on 10 Jul 2019
The first production yacht with foils, Beneteau’s Figaro 3 heralds a new take on ocean racing.
The launch of this foil-assisted yacht in February has wider repercussions for the sailing fraternity than simply exciting one-design racing. And that was why I chose to take this 32-footer (9.75-metre sailboat) offshore for a sea trial. The Figaro 3 is the weapon of choice for the professional circuit of La Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro, a 2,000-mile race skirting the shores of western Europe with an illustrious 50-year history. This elite single- and double-handed professional circuit draws Olympians, champion match racers progressing to ocean racing and other seasoned pros. Away from the one-design circuit, Figaro 3 has already proven itself in the Transpac Yacht Race (LA to Hawaii) by beating much larger yachts. More of this will undoubtedly follow as sailors use this boat in its own right and as precursor to the International Monohull Ocean Racing Association (IMOCA)-class foiling 60s.
As the boat’s name suggests, this third iteration of the Figaro class required Beneteau to do something different, reflecting the latest designs in race boat technology. Replacing the popular Figaro 2 is a major challenge because the yacht has been the platform for aspiring solo Vendée Globe race skippers for the last 16 years, so designing a solid offshore race boat to modern specifications was not taken lightly. It required a wide consensus of opinion, including with the key stakeholders – the Figaro Class Association – and racing sailors from the existing 42 Figaro 2 yachts. Other names associated with the Figaro class include industry heavyweight and former Volvo Ocean Race supremo Mark Turner who is keen to see fleets in England.
To read all of this article, pick up a copy of the July/August issue of Asia-Pacific Boating magazine, or buy it online from www.magzter.com. Also available for download from the App Store and Google Play.