YACHT CLASS N°8 (March-april-may 2017)
Inspired by Imocas 60, a carbon monohull famous for being the fastest in the world, the new-born of the Black Pepper shipyard is fascinating. Designed for cruising and racing, this elegant sailboat successfully combines vintage and contemporary. But be careful, even in cruising, sailing and performance is on the menu. Proof is she won the first race of Les Voiles de Saint Tropez 2016 in real time with our reporter on board.
Text : Emmanuel de Toma – Photos : DR & Joka Cemesi
Straight bow, taunt lines, reclining main beam, hard chine, carbon mast... at the first glance, the new-born of the Nantes-based shipyard is straightforward. This Code, the third of the family, is not going to fill the blanks on starting lines, in spite of her vintage touch of elegance, dear to the founders. In this case, a teak deck and cockpit plus a deckhouse as angular as erased. Thirty minutes before the start on this first beautiful day of Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, the black mainsail and the fat head are hoisted by the electric winch. A touch of comfort unfortunately prohibited during the regatta.
Note that despite the roller travellers and the tackle halyard, hoisting and tightening this 70-kilo sail require at least five revolutions on the decent-sized winch. The tension of the mainsail is perfected with the cunningham. With 11 to 15 knots of real wind, the Solent is hoisted. To sail close to the wind, its trimmed sheet is as betight as a fiddle sting. With 11 knots of wind on a rough sea, the speed exceeds 7 knots. At 15 knots of wind, the Code 2 goes beyond 10 knots. On a close reach with 12 knots of real wind, she remains above 8 knots. The five-minutes signal is sent. A myriad of sailboats cluster around us. Given the position of the starting line and the wind direction, the code 0 (downwind sail) is prepared. It will only be hoisted after the start, as stated in the rules. A magical moment: the Class J Velsheda brushes against us at great speed. One hundred and twenty-four tons of steel and teak! Less than a minute before kick-off, the Code 2 rushes to the starting line on a beating upwind. A great manoeuvre!
We cross first the windward buoy. The code 0 is thus hoisted. Michel de Franssu, the founder of Black Pepper is as tense as the sheet. Actually, the entire crew is extremely concentrated. Now it's all about increasing the lead, metre by metre. The breeze rises. Served by a large aft width, the boat heels and settles on her hard chine. In this position, we appreciate the many thick foot restraints in teak wisely placed on the cockpit and aft deck floors. With five crew members leaning out, the black hull glides like a sledge and mocks the chop. Sometimes, an ambitious wave lifts the bow and the ensuing shock resonates in the entire hull. The rigidity is extreme with carbon. At the windward mark, some competitors pushed in front of us but soon the Code 2 lays down her best cards under the asymmetrical spinnaker. And despite some difficulties in gybe, she quickly gets even.
After four intense hours, the skipper and crew exploded with delight. Closely followed by a Swan, the Code 2 crossed the finish line first. In real time! Thus, shortly after her launch, this first copy of the Marc Lombard plan wins her first race. And reveals in the same time her penchant for speed and sea-keeping performance. But the ambition of this unit inspired by Imoca 60 goes well beyond starting lines, cannon shots and ephemeral laurels. This racer is also a cruising sailboat! As soon as we get back to the port, the unit turns out to be equally brilliant in this area. The Yanman develops 110 horsepower… More than enough to propel this sailboat, who weights less than 12 tons at full speed. Backed up by the bow thruster, the Code 2 slips like an eel between the dykes and pontoons to finish her race stern to mooring in a berth barely larger than her. Let's now appreciate with a cruising eye what was just before a sports field. Beyond the traditional cockpit, we discover under the sun this gigantic aft deck and its two areas: the forward part devoted to leisure with benches and table, the aft one for manoeuvring with its two helm posts and instrument panels. On two consoles stand the halyard and sheet winches located in the benches backrests. Nothing sticks out of the teak, except the essential foot restraints. Even the mainsail traveller is encrusted in the floor. Aft, this quarterdeck overlooks the wake and is enclosed by a double-lifeline. It looks down on a fifty centimetres transom that opens up to form a pleasant swim platform.
According to her lucky owner, in cruising, four people can manoeuvre the boat in all conditions. Remember that the electric winches make the task easier... Of course, such a powerful boat requires to fully master manoeuvres, in particular the running backstays, and also to anticipate the sails furling but such a deck plan is an invitation to relax in the most intimate moorings. The hydraulic retracting keel decreases the draft from 4.60m to 1.70m. The only possible improvement would be to fit the low deckhouse with a short breakwater just in the unlikely case of sneaky wave landing on board. The three steps of a classic descent, secured by two carbon pillars, lead to the most sober arrangements that one can expect on a unit with a lightness imperative. Yet, she is not exempt of good taste. The decoration in grey, white and with a touch of black could be qualified of "black and white." But she is above all practical at sea and offers in addition all the space provided by the hull of an Imoca of nearly eighteen metres long. The offset port side saloon, with its light wood floor, offers a beautiful table surrounded by comfortable leather sofas. On starboard: a large kitchen spreads along the plating. In case of heel, the chef can rely on the backrest of the bench to cook at ease. It also features a handrail to ensure a safe passage to the forward full-beam cabin which accommodates a large double bed, head to bow, a small table with reading light and armchair plus a large Italian shower, insulated by a braided carbon curtain.
A spacious independent toilet completes the picture on starboard. In this marine and luxurious universe, a waterproof canvas wardrobe replaces the cabinet to ensure lightness. Finally, since we are on a real sailboat, the canopies features four hooks for the anti-roll fabric, just in case… The aft cabin on the left of the stairs is more stripped. No floor there, we walk on the hull. The berth along the plating is toped by a suspended bunk while the storage consists in voluminous lockers. Finally, the right of the descent opens onto a beautiful bathroom with shower and wc. An interior layout with a contemporary style, carefully designed for sailing, plus a deck plan elegantly combining the essential with pleasure, breath-taking sails with lines… undoubtedly, this Code 2 will fulfil the wishes of those looking for both the charm of cruising with the gratification of performances.
The word of the architect, Marc Lombard
In accordance with the specifications, this sailboat is inspired by the Vendée Globe Imocas, yet she remains a pleasure boat above any gauge obligation. Nevertheless, for me, the chine present on Imocas was essential since it is the most efficient to decrease the main beam while keeping a correct width at the waterline, an asset for stability. The gravity ballasts are only useful for very long reaches and beats. But it could be useful to fill them since they mean losing precious places in corrected time. I should finally specify to those nit-picking about the 250-kg teak deck that this boat is a compromise designed to ensure a maximum pleasure both while racing and cruising. The elegance of this teak, such as the retro deckhouse is based on this art of living and the elegance dear to the shipyard.
Michel Douville de Franssu
Adventurer, businessman and sailor
At 56 year-old, the Picard Michel Douville de Franssu is a happy company director and sailor. After graduating in agricultural engineering, he travelled the world, looking for aromatic plants to supply his perfume and food flavouring plant in Madagascar and Grasse. He lived in Madagascar for almost twenty years where he got involved in social projects, including the construction of a school and a hospital. In 2006, he sold his plants to the German world leader in aromas, to achieve his dream: the construction of vintage but avant-garde boats. Thus, one year later was born the Black Pepper shipyard. "I have been sailing since I was born", he explained. "My passion for the sea, evasion and adventure has never ceased to grow. It became clear that after focusing on sea behaviour and technical aspects, yachtsmen now place first aesthetics and design. A sailboat must be safe and powerful yet beautiful. It has become an object of desire along with an "art de vivre". Thus were created in Madagascar and then on the Arcachon basin, the Tenderfish speedboat, followed by the Code 9m and 12 m. A year ago, he created in Nantes a new factory, where is built the Code 2, endowed with cutting-edge technology perfect for the carbon fiber moulding according to the vacuum infusion method. Michel Douville de Franssu, distinguished member of the Yacht Club de France, does not hide his happiness to see his dream fulfilled.
- Overall length : 17,50 m
- Beam : 5,30 m
- Draft : 1,70m - 4,60m
- Displacement : 10 t
- Lest : 4 500 kg
- Ballasts : 2 x 1500 kg
- Mainsail : 130 m²
- J1 (Genoa) : 89 m²
- Code 0 : 123 m²
- Asymmetric spi : 280 m²
- Engine : Yanmar 110 ch.
- Architect : Marc Lombard
- Exterior designer : Michel de Franssu
- Interior designer : Franck Darnet
- Technical development : A. Tripon
- Price : about 1 500 000 euros HT
- Builder : Black Pepper (Orvault – France)