First Jacques Vabre ‘Transat’ Race for Tom Laperche

The two-man crew set sail from Le Havre, November 5, at 1:35 pm, viz., Tom Laperche a UTC undergraduate majoring in Mechanical Engineering in the Sports Elite student section, with co-skipper and architect Christophe Bachmann. They crossed the finishing line in Bahia (Brazil) November 24, at 4:16 pm on board their single hull, racer the Lion d’Or – ranking 7th in the “class 40” sail-boat category.

First Jacques Vabre ‘Transat’ Race for  Tom Laperche

This was a remarkable performance for Jacque Vabre Transat “blue”, Tom Laperche, all the more so when you realize that in July 2017 their boat was still an empty hull! Tom Laperche was chosen by the BG Race committee (a shipyard for fast offshore sailboats based in Saint-Malo) from among a group of “under 25” contenders.

What was his mission? Nothing short of developing, optimizing a class 40 single hull racer with high reliability, to qualify for the next Jacques Vabre Transat Race. The boat’s name: Lion d’Or. Our brilliant undergrad accepted the challenge and decided to do an internship on this very theme. Given the scale of the operations needed, Tom actually started his internship two month ahead of schedule, in July 2017, to design the boat’s equipment (ballast, engine, batteries, map-table …) and also took part in the choice of rigging and ship fittings. He also dealt with the electronic on board, from discussions with suppliers to boat fitting and certifying the instruments. This marked a high degree of confidence by the BG Race officers, guaranteeing Tom’s autonomy in this chapter!

This represented phase 1 of Tom’s internship. After the boat was duly fitted out, then next step was to gain in performance under sail. Tom also contributed to a semi-circular polar diagram which sets the boat‘s speed as a function of wind force and direction and “sailects” (which is used to set the sails – angles and spread), optimizing the auto-pilot plus a process to analyse real time weather data. All of this is intense work bringing to bear all the technical engineering and project management skills acquired by Tom at UTC.

By October, Lion d’Or was finished and certified “ready” for the Transat Race. Tom and Christophe Bachmann sailed from Le Havre Nov. 5 and arrive in Bahia, Brazil 19 days later, a fine performance indeed for a first participation of both boat and skippers. But the adventure does not stop here for Tom, will sail Lion d’Or back to France before returning to the UTC lecture halls. Next year our young skipper would like to move to a “higher perspective”, doing his end-of-studies internship in the aerospace/aeronautics domains. For all this and more we wish him “Fair winds!”.


A few figures for the Lion d’Or crossing:

Time 19 days, 1 hour, 0 minute and 4 seconds!

Average speed: 9.98 knots

Time behind boat #1: 1 day, 14 hours, 15 minutes and 49 seconds


Life on-board with Tom

Tom Laperche and Christophe Bachman updated Internet surfers regularly via the social networks and gave them a great opportunity to live the race “from inside the boat”.


Some excerpts:

November 11: Boat progressing well and structurally in good shape. We haven’t mastered all the tricks of the trade to go really fast – not easy when everything is brand new! Still discovering …

November 19: The scene outside is worthy of a major modern art museum… we never get bored watching sunrises and sunsets through these cotton wool sculptures and giant phantasmagorical animals in the sky!

November 25: we still have our noses on the grind-stone. It is a hyper-interesting adventure, ending we think on Friday. Our thoughts are nearing the finishing line, but in the meantime I feel just absolutely great at sea; I’ll need to “rehumanise” soon!