Jean-Pierre Dick's brand new 60 foot monohull, Virbac-Paprec 3, has just been launched in Auckland, New Zealand. As for the first two boats, once again the design team has innovated and the VPLP Verdier plans mark a radical break with the two previous monohulls skippered by him. Afloat.ie readers will recall Dick was partner with Ireland's Damian Foxall when they won the Barcelona World race two years ago.
The French skipper now has a new vessel on which to go in search of the Holy Grail: the Vendée Globe 2012. Between now and then, the schedule is busy with a half round-the-world, the Route du Rhum and the Barcelona World Race.
What is the philosophy of your new boat?
Jean-Pierre Dick: "The philosophy is monastic! Virbac-Paprec 3 will be a very light boat and therefore spartan. Paprec-Virbac 2 was a palace in comparison! This is the ultimate boat for extreme races in which there is complete physical and moral involvement. I now have sufficient experience in offshore racing to do without the unnecessary and only to think of the objective! The only items of comfort will be the seats on board for steering and sailing preparation, a berth designed by a bedding specialist and two helm stations which are real cocoons."
What are the main characteristics of Virbac-Paprec 3?
" The bi-roof. We have created two cocoons under a Plexiglas dome to provide a perfect view; much as you would have in a helicopter. They will enable me to watch and steer in all weather and stay dry. Before, there were two distinct stations, so this means a reduction in weight. This work is a continuation of that carried out on Paprec-Virbac 2 with the sliding roof. The difference is that this time we agree to manoeuvre wet.
Lightness Virbac-Paprec 3 is 10 to 15% lighter than Paprec-Virbac 2. At each step in the construction, we found the means to simplify; to find a lighter and more intelligent way of building her. For example, the chart table is only a computer screen on a rotating stand with a seat that can be moved from one side to the other. The boat is completely empty inside! The advantage is the capacity to make quicker progress with less sails or to keep it longer. The skipper does less manoeuvring and saves more of his energy.
Hydrodynamics We have designed 70 hulls with architects. Four were retained and tested in the test tank. To finish, they sailed a virtual round-the-world routed by a meteorologist to make the final choice. The lines are very taut and they have sharp bilges.
We have a standard mast with two spreaders, but with only one backstay cable* instead of 3. This is an innovation to reduce weight and wind factor. Safety We have focussed on safety by learning from unfortunate experiences. We have designed a safety hatch in the centre of the hull, so as not to have to leave the yacht from the rear. This hatch is pre-cut in the carbon and I will be able to saw it open if I find myself upturned. We have strengthened the watertight bulkheads to prevent the boat from filling up with water completely, at all costs.
What is the Virbac-Paprec 3 programme?
"One of the advantages of building in New Zealand is the return journey to France by sea. This helps us to get to know and perfect the new IMOCA 60 in real sailing conditions and on a world scale. This requires a lot of involvement, since it lasts 2 months but is extremely rewarding for the team and I. When I arrive in Lorient in mid-July, the boat will already have sailed more than 12,000 miles (22,224 km), or the equivalent of three transatlantics. So this is a perfect test bench for the run up to a busy end of the year with the Route du Rhum and the Barcelona World Race, in which I will be defending my title!"