by Simon Fishwick, using pictures and information from the Internet
Since 24 June 1997, the catamaran "Techniques Avancées" has claimed the Class D World Speed Sailing Record with a speed of 42.1 knots.
Total empty weight: 370 kg.
Weight of each wingsail: 55 kg.
Beam: 8.0 m.
Length overall: 10.5 m.
Sail area: 27,89 m2.
Material: A sandwich of Carbon fibre pre-preg around a Nomex honeycomb core, cured at 120ºC
The project is entirely run by engineering undergraduate students of the French National College of Advanced Technology (Ecôle Nationale Supérieure des Techniques Avancées - ENSTA) as ongoing project work during their course. The project commenced in 1986 with conceptual, theoretical and tunnel studies, and the catamaran was built in 1988-89. During its first trials in the winter of 1990-91, it achieved a speed of 27.43 knots (over 50 km/h) - missing taking the then C-Class speed record by 0.14 knot!
From that early, and promising, start, successive teams of students refined the design, and slowly the speeds achieved were increased, until by September 1994 they had recorded a speed of 35 knots (65 km/h). At this speed, they began to experience trouble with the rudder, and were obliged to curb their speed until they had found a fix.
A new rudder was made, new research was done, new foils made. The French navy became involved, seconding to the project several former members of the team who had graduated and were doing their national service!
Trials continued, new foils fitted, and in April of this year, they recorded a speed of nearly 40 knots in 25-30 knots of wind - a somewhat lower boatspeed/windspeed ratio than Longshot or YP Endeavour, but enough to show that they needed only a gale of wind, not a storm. Finally, they have now recorded and claimed the record speed for Class D (unlimited sail area). Their next target is obviously the outright record.
"Techniques Avancées" is not of course without its sponsors and supporters, and the team acknowledge in particular the help they have received from:
DGA/DCNavale: finance for the major part of the technical achievement of the challenge; construction of the platform (hull and crossbeams) at DCN at Lorient; Secondment of four student-officers from the DCN reserve at Toulon.
The French National Navy: Impressed by the results obtained in two months of trials, the French Navy expressed a wish to participate more actively in the challenge from the 1994-1995 season.
Direction de Construction Aéronautique (Centre d'Essais Aéronautique á Toulouse): Undertaking tests of the foils in trim and at true speed in a hydrodynamic tunnel. In 1996, also, different forms of bulbs were tried on the rudder in collaboration with the Hydroptère team.
L'AGPM: financial underwriter.
H. de Turckheim (TIGA R&D): Technical advice on manufacture.
Eurovoile: support supplies (hardware, servicing of support craft)
Hobie Cat: sailing equipment.
The Ecôle Nationale Supérieure de Techniques Avancées, founded in 1971, trains engineers to a high (degree/masters) level in: structural and fluid mechanics, computer science, electronics, automation, artificial intelligence and naval architecture.
Young and dynamic, it possesses a system of personalised instruction which permits several teams of students to follow directed studies, and to carry out typical industrial scale projects, such as designing and building a catamaran on hydrofoils capable of beating the world sailing speed record, and demonstrating that a foiler, fitted with a rigid rig, can sail at high speed in a stable manner.
The students assigned to this project have benefited, since the start, from the continuity in passage of responsibilities from old team members to those who succeed them. Those who are currently in place for the season 96-97 ascribe their team-spirit and "polyvalence" to those who went before. In particular, they cite:
· the benefit from their scientific instructors and other experts at ENSTA
· the three permanent members who, since Sept 96, have been based at La Seyne Sur Mer and ensured, by their perfect knowledge of the prototype and their rapid reaction to unforeseen events, that "Techniques Avancées" was well-maintained in good condition for an ever-more-demanding sailing programme;
· SIX students of ENSTA, profiting from the opportunity given by ENSTA to undertake research work during their studentship, who worked to optimise the catamaran in several areas (profile of foils and the rudder)
· the five members of the association who assured the vital communications and found sponsors and partners; and finally
· Gérard NAVARIN, the skipper of the catamaran, who has all the practical experience needed to manage the team. His careful comments are immediately analysed, and many improvements made as a consequence. In addition, over several trials, he has become the ideal test-pilot for "Techniques Avancées".
The concept of Techniques Avancées
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