Marine & Offshore

Discover Groupama Team France’s
drive for optimal performance

  • Challenge

    Design, build, and test a high performance flying catamaran within a very short timeframe to race the 35th America’s Cup.

  • Solution

    Groupama Team France adopted Dassault Systèmes’ Designed For Sea based on the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform for virtual design, simulation, and collaborative innovation.

  • Results

    Designed for Sea allowed the team to accelerate design time, explore design options, improve collaboration, and produce designs of superior quality and precision.

A quest for optimal performance

Technology has transformed sailboat design and racing – nowhere is that more evident than in the America’s Cup, the world’s most renowned sailing competition and the most difficult to win. Maybe even before being a race, the America’s Cup is also a contest of know-how and technology which very essence is to be innovative and reach excellence in technological development. It has evolved dramatically over the past few years with boats that have gone from big and heavy mono-hull boats with a very big ballast to provide stability, and which were not very fast, to spectacular vessels that are now multi-hull boats capable of flying over the water at great speeds supported only by two foils, pushing the boundaries of performance.

The 35th edition disputed in 2017 off the coasts of Bermuda features five challengers and one defender. Among them is Groupama Team France, comprising top sailors such as Franck Cammas, winner of numerous sailing competitions including the Volvo Ocean Race in 2012, Michel Desjoyeaux, multiple winner of some of the world’s most prestigious single-handed sailing races, and Olivier de Kersauson, multihull pioneer. Three generations of sailors, three men with the same ambition: to win sailing’s most prestigious prize.

The 3DEXPERIENCE® platform is an important asset in our quest for leadership. It enables our designers to express their expertise to build a boat of superior craftsmanship and technological prowess.

Franck Cammas

Franck Cammas – Skipper, Groupama Team France

Groupama Team France

A quest for optimal performance.

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On a tight schedule

From a technical standpoint, this America’s Cup edition boats will be smaller than those used in previous competitions. “The boat went from a 62-foot (19-meter) flying catamaran with very open rules to a 50-foot (15-meter) flying catamaran with many restrictions,” explained Martin Fischer, head of the design team at Groupama Team France and designer of the Flying Phantom, the first catamaran with foils. “We had to use the construction plans of certain components that were designed once for use by all the teams (called one-design components). This meant that we had to spend time analyzing all the plans to understand every detail of these “one-design” components before preparing the construction plans. Eliminating this analysis phase and following these drawings blindly would have been too risky. Meanwhile, we also had to address the areas impacted by the new rules - the foils, the structure of the wing and the aerodynamic fairings of the catamaran,” he said. “There was a lot to do in a very limited period of time. We began designing the boat in October 2015 and had basically 18 months compared to many of the other teams that started earlier and had nearly three years to do the same thing.”

“So, everything is more or less done on a just-in-time basis,” Desjoyeaux continued. “We finish the plans, send them off to production, and during this time we are already planning the next step. It takes a lot of effort, which is why, to meet our deadlines, we needed the right technology to streamline development and the flow of information between the different project actors.”

An integrated approach

To meet all these challenges, Groupama Team France adopted the Designed For Sea industry solution experience from Dassault Systèmes based on the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform. “Building a catamaran for the America’s Cup requires us to comply with some new and very strict protocols concerning the hull, the wings and the transverse structures in terms of geometry and weight as well as the quantity of materials used,” Desjoyeaux said. “These are the elements we cannot modify. With some parts, however, we had more freedom, for example, with the arm fairing support brackets, the two main foils, the dagger board geometry and trimming systems, the steering gear, and the system for the manipulation of the wing. We are on a perpetual quest for excellence and time is running out. A project like this is not like a traditional industrial project where we have time to perform preliminary studies, draw up the plans, build a prototype and then proceed with mass production. With the race only a few months away, there is a level of urgency.”

3DEXPERIENCE® platform

“The 3DEXPERIENCE® platform has, therefore, enabled us to accelerate the development of our two catamarans,” Fischer said. “In the past, we used different software for each task; one for 3D modeling, one for structural analysis and another for flow simulations and optimization. With the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform, we have all these applications integrated into one environment. Consequently, we no longer need to worry about exchanging files in different formats with the risk of losing information in the process. It really helps to speed things up and we make fewer errors,” he said.

Paddling in the same direction

“Collaboration between the design team and the crew is essential particularly since we are on a very tight schedule,” Fischer said. “With Designed For Sea, we model everything in 3D, design the foil using the composites features, analyze the structure, and simulate the boat’s behavior in the water.

The resulting 3D virtual mockup provides the crew with a precise idea of the future boat before construction even begins. We can represent details of the deck plans such as where the winches and buttons are for the different control systems early on in the process. Having this preliminary view allows them to become familiar with the boat and for us to make the necessary adjustment before we’re too far downstream when it becomes financially prohibitive to make modifications.”

Franck Cammas is the skipper leading the Groupama Team France crew. “My other role is to assemble the right talents - designers, skippers, shore team and supporting functions – and to make sure they’re able to collaborate and communicate throughout the project like a well-tuned orchestra,” Cammas said. “Everyone must be attentive to each other’s requirements. The designers must foresee what the skipper will experience when navigating, and design the boat accordingly, and the skipper must work hand-in-hand with the architects and engineers as early as possible so that the components are correctly designed from the start. As we are on a tight budget and schedule the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform enables us to seamlessly communicate throughout the project.”

Collaboration between the design team and the crew is essential.
Collaboration between the design team and the crew is essential.

Keeping the crew safe

When sailing downwind, boats that race in this type of competition can reach up to three times the speed of the wind. Upwind, or against the wind, they go almost twice the wind speed. “As a comparison, downwind, we are much faster than the speed attained at a water ski world championship,” Fischer said. “A foiling catamaran like the Class AC can “fly” at 80 km per hour. This poses some serious safety issues. The hydrofoils must be reliable and not break at full speed because if they do, a crew member can be injured or killed, and that’s definitely not something we even want to think about,” Fischer said.

“Designing a foil is a difficult task because it’s always a compromise between performance and stability. Therefore, the structure must be engineered with the utmost precision. Basically, it’s a piece of carbon, which should be as small as possible to reduce the wetted surface yet at the same time, be strong enough to carry a boat travelling at great speeds and that weighs more than three tons,” Fischer continued. “We modeled the composites layout layer by layer, ply by ply including the glue between the layers. We then analyzed the 3D model in detail using the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform’s finite element analysis applications, to zero in on the best configuration. It is reassuring to be able to do these iterations in the virtual world before drawing up the construction plans,” he said. “In the end, we had a precise and error-free digital model. We definitely would not have been able to succeed without the modeling and engineering applications of the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform.”

Racing towards the America’s Cup

Take a look at the full story behind the pursue of innovation and excellence.

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Putting the pieces of the puzzle together

When the team built the boat based on the 3D model designed with the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform, everything fell into place the first time around. “A boat like this is the sum of many complex mechanical and electrical systems each comprising components of all sizes fabricated either in house or by third parties,” Fisher said. “The moment of truth came during assembly. All the pieces of the puzzle fit just like they did in the 3D virtual mock-up. It was a great moment.”

Focus on Groupama Team France

French sailing team to race in the 2017 America’s Cup sailing competition.

Products: 50 foot Class AC Foiler catamaran and 45 foot Class AC Test
Team: 85 passionate designers, engineers, mathematicians, physicists, sailors, communication specialists, medical crew, and people responsible for the financial and logistics aspects of the project.

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Discover Groupama Team France’s quest for optimal performance Watch the full video