Eric Tabarly and Alain Thébault - 1984
Christian de Bergh, builder of the model on a1/20th scale - 1984
The model on a 1/20th scale is sailing on Lake Torcy - 1986
Alain Thébault during the first flights on the model on a one-third scale - 1990 © Philip Plisson
HYDROPTERE - 1995 © PHILIP PLISSON
HYDROPTERE 2012 version - COPYRIGHT CHRISTOPHE LAUNAY
The epic of Hydroptere
Not floating anymore but flying, the ultimate dream that comes true with Hydroptere.
The original idea of Hydroptere was born in 1975, but the dream only started to materialize in 1994. On 1st October, Alain Thébault and his crew make the prototype fly for the first time.
From this milestone, passion and daring have continued to power the project and have made Hydroptere today a technological jewel, and the first sailing boat to cross the 50 knot speed barrier and become the world’s fastest sailing craft over one nautical mile.
1975: A team of aeronautical engineers, aircraft part manufacturers and sailors manages to convince Eric Tabarly about the project’s viability;
1987-1992: Alain Thébault builds and adjusts a model on a one-third scale and improves it any time he makes it sail;
1st October 1994: Hydroptere’s first flight;
1998: Aerospatiale manufactures two new cross beams;
2000: Development of a 3D flight simulator by Philippe Perrier, former Technical Manager for Program Rafale, Dassault Aviation;
2004: Installation of the strain absorbers designed by André Sournat. They now ensure the structure’s strength;
9th February 2005: The symbolic record from Blériot between Calais and Dover smashed by Hydroptere with over 33 knots average speed in 34 minutes and 24 seconds;
9th August 2005: Thierry and Adrien Lombard join Alain Thébault in Hydroptere’s epic. From then on, some project's teams work from France and from Switzerland;
2006: The speed potential of Hydroptere is optimized and at the same time, studies on a new boat, Hydroptere.ch, are carried out in Switzerland. This is a lab platform that aims to contribute to the technological development of the concept;
4th April 2007: Hydroptere wins two world speed records, officially ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council. 1 nautical mile speed record, all categories (outright nautical mile) at an average of 41.69 knots. Speed record on 500 meters for boat category D at an average of 44.81 knots.
30th October 2008: Alain Thébault and his crew still improve their performance and set two new world records at an average of 43.09 knots over one nautical mile and 46.146 knots over 500 meters.
9th August 2005: New achievement. The wind barrier has been exceeded over 500 meters resulting in a new outright world sailing speed record. Alain Thébault and his crew also confirm their world record over one nautical mile. Hydroptere is now the fastest sailing craft of the world, with an average speed of 48.72 knots over one nautical mile and 51.36 knots over 500 meters;
8th November 2009: Extraordinary conclusion of this record campaign, Hydroptere once again exceeds the average 50 knot barrier but this time over one nautical mile. Hydroptere sets a new world record at 50.17 knots;
2010 - 2011: Hydroptere gets back to a more versatile offshore configuration and sails all over Europe. A new public discovers the boat and the crew gets used to offshore conditions.
January 2012: After six years of successful collaboration, the Swiss and French teams decide to pursue two separate programs. Hydroptere.ch’s team will focus on fundamental research and will continue the trials on Lake Geneva while Hydroptere's French team will start the conquest of oceanic records.
2012: Hydroptere is modified for a first oceanic record attempt and meets California. Without a favorable weather window, the Transpacific record attempt is postponed until the following spring. During the fall, Hydroptere continues its training, sails from Los Angeles to San Francisco, and generates a new American following.
2013: Hydroptere will attempt to break the Transpacific record in June.
Next challenges: a two seater prototype is being designed to attempt to break the absolute sailing speed record at 80 knots average speed. The team's engineers are also working on a new generation trimaran to try to break the Atlantic record.