Trials nearly complete ~ Launched at the end of July in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie on France’s Atlantic coast, the prototype for the Figaro Bénéteau 3, whose construction required 3,000 man-hours at the Bénéteau site in Cheviré, has since been in her test phase.
Managers from the Bénéteau yard, naval architects, members of the Mer Forte design office and representatives of the Figaro class have all climbed aboard in various conditions to trial the 9.75-metre VPLP design, the first one-design production monohull to be equipped with foils.
This trial period comes to an end in mid-September, enabling the team to make the most of one last week of strong winds to definitively validate a boat that clearly heralds a significant technological breakthrough. “The feedback is very positive. The results are in line with what the naval architect envisaged: the foils provide both additional stability and a phenomenon of lift, which makes the boat very balanced. The gentleness and precision of the helm took everyone by surprise and it’s a very important element with a view to not overloading the autopilots”, notes Eric Ingouf, head of the Figaro 3 programme at Bénéteau.
Over to production!
At the end of this test phase, a second boat will be definitively validated and this will constitute the ‘yardstick’ for the production boat, equipped with the latest developments deemed appropriate following the sea trials. Once this example is complete, mass production will commence on the Cheviré site. “We’re beginning to produce hulls and decks from mid-September, confirms Eric Ingouf. All the boats, which are manufactured between September 2017 and December 2018 will only be delivered to their owners at the end of 2018 in the name of sporting equity with a view to participation in La Solitaire-URGO Le Figaro.” The 50th edition of the famous singlehanded race, in the summer of 2019, will effectively be the first race to be run aboard the Figaro Bénéteau 3.
A production site dedicated to performance
Those in charge of the Figaro 3 programme within the Bénéteau group will have juggled two major projects since the start of 2017: construction of the example delivered in late July and redevelopment of the Cheviré site, the yard that once belonged to Jeanneau Techniques Avancées, where a number of prestigious oceanic multihulls were built in the eighties and nineties (notably Philippe Poupon’s Fleury-Michons and Florence Arthaud’s Pierre-1er de Serbie). “The reasoning behind redeveloping the site, which had become a storage venue, is that we were convinced that a different boat, geared towards performance, could not be manufactured on a conventional production site with the others. An exceptional programme calls for an exceptional venue”, explains Eric Ingouf. Though it will be very busy over the coming months with the mass production of the Figaro Bénéteau 3 one-designs, the Cheviré site, now in full working order, is set up to accommodate other programmes geared towards performance and racing.
The Figaro Bénéteau 3 showcased at the Grand Pavois
The new Figaro Bénéteau 3 will take centre stage in the marine world over the coming weeks. Over the weekend of 23-24 September in La Rochelle, she will be trialled by the European press as she’s one of three boats nominated in the “Special Yachts” category for the “European Yachts of the Year”, a prize awarded in January 2018 at the Düsseldorf boat show. She will then be presented to the international press at Port Ginesta, Spain, in late October, for the brand’s traditional sea trials. Finally, she will be available for public viewing during the Grand Pavois in La Rochelle (27 September-2 October).
The key phases for the Figaro Bénéteau 3:
April 2016 /
The VPLP firm is selected by the Figaro Class to design the new one-design, equipped with foils. Bénéteau supports this decision.
July 2016 /
Bénéteau decides to redevelop the Cheviré site to build this extraordinary boat. The group launches the Bénéteau Racing Division with the construction of the new Figaro Bénéteau 3 its primary objective.
December 2016 – Nautic Paris boat show /
Bénéteau publicly unveils the first 3D views of the Figaro Bénéteau 3.
July 2017 /
Throughout July, the Bénéteau teams work flat out to deliver the prototype in due course and to accommodate the production of the first boats when the schools go back.
Late July 2017 /
The first Figaro Bénéteau 3 hits the water in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie on 27 July.
August 2017 /
A series of tests is carried out off the Vendée coast.
October 2017 /
Following conclusive sea trials, the production of Figaro Bénéteau 3s will commence at the Cheviré yard. These one-designs will be delivered to their owners in late 2018.
First edition of “La Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro’ aboard the Figaro Bénéteau 3.
|Hull length||9.75 m|
|Waterline length||9 m|
|Max beam||3.47 m|
|Light displacement||2 900 kg|
|Large spinnaker area||105 m2|
|Large top rigging spinnaker area||78 m2|
|Gennak code 5||65 m2|
by Anne Gourcuff