An optimised version of the Clak 40
After the first two boats were launched in the fall of 2022, two new Clak 40s are about to leave Multiplast, one for Martin Le Pape and one for William Mathelin-Moreaux, versions that the yard in collaboration with the designers and the skippers have sought to optimise even more.
Multiplast embarked on their Class40 programme at the end of 2020 when they teamed up with designers VPLP to build a new 40 footer called Clak 40. These are the smallest racing monohull ever built by the yard which was originally founded by Gilles Ollier in 1981. ”The project appealed to us because the class is very dynamic, it was also a change of economic model for us”, explains Yann Penfornis, the Managing Director of Multiplast. Unlike custom "one offs", on which the racer and/or his partner finance the mould which is very often used to then make only one or two boats - it is Multiplast which has taken the risk this time investing in tooling so they can go on to create a small series of boats.
After the first one for Andrea Fornaro, a second Clak 40 was launched in early October 2021 for Nicolas d'Estais, a month before the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre. With Erwan Le Draoulec at his side, d'Estais finished 13th into Fort-de-France and now attacking this 2022 season on the 1000 Milles des Sables in April with a fine 6th place which really satisfied the skipper of HappyVore. “I was always in the match” confides the latter. “It is very satisfying for my first solo race on board. The ergonomics of the cockpit are perfect and the boat is very comfortable upwind and in VMG downwind mode. It's harder on the reach, but I think I have a good margin for improvement.”
Their progress started last winter with a return to the Multiplast yard to save a few precious kilos, the boat having proved to be above the minimum weight (4,580 kilos) when it left. “The new Class40s are small Imocas, rather than big Minis,” analyzes Yann Penfornis. “The sides are important, the shapes tightly defined and at high speeds the structure must therefore be very tight. Building a robust boat to minimum displacement is a challenge.”
This slimming diet was also an opportunity to rework the sheer line in the forward area. “We have identified a significant potential saving in weight”, explains Quentin Lucet, architect at VPLP Design. “In part, it comes from an optimisation of the scantling of certain structural elements in order to scrape off every precious kilo, while remaining robust ; it also comes from the choice of equipment by the skippers.” One gain in equipment weight is the engine, the new Kubota unit being lighter by 15 kilos compared with the Yanmar installed initially.
The other gains are mainly in the rigging: “I chose a single spreader mast and no mainsail track. It's probably a little more complicated, but all the best in the class do it that way and given the level of the class, you have to adapt!' explains Martin Le Pape, who also paid particular attention to the fittings. "It's a boat designed for downwind racing that allows you to do more VMG work, I can't wait to see what it will be like", adds the sailor who is about to launch the Clak 40 n°3 , leased to an Italian owner, Francesco Rosati, with the main objective of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe.
With the delivery of the fourth boat of this VPLP design this summer set for William Mathelin-Moreaux, a total of four Clak 40s will start the Route du Rhum on 6 November. “We unfortunately had to turn down two other requests because with the three Imocas under construction with us (V&B-Monbana-Mayenne, Malizia and Paprec Arkéa) as well as the SeaBubbles (foiling passenger boats) all our teams are flat out”, reports Yann Penfornis.
© N. Barbier / Thales
Franck Martin: “The radomes are a great calling for finding other markets”
A leader in the use of composite materials, Multiplast has been manufacturing radomes for more than ten years. They protect antennas and radars. Franck Martin, head of the quotation department, talks about this key market.
What are the reasons and circumstances that led Multiplast to start manufacturing radomes?
It is part of a long-term industrialization process, one which really dates back to the start of the 2000s when Multiplast was asked by Thales to manufacture flight simulators for the Tiger helicopter, carbon parts which were 8 metres in diameter. This process increased with the takeover of Multiplast by Dominique Dubois and then even more with the creation of the Carboman group in 2013. The construction of carbon radar reflectors, Coast Watcher 100s for Thales (see photo), then the first radomes ten years ago, is all part of this programme. This diversification strategy effectively smooths out the demand curve compared to the building of boats which mobilise a lot of personnel over specific periods of time. And while boating remains our core business, the objective is also to be less dependent on the fluctuations of sponsorship which determine the cycles of offshore racing.
What materials and technologies are used to manufacture radomes?
Radomes protect electromagnetic devices (such as radar and sat-com) from the effects of the outside environment. We manufacture several ranges. Carbon, which is very conductive, is therefore excluded. We made some parts in quartz fibers, but we mainly use fiberglass. The challenge is to use as few composites as possible in order to minimize signal attenuation while guaranteeing sufficient resistance to all kinds of bad weather, such as hail or sandstorms. For high-frequency devices in the gigahertz range, we came up with the idea of implementing North Thin Ply Technology (NPTP). It is a process developed in Switzerland, which Alinghi had developed for the manufacture of sails during its first victorious campaign in the America's Cup. Thanks to the possibility of working with layers of ultra-thin composites, this process was also implemented for the construction of the two Solar Impulse aircraft. NTPT glass skins offer our radomes increased performance, both in terms of mechanical strength and in terms of radioelectric transparency.
What does the production of these industrial parts represent for the company?
Non-boating represents around 40-50% of our activity depending on the year and that includes 10% for radars and radomes. But beyond the addition of volume, these products are above all a good business card to capture other markets, like that of the 100% electric plane from the start-up Eviation, for which we made the fuselages. The requirements of our historical customers (Thales, Safran, Airbus) have enabled us to build in good practices for this type of market. They prepared the ground for us to obtain the essential certifications - ISO 9001 and EN 9100 - and to respond to calls for tenders from the industry, aeronautics and space markets. Today, we carry out projects in a “built to print” mode, according to a precise definition of the parts established by our customers. We also carry out “built to spec” type projects, for which we intervene more upstream by integrating conception and design into production. These projects allow us to better capitalize on Multiplast's global experience in high-tech composite shipbuilding.
- GUNBOAT. Multiplast, delivered the main bulkheads (10-metre pieces connecting the two hulls) of the future Gunboat 80,to the Grand Large Yachting group during the first quarter. The Gunboat 80 is a high-performance cruising catamaran designed by VPLP Design. The yard will now receive the moulds for the top of the nacelle, which it will now manufacture for the first two Gunboat 80s ordered by a Scottish billionaire, Irvine Laidlaw, and the American Jason Carroll, who heads Team Argo.
- SEA BUBBLES. The two prototypes of the SeaBubbles, 8 metres long by 3.50 wide water taxis, built in fiberglass-epoxy and able to carry up to 9 people, took to the road on February 28 and then on April 12 for Saint-Jorioz, headquarters of the SeaBubbles company. After having fitted them out they will embark on a test campaign on Lake Annecy.
- DIVERSIFICATION. Since the beginning of the year, Multiplast has been manufacturing carbon furniture for a major client in the luxury industry.
© polaRYSE / Paprec Arkéa
COURSE AU LARGE
Gautier Levisse : “The development of an Imoca has become much more complex”
Head of the Paprec Arkéa team's design office, Gautier Levisse is leading the management of the build of Yoann Richomme's, new Imoca which will be the ninth to be built by Multiplast. The engineer had already the opportunity to work with Multiplast, in particular on Brit Air and subsequently during his eight years with the Banque Populaire team.
Can you tell us about this future Paprec Arkéa?
It is in a way born as a twin of Thomas Ruyant's upcoming boat. The plans are from the same group of designers, formed by Antoine Koch and the architects Finot-Conq. But due to timing constraints where each place for the next Vendée Globe is highly sought after we had to build our own tooling. We chose to entrust the build of this new Imoca to Multiplast, a yard with which many of us on Yoann Richomme's team, had already worked. The good relations that we have all maintained with Multiplast guarantee us to work in confidence around a boat that we expect to be well built and well-conceived.
What is your role in this design-build period?
I am in the middle of the conversations to incorporate Yoann Richomme's wishes to the group of designers. I also ensure the proper transmission of information between them and the various production sites, ensuring that certain subcontracted parts, such as the deck mould, arrive at the right place at the right time, on the premises in Vannes. I am the interface between the team and the yard teams, starting with Corentin Lognoné who is in charge of our project at Multiplast, and Ollivier Bordeau, the production manager, with whom I discuss issues of supplying materials. Without forgetting people from the quality department, or even Yann Penfornis, the general manager, who of course devotes time to our project. Simon Troel, technical director of the Paprec Arkéa team, is also very much present in Vannes. For my part, I devote one day a week to it, before the inevitable ramp-up in the months to come.
Today, where are you exactly with the schedule?
Construction started last December. The two big pieces are in the build phase, including the hull, which has already undergone three cooks. A dozen composite technicians are currently working in the workshop dedicated to the project. From May, the yard will receive more plans for the boat, the digital definition of which is progressing a little more every day. The teams will expand with the start of assembly, during the summer, of the various composite parts: the hull, the deck, the bulkheads, the keel box, etc. In recent years, the development period of an Imoca has become much more complex and lengthened to span 12-13 months. The launch of Paprec Arkea is scheduled for early 2023.
What can we say about this new Imoca?
With the previous generation, we saw that the foils had grown considerably, favouring strong acceleration which, associated with the shapes of the stretched hulls, can generate brutal braking in the waves. In my opinion, the new Imocas for the next Vendée Globe will all have improved their structures in terms of the bottom of the hull. With more spatulated boats, we also try to raise the bow with volume in front. On Paprec Arkéa, we are also investing a lot in the area of life on board, with the idea that it is a shame to build a Formula 1, but to forget the helmet and the visor. We started from the principle that Yoann will be able to better exploit the potential of the boat with a very protected cockpit, allowing him to adjust and manoeuver it from a centralised living hub. We accept a little extra weight which will be compensated for by the performance gain which comes with more comfort.
Yann Penfornis : +33 2 97 40 98 44 / +33 6 12 05 86 97
"If your dreams don't scare you, they are not big enough"