Yann Dollo, CEO of the CDK yard and Capucine Cadiou, engineer within the CDK Technologies design office in charge of the Charal project, give us the low-down on the various stages in the construction of the 60 monohull Charal.
Review of the schedule for such a project
Summer 2017 – Start of manufacture of the hull and deck moulds in Spain and the UK with the CDK yard’s historical subcontractors.
Yann Dollo: “Clearly we, the yard, get the ball rolling and we start to set to music a work, which had already begun at the design office stage. At that point, a long and painstaking job begins. You need to reserve the raw material required from the subcontractor and we begin to finalise various pieces of tooling.
For us, symbolically, it’s the launch of the project, even though nothing is yet set in stone in our game.”
October 2017 – Receipt of the two split hull moulds at CDK Technologies, start of laying up in the latter and the first cooking process
Yann Dollo: “We are 100% operational since the split hull moulds, which come from Spain via wide load, are physically with us in Brittany. It’s then a question of starting the laying up of the hull. That involves laying up the folds of materials in a succession of different stages according to the plans. Next, we put the whole lot in the vacuum oven. Each cooking phase is followed up with an ultrasound test. For its part, the British service provider does the same thing to the deck mould, which is due to be delivered to us in January 2018.
At the same time as the manufacture of the hull and deck in their moulds, the overall structure is defined. We position the bulkheads and the ballast tanks. The optimisation is constant between the yard and the teams from the design office until, little by little, one detail at a time, the parts are fixed in place. At no point at the start of the project do we receive a bundle of plans. Together, we seek out the best possible solution and we’re constantly optimising. That’s part of what makes our work so thrilling. It’s the DNA of our sector: adaptability for maximum performance.”
March 2018 – Releasing the hull from the mould, an important moment shining a spotlight on the technology involved in the ‘Made in CDK’ construction and cooking process
Yann Dollo: “It’s the big reveal. Back in March, we discovered what Charal’s hull looks like from the outside. That moment in time is a very important stage for the whole of the CDK team.
At that point, we discovered a very special, characteristic, honed shape in relation to the previous generation IMOCAs designed specifically for sailing with foils.
What’s also revealed is the perfect condition of the hull below the waterline thanks to the construction and cooking techniques fine-tuned by CDK Technologies. These two elements – a honed shape and a perfect hull below the waterline – translate as a certain degree of perfection, which is synonymous with performance.
Beyond the satisfaction of the teams at CDK, this equates to little additional finishing off work and hence less weight.
This came as a real boost to the team at a time when they had already put a lot of work into the project.”
Hull and deck at the same venue, the team ups its game still further before attaching the deck
Yann Dollo: “All the elements are confined in a hall dedicated entirely to the Charal project and its access is strictly controlled in order to retain a sense of confidentiality. The Charal Sailing Team comes out in force to CDK Technologies. It’s a hive of activity with between 20 and 25 people constantly working on the boat. Everyone is preparing and making adjustments to the different parts. Very precise organisation is required using a schedule that is common to both Charal Sailing Team and the CDK teams.
Armed with our past experience of the construction of IMOCAs (generation 2016), we pulled out all the stops to ‘put the lid on’ as late as possible and leave the teams to work in the open air with the hull open and the deck not attached. This results in a considerable time saving in what is a slightly difficult phase.
May 2018 – Charal’s hull and deck are assembled to form one!
Capucine Cadiou, engineer within the CDK Technologies design office in charge of the Charal project: “We all felt very moved by the hull being released from the mould and then when the deck was attached we could finally discover what she looked like with all the different parts assembled. Every stage of the build is as important as the next, however from the point the deck is attached, you can see what the boat looks like. I’m very proud of the CDK Technologies team, the team managers and all those who took part in the refit in-house. They worked technical and human miracles to bring this project to a successful conclusion and adhere to the deadlines. This was particularly true in the highly critical foil casing phase, with everyone agreeing to work extra time to stick to the schedule. This boat is the fruit of an osmosis between the CDK Technologies design office, the men and women from CDK Technologies, the team from CHARAL and the naval architects VPLP”.
For the naval architects and Vincent Lauriot-Prévost in particular, there is a great deal of satisfaction all round as the model envisaged is totally in line with the original vision:
“The monohull Charal, the first IMOCA of the foiling generation to be launched today is the result of a completely new approach with regards its general concept, together with and innovative structure (designed with Gurit) and implementation.
Through this project, we have been able to enjoy a thoroughly positive collaboration and a real passion for innovation with the teams from CDK Technologies and Charal Sailing Team.
30 years on from our very first adventures with the yard, the enjoyment is very much intact and we have high hopes that the end result will be on a par with the quality of our collaboration.”
The finishing work and the painting
Yann Dollo: “The last three months of work have been fairly restrictive as the boat was a sealed unit. The weather was excellent and hot in Brittany. The teams were working on top of one another, working out some kind of arrangement among themselves between the finishing off phases which created dust and the sensitive painting phase. The human mechanics had to run as smoothly as the composite mechanics! Real clockwork precision was required in order to avoid any annoyance or conflict. That was another key phase through until the launch, with everything detailed to the last minute. We wondered if we would make the deadline and then little by little the date was set…”
Epilogue: Exit from the yard Tuesday 21 August
Yann Dollo: “This build relied on a solid tripod of skill sets made up of a design office engineer dedicated to the project, Capucine Cadiou, who already has three foiling IMOCAs to her credit, the project manager Michel Ollivier and the Charal Sailing Team. Though it was a fine project to carry out with important requirements on a technical level, it was also a great success on a human level. I’d like to highlight and thank all our team for the work they put into this project. With the schedule divided up by the numerous May holidays, it wasn’t easy to stick to the deadlines. However, CDK’s employees naturally sacrificed their holidays. This team is united and motivated. Being partner to Jérémie Beyou at the time, CHARAL also made what might feel like simple gestures (Charal products), but they were so important for the general cohesion of the team as a whole. Jérémie regularly called in at the yard to monitor progress as well as congratulate, encourage and acknowledge all the work done. This recognition from the partner and the skipper is the best possible reward.
CDK is proud to launch its 9th IMOCA and wishes Charal and all her team fair winds and some great victories too of course!”