Hublot and Alan Roura

Experience aboard IMOCA 60 HUBLOT  

By Vincent Daveau

Not everyone has the chance to aboard an IMOCA to feel the power of such racing sailboat offshore with the skipper Alan Roura. This Swiss sailor sponsored by the Hublot manufacture gets ready for the 2024 Vendée-Globe, the tenth edition of the legendary Vendée-Globe, the solo race around the world. Meeting aboard his sailboat!

Alan Roura at the helm of IMOCA 60 Hublot at 25 knots. On his wrist: the Big Bang Steel Ceramic on a rubber strap. A classic of the adventure.

Tuesday, May 31st, 6:59 AM departure from Paris to get to Lorient, the Breton city which became the French Sailing Valley where many skippers set their base camp to take part in the sailing races of these next years. The objective of the travel: meet in Lorient aboard IMOCA 60 Hublot, Alan Roura, the 29 years old Swiss skipper, the youngest finisher of the2016 Vendée Globe, current North Atlantic solo sailing racerecord holder and in passing ambassador of the Nyon’s watchmaking manufacture, on the seas.

The IMOCA 60 in front of the Hublot Sailing Team boathouses in Lorient, the FrenchSailing Valley. 

Boarding preparation

We do not board a sailboat designed to beat records randomly. Its owner, despite being young, already has a long experienceof the race on the high seas and thousands of nautical miles to his name. Hublot, the title sponsor of this skipper who has already taken part twice in the Vendée Globe has chosen a long-term collaboration with this Swiss settled in Brittanysince 2012. Owner of IMOCA 60-foot (18.28 metres) makes in 2019 for the British Alex Thomson (ex-Hugo Boss), Alan Roura knows that he has one of the most high-performancemonohulls of the programme.

Very powerful, challenging for a sailor alone on board, this sailboat belonging to the foil sailboats category (lift off and lift up thanks to folding appendages) is also a marvellousbalance under sail. 100% autonomous at sea thanks to a deckcovered entirely of solar panels, this carbon « mean machine »is at best maturity point. Reliable, robust, unsinkable, and fast, it flies Hublot’s flag that are black, yellow, and white and everything to win many victories.

Ricardo Guadalupe, the Hublot CEO, on the pontoons of the Lorient base before boarding to go on a jaunt in a sailboat with the skipper in the middle of training – © V.Daveau.

Permission to come aboard

It is in a nice breeze of 15 knots (force 4 on the Beaufort Wind Force Scale) that this technology wonder zigzags between the Lorient harbour and the Groix island waiting for its visitors of the day. Sea is not stormy, the best conditions to tempt a small acceleration to a speed superior to the wind speed, once the boat is put on its foil under the wind. As Alan Roura said, this sailboat can reach speed around 2 time superior to the usual wind. In other words, with a breeze of 15 knots, it is easilypossible to reach a speed of 25 knots, around 46 kilometresper hour.

The IMOCA 60 at 15 knots before boarding in an inflatable dinghy powered by 250 horsepower – © V. Daveau.

We will remember that for a standard monohull sailboat, in other words, without the appendages called foils able to raise the hull to limit the rubbing (the trail). Such speed ispractically impossible to imagine as the boat reaches farearlier what we call its hull speed. 

The offer made by Hublot to board was even more unique because all the conditions – including meteorological – were combined to offer the partners invited to live a speed experience aboard one of the best, if not the best of theIMOCA 60 of the moment.

The Hublot Big Bang Steel Ceramic on a rubber strap.

Heading South

Swollen wetsuit, heartbeat at 150 and transfer of the zodiac to the IMOCA 60 sailing to 15 knots made in a few seconds… Let us go for an exceptional sea trip. Once you have boarded, seat windward to better enjoy the sensations, the crew of the day can at last live an unforgettable experience. In a few seconds, with confidence and precision, Alan Roura sails the sailboat into the wind and hoists the jib. True racing boat, the boat speeds up straight away in a cry made by the gentle whistling of the wind in the sails and shrill grinding coming from the redistribution of the constraints in the carbon structures. With a 30-degree list, it is possible while leaning over the parapet a bit to see the bulbous bow of the more than 4 meters long yellow pendular keel cuts through the water.

The front of the sailboat brilliantly repaint with the Hublot’s colours under a 30-degreelist.

The foil to the port side is out of the water and the sailboat lifts off to start its course with the wind. The speed rises to reach very quickly 25 knots without making noises. The experience is unique and only a few showers of foam remind us that we are sailing with a speed that only the motorboats and a few racing multihulls can hope to reach.

Precise and accurate information of the record

That is all very well, but the adventure aboard must also be the opportunity to discover the watch chosen by Alan Roura to be with him in this adventure. Ricardo Guadalupe, the HublotCEO, sports feats enthusiast is with the adventurers so that the experience is total said on the Groix island, around noon: « by becoming title sponsor of Alan Roura, it is to the project and the entire team that the Hublot manufacture gives finally its name. Alan is the first… the youngest finisher of the Vendée Globe and with his many records, he made history of the Swiss sport. His determination is the kind that makes the great ones make history ».

Ricardo Guadalupe and Alan Roura aboard the IMOCA 60 during the interview. 

We understand by listening to him what motivated this big brand to share this adventure. And what an adventure: an history of men, women who make up the team and advanced technology. An history that finally looks like a bit to the one of Hublot, young manufacture created in 1980, but always on the sensitive subject, between tradition and innovation, exactlylike the current competitor skippers…

Alan Roura on land in front of the boathouse in which is put away the racing sailboatwhen he is not training in front of the Lorient harbour.

Because of this close comparison probably, it seems that the Big Bang that Alan wears on the wrist is completely one with the man and the competitor. This symbiosis makes the pictures perfectly taken on site during the experience, we forget the time so that only the experience and the emotion remain. It is all the magic of watchmaking and strong nautical experiences. Thank you to Hublot for the team of Hublot Sailing Team, for the sailing and adventure spirit enthusiasts! 

Hublot Big Bang Steel Ceramic on a rubber strap, a self-winding chronograph of reference.

It is to follow regularly on: @Hublot #Hublot @alan_roura #HublotSailingTeam

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