard, thanks to the extraordinary work by the medical team at the Kerpape Center in Morbihan.”

Last April, the trimaran was relaunched under the Team Actual colors after a five-month refit. To familiarize himself with the new boat, Le Blevec committed to a handful of sailing sessions with the boat’s former skipper François Gabart. “Watching the way François sails is very instructive. You learn something new every day because we don’t operate in the same way. We know how these complex machines work. But the principle of performance is to constantly question and challenge ourselves. This allows us to constantly evaluate what we know. With Mer Concept, who designed this boat, we have defined a feedback program to evaluate performance. When we return from the Fastnet, we will have some joint training sessions with SVR Lazartigue to compare the data from the two boats.”

 

 

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The changes made to the trimaran since she was acquired are minimal, Le Blevec adds. “This boat is a well thought-out design. So we followed the roadmap set out by the previous team to develop the new daggerboard and a new central rudder. There will be some progress, but no major revolution. As we sail, we’ll see how to get the most out of the boat. There are still some subtleties to discover. After the Fastnet, we could change the galley space for the crew, because right now it’s very confined.”

The boat was delivered with a set of sails in good condition, notes Le Blevec. “Like the boat, we didn’t make any major modifications to the sails. We spent a lot of time with North designers Alan Pennaneach and Quentin Ponroy, to review each sail and their history, according to the specifications initially set up with MerConcept. The mainsail had been modified for the Transat, and we completed those modifications.” 

For the Fastnet, they were still deciding which headsail to use. “We have two J1s, one that is tucked inside the mainsheet and the other on the draft point of the J2, and we will have to choose which of these we will take onboard for the race. We will also have to think about it before the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre next November. For that, we need to log miles, which will allow us to identify the gaps depending on the weather conditions. We have some ideas for modifications, but there is no need to change the sails for the moment.” 

Compared to his previous Ultime, Le Blevec notes a real gain in performance at certain points of sail: “We have entered another mode of navigation! Her target speed upwind in a 25-knot wind can reach 27-28 knots on foils. The crew has already experienced sequences of flying at 40 knots, with a peak of 44 knots. It’s exciting.” He also observes that in heavy seas, the boat is more fluid and hits the waves much less than his old trimaran. 

“There are still a lot of adjustments to be made, but we are excited to be sailing against the other competitors,” Le Blevec says. “Alone in training it’s always difficult to evaluate your performance, especially since these Ultimes are by nature very fast machines.”

The Rolex Fastnet Race remains a classic among classics, he concludes, and it’s always a pleasure to return, even if there can be only one winner in the end. According to him, the finish in Cherbourg, France, represents a great demonstration of freedom from borders. “The course is significantly longer, even if it remains short for the Ultimes. But to complete the Fastnet in just 24 hours is an extraordinary thing.” 

North Sails equips three Ultimes taking part in the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race. We spoke to the crews about their project, the evolution of their boat and sails, as well as their Fastnet training program and their expectations for this edition. You can access our other stories via the links below.

Edmond de Rothschild     Sodebo     Other Fastnet Stories

Team Actual trimaran Ultim 3
📸 Thomas Deregnieaux
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