The Beneteau Racing Division has been working on replacing its Figaro II sailing yacht with a trendsetting, hi-tech monohull. The result is the Figaro III, the first series yacht equipped with hydrofoils. NauticExpo e-magazine went for a test sail.
Every element of this new 9.75-meter one-design monohull was conceived by VPLP Design (Read our previous interview with VPLP). For the foils, Beneteau worked with Multiplast, a major actor in the production of components and bluewater monohulls like the Vendée Globe IMOCA 60 foiling yachts. Unlike those foils, the Figaro’s curve inward toward the hull. Sails were manufactured by North Sails, mast and boom by Sparcraft.
The Figaro III is being built at the Beneteau site in western France. The hull shape is bullet-like, a challenging design, and construction is by infusion. Building an entire prototype required 3000 man-hours. In an unusual move, there will be a second prototype to implement the latest developments and to serve as a yardstick for mass production. The first Figaro III deliveries are expected in in late 2018.
A Play of Forces
Louis Vercauter, sailing instructor and student at the Antwerp Maritime Academy, joined us for sea trials to investigate the benefits of foils on a one-design yacht. While foils typically are used to lift the hull above the water, it quickly became clear that we were not dealing with a flying boat.
The faster we sailed, the more stable was the boat.
According to Beneteau skipper Thomas Cardrin, “The Figaro III is primarily a racing boat where the foils are used to create righting moment and to replace the previous 300-liter water ballast system. The foils also prevent drift.”
Sailing with the foils in the water, we noted a real reduction of the heeling angle. According to Vercauter, the play of forces offers even more benefits. The lift of the foil reduces pitch and reduces wetted surface. This relieves pressure on the stem, lowering drag. We can even say that the faster we sailed, the more stable was the boat.
The Figaro III is a trendsetting, easy-to-sail racing boat designed for singlehanding. Even the hydrofoils can be operated manually while steering. Using foils to improve sailing characteristics rather than flying the boat could create a yachting revolution.
Length Over All: 10.85 m
Hull length: 9.75 m
Waterline length: 9.00 m
Beam: 3.47 m
Maximum draft: 2.5 m
Displacement: 2900 kg
Certification: ISO Cat A/World sailing
Mainsail: 39.5 m²
Genoa: 30.5 m²
Naval architect: Marc Van Peteghem – Vincent Lauriot Prévost