Visible elements of modernity

Certainly one of the big events of the last Paris Boat Show was the unveiling of the next-generation Figaro 3 one-design. The VPLP foil-equipped solo machine is expected to be up to 15 per cent faster than its valiant predecessor, and will also be built at the newly refurbished Jeanneau Techniques Avancées site, of Fleury Michon VIII and Groupe Pierre 1er fame. Jocelyn Blériot caught up with Vincent Lauriot-Prévost to get more of the detail

'We knew that the boat would be up for a revamp and that Bénéteau would invite proposals, but neither they nor we had any preconceived idea of what we would put forward,’ Vincent explains. ‘Before being handed the brief we did not spend time thinking about it, nor did we try to be on the lookout for potential clues. We waited patiently for the class and the yard to come up with their requirements.

‘It was a quick process, and once given the brief we had three weeks to submit our proposal: the first step was to really understand what the stakeholders wanted to achieve with the new one-design. We called Yann Eliès and Pascal Bidégorry, with whom we have a good relationship and whose insights are invaluable, to see if they’d help us think through the conception phase. Only then did we take to the drawing board to turn our choices into a coherent project.

‘It seemed clear that the Figaro class put the emphasis on a boat that could be relevant and up to date for as long as 10 years after its launch… which means that we needed to project ourselves to 2030, give or take, considering the Figaro 3 will enter service in 2019. It’s not a small challenge.’

Asked whether, to his knowledge, other design offices had also teamed up with sailors for advice, Vincent says: ‘Three teams were selected – Mer Forte, Conq/Manuard and ourselves. Mer Forte, being Michel Desjoyeaux’s company, naturally benefits from strong racing experience, and for the Pascal Conq-led effort Sam Manuard brought his considerable on-the-water expertise and design skills.’

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