Team Arkema Lalou Multi: high ambitions for the 2018 season
Multi50 Arkema overhauled and optimized
After it was ferried back from Brazil by cargo ship following the victory of Lalou Roucayrol and Alex Pella in the Transat Jacques Vabre, the Multi50 Arkema has been undergoing a refit since mid-February in Port-Médoc.
“Above all we had to carry out a thorough check of the structural condition of the boat and the ageing of the materials. We haven’t found anything troublesome despite the new type of stress induced by the foils during the 2017 season. Our Multi50 is fit and sound in terms of structure, which is reassuring for the future”, stated Lalou.
Apart from this inspection, this winter refit is also a perfect time to optimize the boat, which is constantly evolving. The fittings and the standing rigging have been overhauled, new sails with optimized profiles have been fitted, and power management has been improved with the installation of solar panels and a wind turbine to supply all the energy needed. What’s more, a new system to save time in charging the lithium batteries is now also in place.
“This makes sense in terms of weight and it’s a fair objective for the Multi50 class to opt for renewable energies. We feel it’s important to lead the movement”, comments Lalou on these modifications.
The last job of the refit work has entailed the upgrade of the onboard electronics and I.T. equipment. “It’s a key feature when you sail on your own”, explains Lalou, as the team has to build up its data acquisition in the navigation system and optimize the automatic pilot. The boat is due to be refloated end of March.
Looking ahead to the Route du Rhum
This various optimization work will result in a 100% efficient boat for the 2018 season, the highlight being the Route du Rhum race, due to set off from Saint-Malo on 4 November. Lalou has actually already planned solo training sessions so he can be in optimum shape and fully in tune with his exacting sailing craft.
A new organization for the team
2018 will also mean a few changes for Team Arkema Lalou Multi. Quentin Vlamynck, skipper of the Arkema 3 Mini 6.50 until now, is working his way through the ranks by becoming boat captain of the Multi 50 and therefore “the right-hand man” of Lalou Roucayrol. “My new role consists in managing the technical side of the boat, maintenance, relations with suppliers ... In short, the idea is to ease Lalou’s mind”, explains Quentin.
He will also be sailing regularly alongside Lalou Roucayrol when ferrying the boat and also “false solo” training, and will make the most of this experience to further improve his skills on the Multi50.
Quentin will also have to handle the hand-over of the Mini 6.50 to Raphaël Lutard, its new skipper! Born in the Bassin d’Arcachon area, 22 year old Raphaël is preparing to take up this huge challenge while discovering solo ocean racing. He has a solid experience in the Laser and in the Open 5.70, and excellent knowledge of the Mini, as he followed its construction and assisted Quentin Vlamynck in preparing for the Mini Transat.
“It’s a major turning point for me and a leap into the unknown. I’m not stressed but rather I feel positively excited. It’s going to be a great journey of discovery”, Raphaël says eagerly.
His first race in early April will be the Plastimo Lorient Mini 6.50 (250 miles double-handed with Quentin). This will be followed by three further races, before the highlight of the 2018 season, namely the Les Sables-Les Açores-Les Sables (2600 miles). Next year, he will take up the major challenge of the Mini Transat.
Meanwhile, the Mini 6.50 is also undergoing a refit involving necessary thorough checks and maintenance on this floating laboratory. The boat’s overall weight is being reduced and the rudders are being redesigned to minimize drag from the water. So the idea is to limit obstacles to performance. The boat is due to be refloated by the end of March. An exciting 2018 season is about to begin!