The long-awaited new design for the Figaro solo offshore racing fleet was announced at the Paris Boat Show. It’s a radical boat that fully embraces the monohull foiling technology that’s currently on show in the Vendee Globe race and will quickly spread to other long distance offshore events.
The annual Solitaire du Figaro sees skippers racing solo some 1,700 miles over four legs in the English Channel and Atlantic waters. It has a well-earned and long-standing reputation as a tough event that produces incredibly close competition.
Below the waterline the VPLP designed hull has more of a contemporary high-performance shape than its predecessor. The keel is narrower and lighter, while draught is increased by a significant 0.5m and the old design’s water ballast tanks have been discarded.
The mast step position is further aft than the Figaro 2, in a position more akin to that of an IMOCA60, and there’s a 1.1m long bowsprit. The rig is also updated, with a square-top mainsail and asymmetric spinnakers, the largest of which is 105 square metres.
Despite their lightweight construction the existing Figaro 2s have an enviable reputation for reliability. Although many have been very heavily used in their 14 years, including numerous groundings across the fleet, there have been remarkably few problems. The new boat is intended to be just as robust – should a foil break in a collision, for instance, it won’t damage the boat’s structure.
The first prototype Figaro 3 is entering the build phase and will be ready to be trialled during the summer of 2017. Bénéteau’s Racing Division will then produce a first batch of 50 Figaro 3s for the end of 2018. At that point, the class will distribute them solely among members by drawing lots. A second batch of boats is expected to be built subsequently.
Figaro Beneteau 3 specifications
Hull length 9.75m.
Waterline length 9m.
Max beam 3.4m.
Waterline beam 2.4m.
Light displacement 2,900kg.
Mainsail area 39.5 sq m.
Jib area 30.5 sq m.
Large spinnaker area 105 sq m.