Congratulations François!

By Richard
Michel Desjoyeaux congrats François Gabart after VG 2012-Arrival

Michel Desjoyeaux congrats François Gabart - Photo (c) Vincent Durutchet/DPPI/Vendée Globe

He did it! With his victory at the first attempt in the Vendée Globe on Macif, François Gabart has gone down in ocean-racing legend in a big way.

Look at the facts: at 29, the youngest ever winner of the race, during which, incidentally, he smashed the 24-hour distance record at 534.49 miles with an average speed of 22.27 knots (official WSSRC  time), and passed two of the race capes (Leeuwin and Horn) in the lead, establishing new reference times in both cases. Lastly, 78 days, 2 hours, 16 minutes and 40 seconds later, he came in under Jules Verne’ mythical time of 80 days, unabashedly beating the record set by his mentor Michel Desjoyeaux at 84 days, 3 hours, 9 minutes and 8 seconds!

An impressive performance for this sailor from Charentes, crowning a frantic race noted for his extraordinary duel with Armel Le Cleac’h (Banque Populaire), a real race within a race watched with bated breath by the whole sailing world. Barring one or two moments, the two sailors battled for head position, leaving the rest of the fleet a considerable distance behind. Shortly before Cape Horn, François Gabart finally snatched the lead, but the fight continued right to the end, with Armel confirming his reputation for not giving up the fight before the finishing line. François was able to make the right tactical choices, closely analyzing the weather reports to take advantage of the least depression to build his victory. His natural zeal, along with the disciplined method inherited from his INSA engineering background, allowed him to emerge victorious from this planetary duel.

A duel that was fratricidal right down to the boat construction, since the two 60-foot monohulls MACIF and Banque Populaire were very similar, having been designed by naval architects VPLP – Verdier with the assistance of specialized consultants Mer Forte, under the delegated project management of Mer Agitée. Mer Forte uses Dassault Systèmes 3D solutions. Indeed, Banque Populaire is none other than the former Foncia, designed in record time (less than six months!), which François knows well, since he sailed it with Michel Desjoyeaux in the last Barcelona World Race. Launched barely a year later, MACIF had evolved from it, taking advantage of the lesson learned with its forebear. The basis is the same, namely the 3D digital mock-up whose power and agility helped improve and optimise the 60-footer that François has just sailed to victory at Les Sables d’Olonne. The virtually unchallenged domination of the lead by the two monohulls underlines the validity of the technical choices made possible by Dassault Systèmes’ 3D design and simulation software. That is probably what allowed the two skippers to fight it out closely during this round-the-world tour.

Macif evolved from the earlier boat that we designed in record time as part of Dassault Systèmes’ Passion for Innovation program” recalls Denis Juhel, Technical Director of boat design consultants Mer Forte.

We drew on the lessons learned with Foncia/Banque Populaire to make further improvements in the boat’s potential in terms of speed and reliability. Having the 3D digital model and the 3DEXPERIENCE platform was obviously an enormous advantage, since we were starting from a model that was already born, from which we could take and improve each element by testing each modification virtually.”

As for the battle for the lead in the race: “The keen jousting between François and Armel confirms the choices we made at Mer Forte: design and calculations carried out with talent by two outstanding sailors! All the teams at Mer Forte and Mer Agitée are proud to have been part of these fine projects with Dassault Systèmes!”

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