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Idec Sport – close to relaunch

TFP – Vannes

Getting IDEC Sport ready to launch and the excitement is mounting at The Famous Project

Founder Alexia Barrier and The Famous Project all-women team are now into the exciting transition phase as they look forwards eagerly to the launch at the end of this month of their record breaking giant Ultim IDEC Sport, moving from the MOD70.

A winter refit in Vannes right beside the Multiplast facility where she was built between 2005 and 2006 as Groupama is coming close to completion and Barrier and the team plan a launch at the end of the month before a couple of weeks final work at the dock prior to July and August day sail training which she hopes will go on to include a passage round the British isles and perhaps a tilt at the Route of Discovery, continuing the proud history of the famous 105 footer which has already won the Jules Verne Trophy three times before setting the current round the world record at 40 days 23 hours in the hands of Francis Joyon and crew.

As they progress in their quest to set a womens benchmark in winter 2025, getting the big beast in the water soon is an important landmark.

Barrier reports, “The guys are working well even if the weather in Brittany never seems to be with them. Now we have brought the boat to a good base level, doing a big maintenance. Before now it has just been used over the last year for a sustainability promotion and so it was not already in an acceptable state to go sailing. The last race was the Route du Rhum (in 2022) We have not made any real modifications.”

She is back and forwards to the yard and will be there again this next week, “We are lucky to be at Multiplast as the boat was built there. Our neighbours are VPLP – who designed the boat – and North Sails. We are working with both of them and we can ask any question about the boat and the history and they have all the answers we need. And we are fortunate to have the boat captain Eric Lamy who  worked on the boat since it was Groupama 3 and was part of the build team and so he knows every little corner, every nut and bolt.”

Right now there is a team of team of seven working all the time, in composites on electronics and The Famous Project have now brought in all their own tools and tooling, “Now it is important for us that we can do most of the parts ourselves as everything is a prototype. And it is a big, big boat and a really huge work and I am so proud of what the team have done there, it is a great job.”  

But after the challenges of the light, fast and tippy MOD70 the challenges of the Ultim are more straightforwards,

“Well the boat may be much bigger than the MOD70 but it is simpler as it has no hydraulics and safer, and so I am not stressed about sailing on the big boat, but I will be happy to start training with the team towards the end of June.”

Barrier explains the team’s planning, “We will launch at the end of May. Initially June, July, August it will be day sailing out of La Trinité and Brittany and out in the Atlantic.  And if we are good enough we will try to sail around Britain at the end of August and then go to the Med in September for our sponsors and then maybe the Route of Discovery.”

Ireland’s Pam Lee has been pretty much full time on the big boat all winter, “We’ve been full team in place since the start of January. As a big overview, we’ve stripped everything down and off from all the electronics, although not completely stripped back, we’ve undone everything, taken it off, serviced and either replaced what needs replaced or repaired and we’re just about to start putting everything back on. That’s in terms of the engine, the mechanics, the electronics, all of that. Also, all of the lines, all the sheets, all the pulleys, all the blocks, all the winches and mechanics, all of that stuff has all been taken off, cleaned, examined, serviced. We’ve ordered spare parts, replaced spare parts”

Becoming skilled, increasingly autonomous and more self reliant has been an essential step too. “We also have another workshop that’s electronic, rigging and mechanic, so we’re really set up to do everything in house in our containers. We’ve stocked it all out with good tools and machines, so a lot of what we’re doing is getting set up to do everything in house. Even a lot of the repairing of pieces, all of that, we are doing as much as we can do in house. All the strat and composite repairs, making of little pieces and all of that kind of stuff is all done in house as well, so that’s really cool.”

Lee has loved the learning on the job process, “It’s really cool and an awesome opportunity to work on a boat this size. For me it’s really interesting to be here from the start because I’m really getting a good understanding of what I’m dealing with and what we will be dealing with when sailing. Even understanding the loads on the sheets and the loads on the rigging, the size of the winches and all of that stuff, you are learning to respect and understand what you are working with and so that’s a really nice thing for me being involved at this level. I’m also getting to know the boat very well, it’s one of the idiosyncrasies.”

She concludes, “That’s the mad thing about this boat, you can’t really do anything yourself. It takes two people to do almost anything because even the winches are huge and putting in the rudders and stuff like that requires minimum four hands for most jobs. And when you consider what Joyon did himself it’s incredible, it’s mind boggling and really impressive. It’s all about that education, the conversation we come back to a lot with offshore sailing, it’s not about the force or strength you have it’s about knowing what you’re working with and how to use it, I always say that applies to offshore sailing and bigger boats, it’s using your head. It’s very clear that if he was able to manage boat as well as he did that he knew the things well and how to do all of the big stuff!”

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