Every year we present one or several concept boats which embody VPLP’s vision and perhaps prefigure a trend, a desire or a new direction. And this year at the Monaco Yacht Show was no exception, with the firm showcasing two concepts that are fundamentally very different but nevertheless characteristic of our approach to sailing boats and the sea.
The first of these,
Ampersand, takes its name from the ubiquitous “&” symbol to reflect the fusion of two worlds: the somewhat raw, competitive environment of sailing performance and the softer, more homely attribute of comfortable mooring. The essence of the Ampersand 100' (see image above) is to reconcile these seemingly opposing specifications to forge an identity of classic elegance while incorporating features from our competition boats.
“Our starting point was the work we did for
Comanche, the 100 footer which seems to have won everything since her launch,” explains Marc Van Peteghem. “For instance, she features a mast set further aft to inject more drive into the sail plan, a towering mainsail and a powerful fore-triangle, as well as a chined hull worthy of our Imocas. This power was then ‘softened’ by a deck layout designed to facilitate sail manoeuvres, and timeless aesthetics reminiscent of classic regatta boats.

Concept number two is an updated version of Komorebi, the 282-foot trimaran we unveiled last year almost to the day. Reduced in length to 200 feet, and without the swimming pool but retaining the same roominess, the Komorebi Wingsails Exploration Trimaran (see image above) exploits its hybridity to the full with propulsion by engine and rigid reefable wingsails, the latter providing greater range to make those voyages to new horizons a reality. And with space for a seaplane and a tender the size of a work-boat, Komorebi 200 is a veritable exploration vessel too.
VPLP Design has been closely following developments in rigid wingsail design since collaborating with
Oracle-USA17 for the America’s Cup back in the 2000s. “In the yachting world, rigging technology has not developed at the same pace as hull design,” says Marc Van Peteghem. “We believe it can be made much simpler.” Reefable wingsails possess numerous advantages, not least in terms of increased power, automatic trimming, and easier handling which allows for smaller crews. And that’s why VPLP Design is investing so much time and energy in the technology. “In the coming weeks we’ll be starting trials of our eight-metre-high prototype,” reveals Marc. Stay tuned for our first impressions early next year.
Incredible but true, VPLP Design has been designing boats for Lagoon, the world’s leading cruising catamaran manufacturer, for almost three decades! SEVENTY 7, the largest of all the Lagoons, went on display for the very first time at Cannes Yachting Festival in September. It marks a new beginning for both VPLP Design and Lagoon. Marc Van Peteghem explains.
Where does the SEVENTY 7 fit in the long collaboration between Lagoon and VPLP Design?
Marc Van Peteghem: “Every new design is a challenge, but this one was particularly interesting! In size, the SEVENTY 7 definitely belongs to the world of yachting and she’s a Lagoon. The main issue was to find a way of keeping the model in the family without it being reductive for the owner. It was a fascinating project and I believe we succeeded in merging those distinctive specifications. During the show we heard a number of Lagoon owners talk about SEVENTY 7 as the ‘big sister’, which is great to hear.”
So how did you do it?
Marc Van Peteghem: “We retained Lagoon’s core values of building family-friendly boats capable of producing a respectable performance, and simply transposed them to the big yacht. I often call the SEVENTY 7 the ‘gentle giant’ of the series! I must highlight the design work done by Nauta (interior) and Patrick Le Quément (exterior). Together, we favoured soft and sober lines to make her a real yacht without being ostentatious.”
What are the outstanding innovations on the SEVENTY 7?
Marc Van Peteghem: “Well, there is, of course, the much talked about side door (or hull door) which gives the owner’s cabin its own private deck and access to the sea – a first for a sailing boat and catamaran. But we also did considerable work on the interior to ensure the deck was flush throughout. SEVENTY 7 has lots of different spots where passengers can go to be alone or, on the contrary, come together. I’m thinking, in particular, of the fore cockpit which is ideal for a morning cup of coffee when you’re sailing in the trades!”
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While Banque Populaire team are finalizing their preparations for the upcoming Vendée Globe, which will see skipper Armel Le Cléac’h at the helm of a VPLP/Team Verdier design, the team’s next project is gradually taking shape at Keroman Technologies in Lorient. Maxi Solo Banque Populaire IX is her name, and works to assemble her have already begun. “The two halves of the centre hull arrived from Green Marine in late August; while the starboard float and the aft beam will be arriving from Port-la-Forêt shipyard CDK in the coming weeks,” explains Xavier Guilbaud, head of project at VPLP’s Vannes office. “We expect Lorient to deliver the port float and the fore beam early next year, in time plenty of time for a summer launch.”
Designed to the maximum dimensions allowed by the Ultimate class, that is a length of thirty-two metres and a beam of twenty-three metres,
BP9 is a continuation of Macif, the VPLP design launched in the summer of 2015. “The floats have been given more powerful lines, and the mast is slightly bigger, but the shape of the platform is very similar,” says Xavier. “Where we’ve made the most progress is on the appendages. We’ve really taken foiling to another level.” Foils, rudders and centreboard have clearly benefited from the latest developments in the America’s Cup, and are the result of VPLP’s collaboration with Team Artemis since 2014.
Three other maxi trimarans designed by VPLP design –
Spindrift, Idec, Sodebo – are also preparing for their forthcoming excursions around the globe, their home port being La Trinité-sur-Mer. Spindrift and Idec will soon be standing by for a second attempt at the Trophée Jules Verne; while Thomas Coville is getting ready to follow the same route as he tries once again to beat the record set by Francis Joyon. Over recent months VPLP Design has been assisting these three teams upgrade their multihulls, in particular their floats and appendages. As for Macif, she’s waiting for a favourable weather window to chip some time off the Mediterranean record.
PLATYPUS Innovative and multi-purpose, Platypus is a twenty-two-foot trimaran with underwater capability (see image above). The jockey console in the centre lowers into the water to give passengers an unparallelled view of the depths. No need for diving bottles, breathing air is supplied through shipboard compressors and an umbilical. VPLP Design collaborated with Platypus Craft and builders CDO Innov to ensure optimal seakeeping in both surface and submarine modes. Production of the Platypus is expected to start soon.
OUTREMER 7X Flagship of the catamaran builder based in La Grande-Motte, the Outremer 7X was unveiled at Cannes Yachting Festival in mid-September. Designed by VPLP, the 7X will be the largest model built by Outremer so far. While clearly belonging to the world of cruising, this seventy-seven footer remains faithful to the brand’s DNA: performance and endurance. The first Outremer 7X will be going in the water in 2017.
GUNBOAT Grand Large Yachting (Allures, Outremer, Garcia), which bought the iconic American catamaran brand Gunboat back in the spring of this year, has entrusted VPLP with designing the new Gunboat 68. “As with the No Limit project (an Outremer 5X ‘turbo’), our offices in Vannes and Paris will both be contributing their expertise to keeping the Gunboat spirit alive. She’ll be fast and comfortable,” says a delighted Vincent Lauriot-Prévost. Following in the wake of Outremer 5X and 7X, this is the third collaboration between Grand Large Yachting and VPLP Design.
MAXI On 28 July, by slashing twenty-seven hours off the previous Atlantic record set by Mari Cha IV, VPLP/Team Verdier design Comanche fulfilled all the goals set by her owner Jim Clark and skipper Ken Read. Launched in late 2014, she has won the Fastnet and Sydney-Hobart in real time, beaten the Atlantic record (5d 14h 21’), and logged the longest ever twenty-four-hour run (618 nautical miles). Comanche will surely be setting her sights on the Pacific in 2017.
MOD70 Phaedo, formerly MOD70 Foncia which Lloyd Thorburg purchased in 2013, keeps on breaking the Round the Island Race record: 2h 04’ 14’’ on 19 August, then 2h 03’ 58” on 24 September, and now 2h 02’ 31” on 27 September! The two-hour barrier could soon be broken…
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