Home straight for Club Med
Assembled in February 2000, Club Med's platform is currently receiving its finishing touches. Work on spars, appendages and sails is progressing in parallel. The 33-m (110-ft) catamaran, to be co-skippered by Grant Dalton (NZ), will be completely finished within a month.
About 600 m² of carbon have been faired, sanded and at the moment are being sprayed. This means working with a maximum of cleanliness in the entire yard to avoid dust. Club Med's livery is sky blue and white with, for a figurehead, a female swimmer painted on each bow.
Secret options and minimum comfort
The Multiplast technicians are finishing fitting out the interior, before installing the electronics and electrical systems. The hardware is also being fitted. Winches and blocks, chosen "off the shelf", use tried and tested mechanisms. These final stages are being used by Grant and his technical manager, Frenchman Jean Maurel, to influence a multitude of essential "details" – thus applying their "hallmark" to this generic design from the Gilles Ollier Design Team. Strict confidentiality now surrounds the operations in order to guarantee the specificity of each of the three catamarans being built by Multiplast for The Race. Suffice to say that Grant is imposing a rather Spartan approach to ocean racing – comfort is reduced to the bare minimum.
The compression beam (longitudinal beam projecting forwards from the foot of the mast) is finished. This 15.50-m (50.9-ft) carbon item has to absorb considerable loads, because it is used to fly a huge, 450 m² genaker from its extremity. Multiplast has innovated by building it in one piece, instead of two sections (one each side of the forward beam) as on Explorer (26 m / 85 ft) or even PlayStation (32.5 m / 105 ft).
Also in Vannes, the half shells of the 41.5-m (136-ft) wing mast will soon be assembled, and the 14.5-m (47-ft) boom is being made. The material chosen – M46J high-modulus carbon fibre – allows the mast to be built like a shell, without any internal bulkheads. A special halyard and a trap door at the bottom of the mast even allow a man to be hoisted to the top from the inside. Another peculiarity of the mast is that its construction, like that of Club Med itself, integrates all fittings from the outset. Instead of being add-on titanium hounds like in the past, these parts are now made from unidirectional carbon fibre and are part and parcel of the mast. A guarantee of reliability.
The activity deployed around Club Med extends well beyond the Multiplast workshops. Isotop, in Marans, is making the rudders. Mick Kermarec, in collaboration with the Ecole Centrale de Nantes and the Crain research centre, has optimised their shape to avoid cavitation problems (stalling that occurs when low pressure sets in around the rudders) at speeds in excess of 40 knots. Just for comparison, the rudders of 60-ft trimarans – which were used as a starting point for studies – cavitate at around 33 knots. Club Med's are characterised, among other things, by their draught of almost 2 m (6.6 ft), for optimum control. In La Rochelle, the Crain (Naval architecture and industry research centre) is making the daggerboards, for which no less than 45 different configurations have been tested. Finally, still in La Rochelle, the Incidences loft is cutting Club Med's sails in a special cloth, a composite of Spectra/Mylar developed in the USA.