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A new hybrid catamaran with wings from the makers of the world’s fastest sailboat

by Meehna Goldsmith

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The brainchild of French yachtsman Alain Thébault, L’Hydroptère is the fastest sailboat on the planet, breaking world sailing records in 2009 for its ability to reach 50.17 knots over one nautical mile a well as 50.17 knots over 500 meters. I recently had the opportunity to check out its extreme power at the unveiling of the Hydroptè—a hybrid catamaran that serves as the prototype for a sailboat that can go around the world in 40 days, a dream Thébault and his team hope to achieve soon.


Constructed from carbon and titanium, the boat combines state-of-the art techniques from both the aeronautical and marine industries. A trimaran with foils, the sleek vessel takes its name from the Greek words hydros (water) and ptère (wing). To achieve such a sizzling velocity, l’Hydroptère uses its wings to extract the boat’s hull from the water once it reaches a certain speed, thereby reducing drag.

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L’Hydroptère is sponsored by private bank Lombard Odier and Swiss watch label Audemars Piguet—a brand steeped in history yet remains an horology innovator. Recently releasing their first marine watch—the Royal Oak Offshore Diver—Audemars Piguet feels the philosophy of Thébault and his crew perfectly matches their own and will likely create a limited edition timepiece to commemorate l’Hydroptère.


March of 2011 will see l’Hydroptere take on the United States’ Transpacific record, sailing from L.A. to Honolulu, Hawaii.