Brit Air built by Multiplast, world champion !
In finishing second in the Vendée Globe and second in the English Transat, Armel Le Cléac'h has sailed his 60 foot Imoca monohull Brit Air onto the highest podium place in the Imoca World Championship. His success is the result of excellent management all round, but also due to having an extremely reliable yacht to race.
Armel Le Cléac'h : "... Brit Air has measured up to expectations. We opted for simplicity and reliability. She has not let us down. At the Vendée Globe finish, lots of people were surprised to see that apart from the odd bit of wear and tear, she looked as good as new - in spite of the fact that she has clocked up the best part of two circumnavigations. We ran into some extremely tough winds and seas in the home straight in the Bay of Biscay
Brit Air is a tough nut and didn't budge an inch. It's no surprise that we made it to the finish." Before setting out this time round, if you take into account the miles logged in training and qualifying, Brit Air had already run up some 25 000 miles and her skipper knew her inside out. Armel le Cléac'h : "... This was my first round the world yacht race and I had a lot to learn. My main aim was to make it across the finishing line. The sporting element came second. Even though I knew Brit Air like the back of my hand before the start, I had no experience in handling a boat of this type in the Southern Ocean, with rough seas and extremely strong winds for days on end. Although I had the ability to keep up with the leaders, which I did sometimes do, Brit Air suffered as a result. I opted for a steadier pace in order to preserve the boat. It paid off. I managed to stay in the top ten as far as the Cape of Good Hope, and moved into the top five as the fleet sailed into the Pacific Ocean, reaching a virtual podium place at the Horn. In the end, I came second! Brit Air was certainly not the fastest boat in the fleet, but she was built to finish this circumnavigation."
MULTIPLAST took this design brief on board in every sense of the term. Yann Penfornis was in charge of Brit Air's construction: "... We have built three Imoca 60 foot monohulls for this Vendée Globe (Generali, Brit Air and Dcns), along with the keel of a fourth boat (Hugo Boss). Armel Le Cléac'h and his team made their objectives perfectly clear. There was a great deal of communication back and forth and we share the same culture as his airline company partner. Working with BRIT AIR was a rich and efficient experience all round." Armel le Cléac'h confirms this: "... throughout the build process, we communicated constantly with the in-house design office and of course the architects Finot-Conq. We put their recommendations into practice and applied their savoir faire. They understood perfectly what we wanted and we were on the same wavelength when it came to safety and reliability. Our schedule was pretty tight in the run up to the Vendée Globe. MULTIPLAST was always present, opening up the yard during the August holiday closure to iron out the odd detail here and there on the keel. This level of availability meant that we remained on schedule. I never had to call the yard during the race".
Today Brit Air has been stripped down for a thorough check-up. This is perfectly normal and necessary after 27 000 miles in race conditions. Armel Le Cléac'h : "... apart from normal wear and tear, there is nothing, no cracks or structural problems. She's fine, almost as good as new .In the Bay of Biscay the sliding cap came off the roof, but we made that ourselves ! We're going to make a more solid one now".
In the month of May, Brit Air will be put back into the water for some corporate entertaining in-house and to take part in the Défi Petit Navire in Douarnenez. After that, she will be put into shape for the major race this year, the Transat Jacques Vabre, sailed two-handed in November from Le Havre to Limon (Costa Rica). Armel Le Cléac'h : "... This was the boat's first transatlantic since her launch in 2007. We were getting to know her. This year, with the experience we have acquired and a boat which is perfectly run in and reliable, I allow myself to entertain ambitions other than simply making it across the finishing line".
For the first Imoca 60 foot construction campaign, the victory of Brit Air in the Imoca World Championship, MULTIPLAST can add a new line to its unique list of ocean-racing achievements.
Imoca 2008 World Championship rankings
1/ Le Cleac'h Armel (FRA) - 371 points, 2/ Guillemot Marc (FRA) - 368 points, 3/ Desjoyeaux Michel (FRA) - 351 points.