The new Figaro Bénéteau 3 made a big impression at the Nautic boatshow in Paris in December. As promised, it features foils, a bowsprit, a carbon mast, two rudders and a conventional rather than a canting keel.
The mockup of the new Figaro Bénéteau 3 presented at the Nautic boatshow in Paris on Saturday 3 December attracted a big crowd. The new ‘one-design’ — a yacht built to a standard design for one-design racing, in this case the Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro event — was on display, after what many felt was a long wait.
Chief designer Vincent Lauriot-Prévost of Brittany-based naval architects VPLP summed up the design saying “it’s got a taller mast, a deeper keel and more sail, which means that it should be faster and more fun to sail”. The hullform, sailplan and foils are based on studies conducted over the last three years for the Imoca Open 60 class. The foils had to be modified to allow for the fact that Figaro boats do not go as fast as Open 60 boats.
The Figaro Bénéteau 3 boats will be built at a dedicated facility near Nantes. With an all-up weight of 2,900kg, they will be 200kg lighter and 40cm shorter (9.75m instead of 10.15m) than their predecessors. The first batch of 50 is scheduled for completion by end 2018. “They’ll wear a fathead mainsail, an asymmetrical masthead spinnaker and a small gennaker for lighter airs. Depending on conditions, the new type should be around 15% faster than Figaro Bénéteau 2 boats,” said Vincent.
The foils attracted much attention and many comments. The designers call it a ‘chistera’ shape after the Basque word for the wicker scoops used in pelota. The downward pointing tip is less likely to tear the spinnaker when it is lowered. The centreboard trunk is relatively high up and inclined to make it self-draining. Another key aspect is price — just €150,000 — as required by the type specifications. “The budget is part of the challenge. To retain some of the more expensive features we really wanted without going over budget we had to simplify other areas. The interior fittings, for instance, are minimal.”
In the summer of 2019, Figaro Bénéteau 3 boats will take part in their first race, the Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro. This event is a must for aspiring skippers and a worthy challenge for established champions. Pascal Bidégorry contributed to the project, but has yet to decide whether or not he will take part. We are ready to wager, however, that Yann Eliès, who also contributed to the project, will be there. Yoann Richomme, winner of the 2016 event, and also very involved in the project, is considering his options. “The boat, complete with foils, should be ready on time and on price. I’m very excited. And yes, I’m thinking about returning to racing in 2019.”
Bénéteau (Euronext: BEN), or Beneteau in the United States, is the largest and most successful sailboat builder in the world with production facilities in France and the USA. The company is constantly searching for ways to meet emerging needs and innovations across the board from architecture, design and technology to production, materials, marketing, services and financing.
Original, in French, by Le Télégramme. English version adapted by Steve Dyson.