The launch of Arkema 4 in September 2020 was followed by an intense training program. The new trimaran is now ready to set off on an ambitious racing program in the 2021 season, with the famous Transat Jacques Vabre race in its sights, while flying our Group’s colors and values high and far.
The team spirit driving this partnership is reflected in particular in the transfer of knowledge and skills designed to mentor future generations. This has been evident since 2010 when skipper, coach and entrepreneur Lalou Roucayrol began passing the torch on to Quentin Vlamynck and working with him.
With yearning, determination, simplicity, team spirit, passion..., and now at the helm of his new Ocean Fifty, Quentin is fit and ready to take on these fresh challenges in offshore racing.
Arkema Sailing Team
Quentin Vlamynck, skipper of the Ocean Fifty Arkema 4
Still waters run deep!
Straw-like hair, a relaxed look, a gentle face: It would be tough for Quentin Vlamynck—soon to be the youngest skipper in the history of the Class Ocean Fifty—to lie about his age. But when his azure eyes gaze into yours, you can see his extreme determination. Ask him a question, and he thinks first, never launching into long speeches like so many young sportsmen raised on media. Quentin has a humble, affable, and direct character: “Some skippers are certainly better than me,” he says, “but I’m so versatile. Even though I still have a lot to learn (which is normal for someone under 30), I feel ready… Besides, I’m happy to be where I am!”
And so he should be, since the new Ocean Fifty that has been his everyday life for the last two years finally hit the water, next to the recent Lalou Multi worksite, which he also saw get off the ground in 2019 in Verdon-sur-Mer. After watching these two projects emerge, Quentin will set sail, at the age of 27, at the helm of the Neyhousser design, the latest Ocean Fifty in a class that is undergoing a complete renewal.
Passing the Baton
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since the first family outings on Lake Biscarrosse (Gironde, France) aboard Surprise and Requin. The young sailor studying composite materials at the sea-focused high school Lycée de la Mer Gujan-Mestras met sailor and entrepreneur Lalou Roucayrol, who gave a lecture there in September 2010. Ten years later, their collaboration is still going strong, and within the team, passing the baton is a matter of course. This is because since then, Quentin has earned his stripes, acquired one by one over the years in a story that he wrote himself. First, he was a crewman on the Ocean Fifty ex-Arkema 1, then the pilot of the experimental Arkema 3 prototype, built with Elium® resin, winning an honorable sixth place in the Mini-Transat 2017. Upon his return, he asked to be promoted to boat captain of ex-Arkema 1 trimaran. “For ten years, I was limited to the Mini and the Ocean Fifty, but I know them by heart!” says this hard worker who “loves the open seas and knows how to excel when things get difficult.”
Calm, drive, determination: This is how he is always described by his friends where he has been sailing/investing his time and employing his knowledge of composite materials every morning for the past two years. This is a good thing, because a solo Ocean Fifty is still the most demanding event in offshore racing. Bon voyage, Quentin, and may the winds be good to you!
- Picked to become the skipper of the trimaran Arkema 4 and follows closely the construction.
Becomes boat captain of the Ocean Fifty Arkema 1.
Sails often alongside Lalou Roucayrol when ferrying the boat and also “false solo” training.
- Secured 6th place in the overall ranking of his second solo transatlantic race, the Mini Transat, on board of the Mini 6.50 Arkema 3.
- Follows the Mini 6.50 Arkema 3 project and cutting his teeth in ocean racing on board this sailboat.
- First solo racing season on board a Mini 6.50.
- Joins Lalou Multi under an apprenticeship contract.
- Follows the construction of the Ocean Fifty Arkema 1.
Lalou Roucayrol, passionate about the sea
Lalou Roucayrol, the skipper of the Arkema Ocean Fifty trimaran, is much more than a famous sailor. A specialist of ocean racing in multihull boats, he is a consummate racing sailor who surprises with his humanity and simplicity. He was born in the Médoc region, and the ocean is the playground in which he excels. At odds with various fashions, Lalou successfully chalked up, over 30 years, one of the most impressive records in the multihull world. The skipper has stayed the same since he started: committed to developing his boats, while maintaining a certain kind of simplicity.
Bold and a sailing fanatic, Lalou is a genuine trailblazer in the world of ocean racing. Lalou is also an entrepreneur who has succeeded in combining his passion for technology and performance with his love for the sea. The Lalou Multi structure which he has set up collaborates with some twenty people all committed to the collective success of the project. His valuable experience also makes him an expert in materials for sailboats. Hence, Lalou collaborates closely with Arkema’s R&D hub to develop innovative technologies for the future trimaran Arkema 4.
But Lalou Multi goes well beyond sporting performance alone. Sailing is a concentrate of know-how and passion which Lalou has taken it upon himself to pass on to the younger generation, in particular Quentin Vlamynck. Lalou takes this coaching role particularly to heart by supporting Quentin during his training and the construction of Arkema 4.
- 1st in Grand Prix Valdys
- 2nd in Drheam Cup
- 2nd in Grand Prix de l’École Navale
- 1st in Grand Prix Guyader
- Retiring from the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe race
- 1st in Transat Jacques Vabre
- 3rd in Prince de Bretagne Trophy
- 3rd in ArMen Race
- 2nd in Grand Prix Guyader
- 1st in Prince de Bretagne Trophy
- 1st in Drheam Cup
- 1st in Transat Québec – Saint-Malo
- 2nd in The Transat bakerly
- 3nd in Transat Jacques Vabre
- 2nd in Prince de Bretagne Trophy
- 2nd in Grand Prix Las Palmas
- 2nd in ArMen Race
- 2nd in Route du Rhum
- 1st in Route des Princes
Other members of the Team
Discover the portraits of some other members of the Arkema Sailing Team who were heavily involved in the construction of the Arkema 4 trimaran.
An Experienced Crewman
The transfer of responsibility, a cornerstone of Lalou Multi’s and its partner Arkema’s values, is reflected in the professional development of its employees. For example, take Raphaël Lutard, who has been part of the team since 2015. “I was following the same educational program as Quentin at Lycée de la Mer Gujan-Mestras, but we’d known each other for many years and raced together! I started a coop training program at Lalou Multi. Over the years, Lalou Roucayrol in particular showed me all the aspects of trades related to sports projects in offshore racing.” First assigned to the construction of the Mini 6.50 Arkema 3, Raphaël then became Quentin’s crewman and assisted him with preparing his “racing machine” at the start of the Mini-Transat–La Boulangère 2017. “It was a great learning experience to discover such an innovative yet complex prototype. At the same time, I was working on Lalou Roucayrol’s Ocean Fifty and set sail as a crew member in the various trophy and Grand Prix races. It was an incredible opportunity to experience all that at just 20 years old.”
Solo on the Open Sea
After the Mini-Transat 2017, the Lalou Multi racing team asked him to replace Quentin at the helm of the prototype, since Quentin had been promoted to boat captain of Lalou’s Ocean Fifty. “It was quite the challenge. It helped me learn a lot about managing my own project: the construction site, technical choices, preparation, budget… I also had some setbacks and injuries, which helped build in me the stuff sailors are made of.”
After two seasons culminating in a respectable 12th place on the Mini-Transat–La Boulangère 2019, Raphaël has since been hired on the construction of the new Ocean Fifty Arkema 4. “I’m continuing my training and still building experience,” he says. “I’m pursuing my career development at Lalou Multi.” If you take a closer look, this development follows the same path as that of a certain Quentin Vlamynck…
Taking on the Challenge of Arkema 4
Benefiting from the experience he had already acquired on the construction of Mini 6.50, Raphaël joined the construction team at the end of last year. “I’m happy to get back to building and take part in this new challenge.” Upon arrival at the site, Raphaël quickly took charge, especially at the administrative level, recording the minutes of the construction meetings and drawing up schedules each week. “We are all very invested in this wonderful project, and Quentin will have an incredible trimaran!” concluded the assistant of the boat captain of this new Ocean Fifty.
The “Flying Englishman”
Heir of a long family tradition, Justin fell into shipbuilding when he was young. At Falmouth High School (Cornwall, UK), he learned about the shape of hulls and how wooden planking is formed, just like the seven generations of Dobsons before him. He quickly became interested in composites: “It’s freedom! You can make any shape and transform it. It’s light and strong. I’ve spent my life working with it!” exclaims the 47-year-old Brit who landed in the Médoc region with his wife in 2002. When he’s not using composites to make furniture for their guest house, Justin uses his talents freelancing all over Europe, building racing boats. In 2007, he worked on Lalou Roucayrol’s first trimaran and he has kept in touch. When the Arkema 4 project was launched, Lalou Multi was looking to expand its team with a prepreg specialist. They thought of Justin. “I joined the team in February 2019 and was in charge of setting up the new workshop. I trained the operators and we started the Ocean Fifty with prepreg under good conditions. At the same time, Lalou asked me to perform a full study of Elium® resin.”
This recyclable thermoplastic resin is developed by the Arkema group. Successfully implemented on the “lab” Mini 6.50 Arkema 3 prototype, this Elium® material is used on the new Ocean Fifty for all fairings of link arms, the roof, and some peripheral parts. Justin explains: “One of Elium®’s advantages is that on impact, you don’t have any delamination, just deformation. It’s very useful on a multihull, especially for the fairings of link arms, which are subject to high stress in rough seas.”
It’s the start of another chapter in offshore racing for this revolutionary thermoplastic resin. Justin speaks of it passionately, but without compromising: “The Mini experience revealed that the implementation requirements were sometimes random. So before starting the new trimaran project, I created a series of parts with a systematic approach to test them in a specialized laboratory and create a true database.” The parts are scanned to assess their porosity, and their rigidity is also measured. Last comes destructive testing. “Once destroyed, the parts are crushed into granules that go back into the resin manufacturing cycle. It’s quite amazing! I love and respect nature, and I believe that today, boat builders who love the environment need to change the way they work. With Elium® resin, we have options, and I want to do this right!”
His desk on the mezzanine overlooks the site. On his large screen, he zooms in and out on the plans of the Arkema 4 and, just a few meters below, the drawings are transformed into reality. Boatman, implementer, planner… Nicolas Coudrais is the 27-year-old manager of the Methods Office for the Arkema 4. “My job is implementing the architect’s plans in the construction phase. Romaric Neyhousser has the habit of recording all the information on a single A0 plan. It’s extremely comprehensive, but very technical to decipher, and in the workshop, operators need details. My job is to make the plans operational, splitting them into successive construction phases.”
Originally from Angers, where he raced in Moth Europe on all the surrounding lakes, Nicolas had long dreamed of becoming a skipper himself. Preparatory classes, engineering school, then post-graduate studies in naval architecture at the ENSA Nantes National School of Architecture… Coudrais structured his entire educational around the idea of one day joining an offshore racing team. After catching the eye of one of his teachers working at the Bañulsdesign architectural firm, he honed his skills at the Sodebo team in 2017, then responded to Lalou Multi’s listing looking for a design office manager for its new Ocean Fifty. “I met Lalou and Fabienne Roucayrol along with Quentin Vlamynck in late June 2018. I’d just finished my time with Sodebo, I’d completed the final project for my architectural studies on an Ocean Fifty, and I’d gained some experience in the construction of molds at my internships in the nautical industry. At the age of 25, I’d never managed a methods office, but I did check off a lot of the boxes! What I liked about Lalou Multi was that they wanted to explore new options and that they were trying to innovate.”
The first year in the Médoc consisted in preparing for the construction of molds and the new construction project. Arkema 4 is a global project: 1 construction site + 1 ship. “In September 2019, when we installed the molds in the new workshop that had just been created, I thought, ‘This is it!’” Discovering Arkema 4’s shapes holds no surprises for Nicolas, who knows the Ocean Fifty size well. “The boats are already very developed in terms of their hydro aspects. Romaric focused his efforts on the X-structure and aerodynamic aspects. Anything that could help reduce drag and improve the performance of the sail plan was explored. We’re all very excited to get it in the water and then calibrate the platform during the first outings.”
It’s been almost two years since Nicolas Coudrais joined the Lalou Multi team. Now living with his partner in the Médoc, he sees his role in the long term: “Solid trust has been established. Quentin and I are exactly the same age, we understand each other, and in the space of two years, he has become much more than a coworker!”
Gilles Breton has been part of all Lalou Roucayrol’s adventures in the Médoc. Originally from the village of Macau, between Bordeaux and Pauillac, he became a skipper in 1985. Gilles appreciated the seamanship and tenacity of Lalou, which was preparing its Mini-Transat at the time, followed by the proa Funambule. Lalou found an enthusiastic and versatile crewman in Gilles. “I was trained at the merchant marine sailing school École des Mousses de la Marine Marchande in La Rochelle. For a trip to Canada, I was the youngest on board at the time, at 13 and half! In the merchant marines, we also learned about electricity, mechanics and electronics, and when you didn’t have the resources on hand, you had to invent them,” explains the man who is now overseeing the construction of the Arkema 4 trimaran in Lalou Multi’s racing team.
Gilles started learning about composites in the 1990s, first in space applications and then for the nautical industry. He’s lived a life of construction projects that have taken him to many countries, particularly in North Africa, where he worked on many composite catamarans.