Last week has seen a boat launch of the superlatives. The long expected new design of renown bureau VPLP and the much anticipated “re-definition” of IMOCA 60-class racing yachts has hit the waters. The all new CHARAL by French Charal sailing team under the command of pro-skipper Jeremie Beyou had her roll out from the yard´s construction site at CDK technologies of Port-de-la-Foret near Quimper at the French Atlantic coast.

Look at those massive foils: Heart of CHARAL´s construction

And since the pictures had been published the sailing world went nuts over the design. Let´s have a closer look at Beyou´s racing yacht. It is an IMOCA 60 boat constructed under the rules of the class, VPLP has been briefed by Jeremie Beyou to try a completely new approach: “The boat has been designed solely around the new foils”, states naval architect Daniele Capua of VPLP design: “We wanted to take another step forward compared to the old IMOCA-designs.” And judging from the pictures: They were successful!

Jeremie Beyou is a thoroughbred single hand yacht racer

Jeremie Beywou is a pro-skipper born back in 1976. He is no rookie to the scene: He has been finishing third in the last Vendeé Globe in MAITRE COQ and it is no exaggeration calling him a star of French solo sailing. He is indeed a three time winner of renown French Solitaire du Figaro-series and Just arrived back from this year´s Volvo Ocean Race edition aboard DONGFENG as Watch Captain. Now he tackles another Vendeé Globe and the new CHARAL is his weapon of choice.

The sleek lines of the CHARAL Imoca are tempting indeed!

The boat is made by CDK Technologies, a special purpose company that owns one of Europe´s bigges autoclaves. They are specialized in high-tech composite materials and such the perfect choice for making CHARAL – the most advanced IMOCA 60 monohull to date. Other than her predecessors in the class which had been retrofitted with foils, CHARAL has been made just to support the foils: “We chose to make foils that are strong to get a maximum power and lift for the foiling effect.“, says Beyou.

Notice the extremely protected cockpit and the doghouse/dodger

He adds: „The shaft is very long as is the tip and has a double surface and angled elbow, which highlights the visual impact. They are reasonably thick too because we are going to put quite a lot of arching pressure on the tips. If the boat appears really wide, it is because we can’t raise both foils at the same time: One of them will always be lowered.“ The strong angular design, the almost thin appeal of the wide stern and of course the new bow-design are the most dramatic changes of classic IMOCA-designs.

Very sleek thin stern, again, massive foils!

Knowing that the class rules for the hull design doesn’t allow the boat in the end to come out of water for a full flight, the idea was to squeeze out maximum power generated by the massive foils and reduce drag as much as possible: “This means we have a very innovative hull with a Dreadnaught bow that is rounded and with a closed transom.”, specifies Beyou.

Conceived for maximum lift with minimum drag

Looking at the pictures we are getting an idea of the efforts put into CHARAL´s conception: Just look at those massive foils and the comparatively thin (but hopefully strong) canting keel. Another key aspects are mentioned by Beyou: “The transom is completely different to anything we have seen before in the IMOCA class. The bow has had a lot streamlining to reduce the amount of carbon and gain on weight. We have pushed the boundaries to the maximum with one exception, allowing me room to maneouver on the foredeck.”

Finally hitting the waters: CHARAL´s launching day

As CHARAL was hitting the water finally, the whole crew of the sailing team was in full celebration mode. She is a beauty and a beast in one person, one could say. But it is not just her outward appearance that is new and partially revolutionary, as one of the VPLP-designers puts out: “Jeremie’s brief put both the living and work areas was very specific. It became apparent that his wishes would affect the centre of gravity and so we had to adapt. We have now designed a boat where the skipper can spend the part of time in the cockpit and virtually reach everything without moving: The winches, the helm, the chart table and the galley. The idea is to go below the least amount of times needed. Jeremie will be outside permanently but in a protected area from both the wind and the water thanks to the non-retractable coach roof.” Imagine this prospect in the Roaring Fourties …

See the protected cockpit/dodger-area – most of the time Jeremie will spend here

Controlling a racing yacht like this single handed is a huge task. Controlling this boat at speeds of around 40 knots in seas like these found in the permanent violent turmoil of the Souther Oceans is something that for most of us is inconceivable. Jeremie Beyou has added another component to CHARAL that should make her unique: “All elements supporting important loads – the rig, the appendages – has sensors with optic fibre sending back information in real time to my navigation console to then be treated by software that gives me the right reading of the situation. However, unlike in Formula 1 car racing, this information is not relayed to shore. I am the only one who can access this and therefore am then able to act manually as needed.”

All the best for Vendeé Globe 2020 to the CHARAL Sailing Team!

It is a tempting boat, a sexy beast and one could not wish for a better sponsor of the project as the Charal company, a French manufacturer of high quality beef. This “beefy” yacht will now be brought to full life: All equipment will be installed and the boat gets rigged. Jeremie and his dedicated team will bring the boat to Lorient where the base of the team is situated and prepare the yacht for serious racing. Although: “We know that the boat that goes in the water today is not the boat that will be racing on the Vendée Globe. We have two years to make this IMOCA, the first to be designed for and around foils, a real rocket ship for the Vendée Globe.” We wish them all the best – and I promise, next time I´ll be around in LA BASE in Lorient, I will knock at sailing team CHARAL´s doors …


Love racing yachts? Try these articles:

Solo sailing an IMOCA 60: Interview with Lizzy Foreman

Most sexy racing yacht to date: Mark Mills Vismara V62 SUPERNIKKA

Lorient´s LA BASE – the heart of French yacht racing


Pictures with kind permission by and under the copyright (c) of Yvan Zedda / ALeA / Charal