Safran christened

Morgan Lagraviere's new IMOCA 60 to undergo work up period in the Canaries

Saturday March 7th 2015, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

Just two days after being launched, the IMOCA 60 Safran, skippered by Morgan Lagravière, was christened today in Lorient in the presence of the boat's 'godmother' Catherine Maunoury, Director of France’s Museum of Air and Space, and 'godfather', Jean-Paul Herteman, Chairman and CEO of Safran.

Morgan Lagravière thanked the partners, his team and all the Safran employees who participated in the design and construction of the new boat.

On a sunny day, the public were out in force on an occasion marked by joy and emotion as the first born of the latest generation of IMOCA 60s made her appearance. The Keroman submarine silos in Lorient were dressed for the occasion in the colours of the latest Safran.

With applause from the audience, the guests of Safran, and all of Morgan Lagravière’s team, Maunoury broke the traditional bottle of champagne over the bow of the new monohull at 1330.

“Water and air, sails and wings - can a more beautiful union be imagined?” said Maunoury, the great aerobatic champion. “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of this adventure.” Maunoury is an appropriate godmother for Safran, who's backer is a world leading manufacturer in the aerospace, defence and security sectors, but also for Lagravière, who is passionate about aviation and holds a private pilot licence.

Herteman added: “The relationship between Safran and sailing is based on shared core values: rigour, innovation and the quest for performance, but also determination, courage and teamwork. I would also like to thank the 69,000 employees of the Group who, for each race, spring into action to support the boat and its skipper. In Morgan Lagravière, Safran has chosen youth but also talent, that of a seasoned athlete with the heart of a competitor. Morgan will have all he needs to proudly fly the colours of the Group.”

A very moved Lagravière took stock of the moment. After months of design and construction, the christening of this boat designed exclusively for him marks a real turning point in his career as a sailor. “The intensity of the moment has caught me by surprise," he admitted with tears in his eyes. “I’m really happy to be joined by everyone who played a part in the design of this beautiful boat. I am touched and proud to be here now surrounded by people of this quality, of this stature, you are all great professionals in each of your areas. Thank you. I learned a lot this year with Marc [Guillemot] and his team, and from the meetings with Safran employees. It makes me want to push on ever further, my energy has been boosted tenfold. I joined the Safran project to win races and share it with you all. This confidence, this courage that you have given me today, I will do justice to as soon as possible.”

The ceremony ended with the release of balloons in the colours of the boat - turquoise and lime green - into a perfect blue sky.

The 2015 programme

For Morgan Lagravière and the Safran Sailing Team, it is now time to focus on making the finishing touches to the IMOCA 60, prior to the first test sail between Lorient and La Trinité-sur-Mer, Safran's home port. Then Safran will set sail for the Canaries for an intense training period of about one month.

“The idea is to work with a small team and focus on sailing in the best possible sea conditions and weather," Lagravière says. (It will also give the team time to try out its new foil system away from the prying eyes of other IMOCA teams, many of whom are also in the final phases of building their own new generation boats.

The new Safran will make its competitive debut in the Rolex Fastnet Race starting on 16 August. Safran will then line up at start of the Transat Jacques Vabre on 25 October while Lagraviere will get to race the new boat singlehanded Transat B to B in December.

Meanwhile, Lagravière will return to the Figaro class from 20 to 26 April for the Solo Maître CoQ. That will provide the opportunity to train, but also to measure himself up singlehanded against some of his future opponents in the 2016 Vendée Globe, such as Yann Eliès (Groupe Queguiner) and Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) and of course to meet up again on the water with team mate Gwénolé Gahinet on the Figaro Safran-Guy Cotten.


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