12 May 2013

Val Maubuee (Ribadeau-Dumas Two Tonner)

Val Maubuee was a less famous Admiral's Cup contender from the 1987 series, and notable only really for the extreme lengths that her designer, Guy Ribadeau-Dumas, went to in order to try to cheat some of the parameters of the IOR rule, resulting in something of an ungainly looking yacht and one that was ultimately unsuccessful.

Designed as a Two Tonner (34.5ft IOR), Ribadeau-Dumas is reported to have commented on characteristics of the 44 foot Val Maubuee as being a yacht with a narrower underwater shape than her competition, and over a foot longer on the waterline. This was meant to increase performance in lighter winds and downwind in fresh conditions.  

The yacht had a very narrow stern and was very flat at the BMAX station, with an angular deck plan that allowed crew weight leverage to be maximised within the constraints of the Crew Stability Factor component of the IOR, and enabled the spinnaker clew sheeting points to be located further outboard.  A curved sheerline was designed to reduce windage, but Ribadeau-Dumas acknowedged the debatable aesthetics of the end result. Another unusual feature was the rudder, hung directly under the skeg, supposedly to give better leverage in normal conditions. The skeg then ran all the way to the transom, while a small step provided support for the backstay.

 The cockpit was deep and exceedingly wide, with two hatches behind the helm position and located above the navigation station, with a short mainsheet traveller further aft.

The tortured deck lines of the curious Val Maubuee (photo Ian Watson)
While she was reported to be fast in certain conditions, her radical concept prevented her from being a good all-rounder. She was skippered by French ace Yves Pajot, however, the French selection trials in 1987 ran into some difficulties, with a protest between two of the One Ton contenders, and the initial selection of Val Maubuee over Corum for the Two Tonner spot was reconsidered by the selection committee. 

Under sail in her favoured light airs, but Val Maubuee failed to impress in any conditions. Note the unusual extension of the skeg to the transom
In the end Val Maubuee was dropped for the team in favour of Corum, and Val Maubuee sailed for the last placed Belgium team, the yacht herself finishing last (42nd) in the individual standings, collecting just 28 points - so off the pace was she that the crew, along with that of Belgium team-mate CGI, didn't even bother to start the Fastnet race.

A view of the aft sections of Val Maubuee (photo Ian Watson)
The yacht is understood to have been maintained in good condition and is used for charter sailing off the French Atlantic coast. 

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