A prototype of the world’s first production foiling monohull will hit the water in July

With the Solitaire du Figaro having just kicked off in Bordeaux, France, the Groupe Bénéteau Racing Division is at work creating the heir to the current Figaro Bénéteau 2, the all new Figaro Bénéteau 3 set to step in from 2019.

The prototype of the world’s first production foiling monohull is said to be going from strength to strength in the privacy of the Groupe Bénéteau’s hangars.

Marc Vaillier, head of the programme within Groupe Bénéteau, said: ‘In terms of timing, we’re pretty much on track, give or take a couple of weeks.

‘There are still some additional tweaks, which require a little more time, but we’re managing to stick to our schedule.’

Indeed, all is well with regards the hull of the prototype, on which the first sea trials and balance procedures will be carried out before mass production of this one-design foiling monohull gets underway.

Having been infused, the hull has just had all its bulkheads fitted, the engine’s drive train is in place and the keel reinforcements are in position. The deck, it too infused, is complete and we removed it from the mould at the start of the week. The deck fittings will be installed over the coming week. During this same time frame, the team will dry fit the deck so as to check all the elements conform and the secondary polyester mouldings (engine housing, companionway) are usable.

Infusion of the hull © Jean-Dominique Billaud

Infusion of the hull © Jean-Dominique Billaud

Assembly in June, mast to be stepped in July

The various pieces of the jigsaw are gradually coming out of Groupe Bénéteau’s laboratories.

Marc added: ‘June will be set aside for the assembly and we’re already well down that particular road.

‘The aim remains to lay the definitive deck between 19 and 24 June, in the knowledge that we will likely receive all the peripheral elements relating to the foils a week earlier.’

The keel? With an LOA of 10.85m, the monohull will have her ballast fitted in early July.

The foils? These will be installed the following week, but the guides and sockets will already be in place.

The sails? They have been designed and all that’s left is a discussion to outline the finishing touches between the North Sails sail loft and Yoann Richomme, winner of the 2016 Solitaire Bompard le Figaro and consultant skipper on the prototype as head of the Measurement and Safety Committee within the Figaro Class.

The mast? Everything will be ready for it to be stepped in the third week of July and, all being well, it will be delivered straight to the port – which has not yet been selected, but is sure to be in France’s Vendée region – where the Figaro Bénéteau 3 will be launched.

August and September: two months of tests

The initial sea trials for the very first one-design foiling monohull designed by naval architects Van Peteghem-Lauriot Prévost are scheduled for late July and will run for two months.

The objective: to test everything, particularly the position of the keel in relation to the mast, which will enable the hull structure to be confirmed. Another crucial point that requires validation and requires a long test phase is the position of the hardware, which can be a matter of millimetres. The resulting decisions will influence the positioning of the reinforcements to the deck foam. Finally, a series of solid choices will have to be made about the position of the keel, so as to determine once and for all the exact configuration of the keel housing.

Figaro Bénéteau 3 technical specifications

Start of production early October

The manufacture of the first foiling monohull production yachts in the history of sailing can then finally commence.

Marc added: ‘We have every intention of being in full working order to supply the production line from early October. We’re seeking to release one or two hulls in advance: manufacturing these large polyester composite parts takes time and we must be methodical, which is the key to the tempo if we want to release 1 one-design a week.’

As such, from early October, the Figaro Bénéteau 2 will be at the dawn of her final season of offshore racing before a much-deserved retirement.