CDK Technologies, the other winner of the Vendée Globe

Monday, 21 January 2013


François Gabart (Macif) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) aren’t just sharing the top two spots in the Vendée Globe. The two young skippers, aged 29 and 35 respectively, also have in common the fact that their monohulls were built in the same boatyard, CDK Technologies, in Port la Forêt and Lorient, Brittany. This is also a common denominator among a further three of the sailors who took the start of this seventh edition of the single-handed round the world race: Arnaud Boissières (Akena Vérandas ex PRB 2008), Vincent Riou (PRB) and Jérémie Beyou (Maître Coq ex Foncia 2008).

Of the two boats leading the Vendée Globe today, it’s Banque Populaire, Armel Le Cléac’h’s monohull, which was the first out of the sheds at CDK Technologies. The former Foncia was launched for the first time in September 2010. The more modern Macif was launched in August 2011, after an express build, reduced down to eight months. “Both boats passed through our hands one after the other, explains Philippe Facque, the company’s Managing Director. They’re very similar to each other, with each hull coming from the same mould. However, their decks in particular, do display a few slight differences.”

The history of the CDK Technologies boatyard began in 1984. Three men, Jean Le Cam, Hubert Desjoyeaux and Gaëtan Gouerou, combined their energy and their skills to create an innovative company: CDK Composite. Offshore racing enthusiasts, they participated in 1986 in the construction of Poulain, Olivier de Kersauson’s boat. The same year, Jean Le Cam secured the title of World Formula 40 Champion at the helm of a multihull, which hailed from the workshops at Port la Forêt. In 1993, the arrival of new shareholders gave new impetus to the yard, and with it a name, which was more in phase with the company’s expertise. CDK Composite became CDK Technologies.

Since that time, the Breton company has stood out as one of Europe’s leaders in the construction and assembly of race boats. In 1993, Alain Gautier (Bagages Superior) and Jean Luc Van Den Heede (Sofap-Helvim Group) secured the top two spots in the Vendée Globe at the helm of yachts constructed at the yard. In 2009, Michel Desjoyeaux secured his second victory in the solo round the world race aboard Foncia, another of the firm’s creations. Two years later, Vincent Riou entrusted CDK Technologies with the construction of its current monohull, PRB. The yard also built the massive 40m multihull, Banque Populaire, with which Loïck Peyron bagged the Jules Verne Trophy last year.

In May 2011, the loss of the yard’s founder and Technical Director, Hubert Desjoyeaux, taken from us by illness at 53 years of age, came as a cruel blow to CDK Technologies, its team and the sailors associated with its history. “He is its soul”, explained Philippe Facque simply. However, as we know, the company has picked itself up, so as to continue on its way, playing a successful part in the seventh edition of the Vendée Globe. Hubert Desjoyeaux knew how to pass on his knowledge, his values and his expertise.

Set up in Port la Forêt, not far from Concarneau, the boatyard has recently expanded to Lorient where, via its subsidiary Keroman Technologies, it can benefit from a wider shed (1700m2) that is geared up for the most imposing of crafts (Banque Populaire V). On top of that, for the past decade it has benefited from the close collaboration of Mer Agitée, Michel Desjoyeaux’s offshore racing stable. A partnership that was responsible for the Foncia monohulls, it has since become synonymous with Maître Coq skippered by Jérémie Beyou and Macif skippered by François Gabart.

Its expertise, the forty or so people who make up the team based in Port la Forêt, is hidden in its past. “We don’t have the means of the motor industry, explains Michel Ollivier, Operations Manager, but we do fully benefit from the expertise and experience of our specialists, with both meticulousness and empiricism colouring our work.” CDK Technologies calls upon high-tech materials. The hulls are made of pre-impregnated carbon and cooked in ovens of boat proportions. Once the hull is out of the mould, the CDK Technologies teams proceed with the assembly of the other elements of the yacht, such as the deck, the bulkheads and the appendages, all of which are made of carbon.

Alchemy is never simple. Philippe Facque explains: “We have to reconcile solidity and lightness. We must gradually optimise the weight, without ever neglecting reliability. To secure a win, a Vendée Globe boat must sail fast over a long period.” Today the monohulls from the yard weigh in at around 8 tonnes, an average weight which is decreasing steadily. François Gabart and his 60 footer, Macif, are currently sailing at a pace that is faster than the race record, which was set by Michel Desjoyeaux in 2009 (84d 03h 09’). And yet, the latter performance was 3 days quicker than the time achieved four years earlier by Vincent Riou, at the helm of PRB. “We’re the first to be amazed by the more and more impressive speeds at which the top players complete this round the world”, admits Philippe Facque. It is a battle carried on, and won, against the clock, where the expertise, skill and experience of the CDK Technologies team play a pivotal role.

Agence Blanco Negro - Laurence Dacoury

See  Vendée Globe images

Last Updated ( Monday, 21 January 2013 )