Vendée Globe: please draw me a boat

Not long ago, the blue of “LinkedOut” helmed by Thomas Rettant, long second, overtook the yellow of “Apivia” driven by Charlie Dalin, delicately with a foil. This reversal of the leading roles in the Vendée Globe is not to displease Jean-Baptise Epron, who decorated the hull and sails of the new leader. Like those of four other competitors: the now famous “Yes We Cam” by sea rescuer Jean Le Cam, “Banque Populaire” by Clarisse Crémer, plus two boats that had to give up, “Corum” by Nicolas Troussel and “Arkéa-Paprec” by Sébastien Simon.

→ PORTRAIT. Charlie Dalin, the Vendée Globe sailor-pilot-architect

This last crew sums up the job of Jean-Baptiste Epron quite well, which must combine aesthetics and efficiency of the message for the partners financing the boat. “With two sponsors tied as on Arkéa-Paprec, it’s a little complicated, he said, it is necessary to distribute the colors and the logos of each one so that everyone finds their account there in all the paces of the boat ”.

A boat must be recognizable from all angles

Unlike a bicycle, a racing car or a pair of skis, a boat must indeed be able to be seen or filmed from several sides, from above, from below (at water level), in the small weather with the sails extended, or in heavy weather with the rig minimized and the hull disappearing under the waves. Complicated.

This equation is the daily lot of this very high level sailor, who traded for family reasons the chart table for the drawing board. “Knowing the sea well has opened the doors to a lot of sailors who have trusted me for twenty years”, he said. For the sponsors… it is sometimes more complicated, and you have to offer them a series of projects before a decision is necessary. “In reality, things often go well, sailing is fresh air entering the office of the boss of the box that finances; suddenly he tends to be cooler ”.

→ MAINTENANCE. Éric Bellion: “Fear of the Deep South wins the Vendée Globe”

Anyway, this business school graduate (“To have peace with his parents”) knows the rules of the business world that he approaches with pencils in hand. “The principle is to give happiness to the boss and the skipper, and pride to the employees of the company. Then it’s up to me to come up with elegant solutions that suit this sport ”.

First of all, the sensation of sliding must be accentuated to amplify the impression of movement, according to the principle of the drop of water sliding on a window. Then, we need simplicity in the codes so that the boat and its brand are recognizable at first glance. All in the aesthetic codes of the moment. Brown and green (which in principle brings bad luck at sea) are prohibited, even if Franck Cammas has won almost everything with his “Groupama” in the color of soft grass.

Vendée Globe: please draw me a boat

The garish shades of the 1980s have also disappeared in favor of more sober, more elegant shades, just like in the automotive world. Thus, navy blue and black have made a strong entry into ports in recent years, to the detriment of red which has lost ground, except obviously when the sponsor’s logo is of this water.

Foils too fragile to accommodate logos

And the foils in all of this? These mustaches that have revolutionized ocean racing for four years escape logos and graphic constructions. “The slightest additional coat of paint can damage the aerodynamics and cause roughness that can make them fragile, but that will not last I think”, enthuses Jean-Baptiste Epron, who has kept the freshness of his 54 years.

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“All my childhood, I designed boats. I don’t remember doing much else other than following the exploits of the great sailors of the time. I still remember when I heard Tabarly’s victory in the 1976 Transat on the radio. I was 10 years old, I was happy, after I went back to my room to draw another boat ”.


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