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Ultimes: Banque Populaire IX takes shape

While Banque Populaire team are finalizing their preparations for the upcoming Vendée Globe, which will see skipper Armel Le Cléac’h at the helm of a VPLP/Team Verdier design, the team’s next project is gradually taking shape at Keroman Technologies in Lorient. Maxi Solo Banque Populaire IX is her name, and works to assemble her have already begun. “The two halves of the centre hull arrived from Green Marine in late August; while the starboard float and the aft beam will be arriving from Port-la-Forêt shipyard CDK in the coming weeks,” explains Xavier Guilbaud, head of project at VPLP’s Vannes office. “We expect Lorient to deliver the port float and the fore beam early next year, in time plenty of time for a summer launch.”

Designed to the maximum dimensions allowed by the Ultimate class, that is a length of thirty-two metres and a beam of twenty-three metres, BP9 is a continuation of Macif, the VPLP design launched in the summer of 2015. “The floats have been given more powerful lines, and the mast is slightly bigger, but the shape of the platform is very similar,” says Xavier. “Where we’ve made the most progress is on the appendages. We’ve really taken foiling to another level.” Foils, rudders and centreboard have clearly benefited from the latest developments in the America’s Cup, and are the result of VPLP’s collaboration with Team Artemis since 2014.

Three other maxi trimarans designed by VPLP design – Spindrift, Idec, Sodebo – are also preparing for their forthcoming excursions around the globe, their home port being La Trinité-sur-Mer. Spindrift and Idec will soon be standing by for a second attempt at the Trophée Jules Verne; while Thomas Coville is getting ready to follow the same route as he tries once again to beat the record set by Francis Joyon. Over recent months VPLP Design has been assisting these three teams upgrade their multihulls, in particular their floats and appendages. As for Macif, she’s waiting for a favourable weather window to chip some time off the Mediterranean record.