OFFSHORE | Multiplast move into Class40
On December 1st Multiplast began construction of the moulds for their first Class40, a boat which will be launched next July. It is the product of their collaboration with VPLP office and this 40 footer which has been ordered by Italy's Andrea Fornaro (see below) will be followed by a second boat mid-August for Nicolas d’Estais and the aim is for a third in time for the Transat Jacques Vabre. Yann Penfornis, CEO of Multiplast, explains this strategic turning point.
Does this reflect your own desire to get into Class40?
Yes, this is a strategic decision for us, one which we have been considering for a year and a half. There are several reasons: first because they are technically interesting boats; then because Class40 is clearly growing, with races which range from inshore to offshore - including, now, round the world races. The class reaches experienced enthusiasts and the professional skippers and finally because we imagine, in the context of a global economic downturn, sponsors will be more interested in more reasonable projects over the coming months. It is also always good to be working with VPLP: we have a relationship for a long time and are in the same immediate neighborhood and that makes very simple things.
Is it a bit of an investment for the future?
Yes, it's a financial bet, because we have decided to break with the usual thing to charge the moulds to the first customer as per the Ultimes and Imoca projects: these teams pay for moulds to build their boats, with the possibility to then partially amortize them by renting them out to other teams. In Class40, as the budgets are smaller and so we said to ourselves that it was up to us to take the risk of investing in the mould and to focus on building several boats. I think it is extremely rare for us to take such a risk. The last time was for the Formula 40 Jet 40 in…. 1986! And then there was no second boat built, which kind of left Gilles Ollier (founder of Multiplast) a bit cold. Now with Dominique Dubois (president of Carboman Group) we have agreed that now was the right time to do it. This bet is proving right, since we have obtained an agreement for a second boat for Nicolas d´Estais (see below). The first boat will be delivered in mid-July, the second in mid-August, and we are able to have a third boat ready on time for the Transat Jacques Vabre. So the goal is to find a third customer.
Is this also a technical challenge for you?
Yes, because this is our first Class40, so we want to build a very good boat. The complexity of this project is to make a light resin infusion boat, which requires us to have great attention to details. The other thing interesting is that clients who don't have the experience or back up of teams like they do on Ultimes or Imocas we are delivering the boat turnkey so things like fitting out, painting or rigging which are usually treated directly by the teams can be done. And I have to say it's quite nice to manage the entire project, which we have not done for years on racing boats.
Andrea Fornaro and Nicolas d’Estais are first in line
Class40 goes from strength to strength. Since the August 2019 launch of Crédit Mutuel, the first scow-shaped 40-foot post-Route du Rhum, the announcements of new boat builds followed one after another. Some new boats already been launched, for Olivier Magré and Antoine Carpentier, others will appear in the coming weeks and months for Axel Tréhin, Aurélien Ducroz, Jonas Gerckens, Jean Galfione, Jörg Riechers. And right now the demand seems strong two years from the Route du Rhum 2022.
This buoyant market has not escaped renowned designers VPLP nor indeed the Multiplast yard which have decided to join forces to tap into this market. "The project started when we saw scows appear and mark a fairly significant difference in terms of performance, which seems to see a reset for the fleet with new designs required." explains Vincent Lauriot-Prévost, co-founder of VPLP. "We've been wanting to get into this class for a while and this is the chance to run with it, as long as Multiplast agreed to work with us and build multiple boats and then meeting with a skipper has convinced us."
In this case the skipper is Italian Andrea Fornaro, who after two participations in the Mini-Transat (16ti in series in 2015 and 5th in proto in 2017), wanted a new ambitious project in Class40 after familiarising himself with the class on Tales II,chartered to Loïc Féquet. « I was put in touch with VPLP and Multiplast by a friend.. And I am very happy to work with them. We have talked a lot around the boat, my goal is for it to be versatile, I am also very keen on some comfort on board, to be easier to manoeuvre and on reliability, and a boat I can have 100% confidence in. I 'm sure they'll make a solid boat for me," says Fornaro
He is driving this project with a view to the Transat Jacques Vabre, with a Russian skipper, Igor Goikhberg, (they finished 7th in the Normandy Channel Racein September), before tackling the next Route du Rhum in 2022.
The VPLP / Multiplast tie up and the possibility of having a boat ready from next summer also convinced another sailor from the Mini class, Nicolas d’Estais, to order: "VPLP and Multiplast is the dream team ! enthuses the sailor who finished second in the 2019 Mini-Transat in the production fleet. I had the opportunity to visit Multiplast. You don't consider it a boatyard but it is like something from the aeronautics industry which also makes racing boats, we feel that there they make no concessions in terms of quality, that is immediately obvious. As for VPLP, I have loved their approach, they took the time to speak with sailors, project managers and coaches like Tanguy Leglatin, to get as much feedback as possible in order to be as fair as possible. We feel that they are really into developing on this circuit."
Lauriot-Prévost agrees "We did some investigation, we redesigned the existing boats by running them through our CFD software to determine the benefits and disadvantages of the different options. All this preparatory period and research which took us three months, clearly represented an investment for us, but we decided to do it."
What will this first Class40 made in VPLP / Multiplast look like? "We didn't try to design a very specific boat, but more to focus on versatility." replies the designer, "There are a lot of limits imposed by the rules so that we can't go that far, but we will be making the most of the latest developments, particularly concerning the shape of the bow and the freeboard." We'll see the result next July.
- Sodebo Ultim 3 and the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, the platforms of which were built at Multiplast, both launched their assaults on the Jules Verne Trophy. Unfortunately, their attempt was stopped after 16 days for the former (damage to the starboard rudder) - while they were on target for the Idec Sport record (40 days 23 hours 30 minutes), and after a little less than 3 days for the latter (foil and port rudder damaged), they are now on stand-by again.
- The third fuselage for Alice, the electric aircraft developed by Israeli company Eviation Aircraft and being built at Multiplast, is on the home stretch now as the assembly stage has started. The delivery is still scheduled for early March.
- CEO of Multiplast, Yann Penfornis received the 2020 Industrial Project Award at the 2020 Engineers of the Future Trophies, organized by the editorial staff of L'Usine Nouvelle and Industrie & Technologies.
- The 36th America's Cup gets to the key stages from January 2021 with the Prada Cup (January 15-February 22), the winner of which will challenge the defender Emirates Team New Zealand (March 6-21). The Carboman Group is a once again in the heat of the battle as Decision made composite parts for Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, while Multiplast built the hull and deck molds for the first AC75 of Ineos Team UK, and then the deck mold of the second boat.
INTO THE CARBOMAN GROUP
Plasteol targets new markets
Acquired in 2015 by Carboman, the company Plasteol, specialized in the maintenance of wind turbine blades, works with other complementary entities in the group to continue to develop. Here is an explanation with its director of operations, Pierre Le Joubioux.
How did the company Plasteol come about?
Originally, there was Plastinov a company founded in 2006 to manufacture composite parts and in particular wind turbine blades. In turn in 2012 Plasteol was created to provide maintenance solutions. All of this operation based in Samazan, in Lot-et-Garonne, was acquired by the Carboman Group in 2015. In 2017 we then created a new branch of Plasteol in Vannes. Today, we have 9 employees making a turnover of 750,000 euros operating at the moment only in France. Our clients are of two types: on the one hand companies that operate wind farms, so major players like EDF Renewables or Engie Green; and on the other hand manufacturers of wind turbines, such as Vestas, Enercon, Nordex, Siemens Gamesa, that sometimes outsource maintenance, because it is not easy to find competent people in composites who can work at 60m up.
What profile do Plasteol employees have?
We have two profiles: first, composite specialists, that we train to work at height, because before working on the composite part of the blade, there is a lot of work involved in place to be done upstream; then, conversely, people who come from wind power or somewhere in the middle and so we train them in composite technologies.
Has the takeover by the Carboman Group enabled you to create synergies?
Yes, and these synergies are really very important. Firstly because in terms of image, when working with companies that are major contractors, it is a plus to be part of a group of 180 people. And, in fact, there are many synergies in different areas: safety and quality, for which we have implemented plans across the group through continuous action; work processes, with inventories of repairs written in collaboration with the design office of Multiplast which provides a kind of hotline. There is also training. Multiplast being recognized as a training centre,I was able to deliver training pathways specific to blade maintenance before the season. And there are internal integrations as during winter – our activity taking place from April to October -, Plasteol employees can work for other group companies.
What are Plasteol's development areas?
We are in the process of expanding into blade inspection areas. This is a big volume business that we are positioning ourselves for. We also speak to amusement parks, where we will see the concept of work in height, for maintenance activities that we could provide. The real challenge is to find enough activity through the winter to be able to increase our workforce and so tailor our recruitment phase to support this growth.
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"