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1985 - Scale model in Versailles




1990 © O. CHAPUIS - ONE third scale model












2011 © Francis Demange


Follow Alain Thébault on Twitter : https://twitter.com/Alain_Thebault/


For over 25 years, Alain Thébault pursues his childhood's dream: To make sailing boats fly. From the first models in wood in the early eighties to the absolute sailing speed records with Hydroptere in 2009, Alain Thébault managed to convince sailors, engineers and industrialists to follow him in this extraordinary challenge. Now that he holds the outright sailing speed records, Hydroptere’s pilot will head towards oceanic records, the ultimate barrier for flying boats.


Alain Thébault's 5 milestones:

- 1987 : With Eric Tabarly’s support, Alain Thébault builds and adjusts a one-third scale model of Hydroptere;

- 1st October1994: First flight of Hydroptere;

- 9th February 2005: Channel Crossing sailing record (Dover-Calais);

- 8th November 2009: Outright sailing speed record at an average of 50.17 knots over one nautical mile;

- 2013 : Alain Thébault with Hydroptere will try to set the first oceanic record on a 100% foiling sailboat on the Transpacific crossing.



Pilote d'un rêve

Alain Thébault, éditions Flammarion / Buy the book (in French)

Born in 1962, under the sign of Virgo, “half-mad or half-wise depending on the tides”, Alain Thébault had a dream one day: to create a boat that could fly. This dream that became a reality, called Hydroptere, was accompanied in its infancy by Eric Tabarly, and attained thirty-five knots in 1995. A speed that today has been largely exceeded as this craft of cutting edge technology has smashed by three minutes the record that until now was held by Louis Blériot for the Channel crossing in thirty-seven minutes. But this extraordinary machine is more than a simple adventure that brought together acclaimed skippers, engineers and technicians from the finest in French aeronautical and naval industrial groups. It is above all the epic of a young surfer from Le Guilvinec who concretized his dreams, the life story of a hard childhood and a passion for the sea, especially at high speeds... A book for all the people who claim the right to dream.


Portrait of Alain Thébault by Luc Le Vaillant

French newspaper « Libération », 26th March 2005

In the sailing world, there are many Ulysses. Sailors are cunning people who know how to make it through the tempest and to use a bit of cunning with the technical and human elements in order to survive. But Alain Thébault is the only living Icarus among the oceanic skippers. He possesses a fever for invention, a scorn for danger and the need to burn himself under every sun. The skipper of Hydroptere, the “flying boat”, is a misunderstood person who likes nothing better than rile the crowds who doubt him. He is also a determined man who would fall 10 times and get back up 100 times. Finally, he is an agitator who has burnt his wings many times by provoking the anger in the political and business spheres. [...] Full article here

© Hydroptère 2014