François Gabart, a virtuous sailor

French yachts­man and pro­fes­sion­al skip­per Fran­cois Gabart has just tak­en part in the 16th edi­tion of the Transat Jacques Vabre, along­side UTC sailor Tom Laperche on the Tri­maran Ultim SVR-Lazar­tigue. Togeth­er, they share the same com­mit­ment to pro­tect­ing the environment.

François Gabart grad­u­at­ed from INSA Lyon, set up Mer­Con­cept, an ocean rac­ing sta­ble, in 2006. At the cut­ting edge of inno­va­tion and per­for­mance, with unri­valled exper­tise in engi­neer­ing, tech­ni­cal stud­ies, design and assem­bly of very high-tech boats, Mer­Con­cept sup­ports the cre­ation and devel­op­ment of sport­ing, human and inno­v­a­tive projects. «Now based in Con­car­neau in a sin­gle work­shop, we imag­ine, build and pilot the boats of the future in the heart of Sail­ing Val­ley. We want to take advan­tage of the advances that have pro­pelled ocean rac­ing into a new era to accel­er­ate inno­va­tion in the ser­vice of more sus­tain­able mar­itime mobil­i­ty,» says François Gabart, who in 2013, at the age of 29, became the youngest win­ner of the Vendée Globe, the solo round-the-world race, on the IMOCA MACIF. 

At the end of 2019, Mer­Con­cept will be look­ing at the mean­ing that can be giv­en to ocean rac­ing exper­tise, and will be tak­ing con­crete steps to trans­fer tech­nol­o­gy by car­ry­ing out stud­ies on an elec­tric foiled cata­ma­ran incor­po­rat­ing ocean rac­ing inno­va­tions. «Dream­ing, imag­in­ing, inno­vat­ing, build­ing, opti­mis­ing, per­form­ing — that’s the DNA on which Mer­Con­cept was built. We’re proud of our results. But these days, fight­ing to win only makes sense if it’s com­bined with strong social, soci­etal and envi­ron­men­tal com­mit­ments,» adds the man with an impres­sive track record. In 2014, he won the Route du Rhum — IMOCA MACIF and in 2015 he also won the Transat Jacques Vabre — Tri­maran MACIF. In 2016, he won The Transat bak­er­ly — Tri­maran MACIF; in 2017, he beat the solo round the world record in 42days 16h 40min 35s. In 2020, Mer­Con­cept will become a com­pa­ny with a mission.

Competitors in the field of sustainable performance levels

Despite being only 26 years old, Tom Laperche is no longer just a “hope­ful” in the world of sail­ing. His per­for­mances over the last few years have already ranked him among the top sailors. World cham­pi­on on a small dinghy at the age of 11. Tom made his first Atlantic cross­ing at the age of 13, in the com­pa­ny of his father Philippe. A grad­u­ate of the engi­neer­ing school of the Uni­ver­sité de Tech­nolo­gie de Com­piègne in mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing, this top-lev­el sail­ing ath­lete has been part of the SVR-Lazar­tigue Tri­maran pro­gramme prac­ti­cal­ly from the out­set. On 7 Novem­ber 2021, just three months after being launched, François Gabart set off on the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre along­side his co-skip­per Tom Laperche.

After more than six­teen days of rac­ing and a fierce bat­tle, the two skip­pers final­ly achieved the feat of tak­ing sec­ond place in this his­toric transat­lantic race on the ocean rac­ing cir­cuit. A first-rate per­for­mance that sug­gests a very bright future for this new fly­ing boat. «Tom, like me, is pas­sion­ate about the tech­ni­cal aspects of our boats. We’re sailors and com­peti­tors with the sup­port of a superb team. Com­ing n we have the round-the-world Ultim race, which will set sail from Brest on Jan­u­ary 7, 2024. We are for­tu­nate to be liv­ing our pas­sion guid­ed by our dreams but also our com­mit­ments which imply putting our pas­sion and know-how into ocean rac­ing, which is part of a sus­tain­able per­for­mance vision. It is essen­tial that mar­itime mobil­i­ty becomes as “low-impact” as pos­si­ble. Through the search for sus­tain­able inno­va­tion, we want to accel­er­ate tech­nol­o­gy trans­fers between ocean rac­ing and the mar­itime world, and we have a real desire to put all our know-how at the ser­vice of tomorrow’s world.

Le magazine

Avril 2024 - N°62

Faire face aux enjeux environnementaux

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