Portrait Hervé Devaux
© Gilles Martin-Raget

Herve Devaux,
a winning partnership with VPLP Design for over 35 years

We met Hervé when he was working as a structural engineer at ACX in Brest. It quickly became apparent during our many discussions and brain-storming sessions that his plan to set up his own business was a very sound idea.

That decision was taken in the 1980s in front of Montparnasse train station in Paris, and so began our collaboration on the earliest designs produced by VPLP.

From Olivier de Kersauson’s trimaran Poulain and its subsequent versions to François Gabart’s latest boat, ours was a fruitful partnership of almost four decades which included innumerable highs, such as the Hydroptère and USA 17.

His bold spirit and independent mind made him an innovator, designing for example the revolutionary 68 m structure of the two-part wingsail which contributed to the victory of the Oracle USA 17 trimaran in the 33rd edition of the America’s Cup.

His was a creed of learning continuously, innovating relentlessly, and testing pioneering designs full-size. Repetition bored him.

Validation served only to establish the facts that would allow him to push the envelope further.

His projects always began with a simple calculation of the equilibrium of forces and moments to obtain orders of magnitude which always turned out to be exact, give or take 10%.

There was nothing like his methods for laying the groundwork and the preliminary validation of new directions, materials and concepts. This was always the most fecund part of any project which we defined together as the “structural design phase”. Out of this initial overview came a long list of collaborative projects which were ever more efficient and ever more reliable.

It was a huge honour and pleasure to work with Hervé and his team for all these years, and we acknowledge unreservedly their sizeable contribution to VPLP’s success.

In tribute to his enthusiasm for explaining, debating and sharing knowledge with lashings of humour and self-derision, we raise a glass of his favourite Pinot noir: to Hervé!

Vincent & Marc

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