I have taken a look at some of the Naval architects, the designers behind the current list of boats entered in the Global Solo Challenge. I appreciate that the final start list is yet to be completed and that some sailors are yet to decide on which boat to use, so I have concentrated on some of the more well-known and revered designers. This article is about Groupe Finot & Finot-Conq.
Groupe Finot & Finot-Conq
Jean Marie Finot is a Frenchman, who became passionate about design and architecture after seeing the French rebuilding efforts following the devastation suffered by his home region, the mountainous Vosges region, during World War II.
Indeed Finot reports that he was first interested in architecture and building houses rather than Naval Architecture, which he went on to think of as a hobby rather than a serious profession.
After having been involved in designing a sailing boat for the local Sailing School, Finot teamed up with Philippe Harlé and getting no interest from any French Shipyards, the boat was eventually built by the Dutch firm Huisman. This boat was an IOR ¼ ton yacht called Écume de Mer.
This boat immediately won the 1970 & 1972 ¼ ton cup and was later heralded ‘Boat of the Year’ in 1975.
As a result of this success and the interest in his design, Finot set up his business Groupe Finot in Vannes, France in 1973.
In 1985 Pascal Conq, another French designer joined the group. Conq’s pedigree was impeccable and he is. To this day, regarded as a quiet genius. Indeed in 1982 Conq had invented the canting keel, so his expertise and innovation was a fantastic addition to the group.
Together they have designed over 200 boats for clients around the world. In the period 1978 to 2017, they designed 61 boats for the famous French boatbuilders Beneteau alone.
It is believed that over 25,000 boats designed and built by this combination were sold worldwide. in 2009 the design aspect of the group was taken over by a new company, Finot-Conq SARL leaving the original company to concentrate on research.
Apart from designing some of the most often seen sail-cruisers this firm was also designing world-beating racing yachts.
The racing yachts designed by this group are fast and stable with a characteristic wide beam which increases the ability of the boats to carry more canvas. This ethos and design went against the prevailing vogue to have thin narrow boats but was a design feature that has now been more widely adopted.
Finot considers that the elegance of a yacht is a feature that should be worked on and that each boat should have the elegance of a bird.
Race credits for boats designed by Finot/Finot-Conq were plentiful, winning amongst others the Admiral’s Cup ten Mini Transat races and having success in four editions of the Vendée Globe races, with 20 out of 25 starters making it home, over the years.
The Global Solo Challenge (GSC) has five yachts designed by this group, three of which are Class40s from Quimper (France) based boatbuilders Pogo Structures: one Pogo 40 sailed by Amaury de Jamblinne and and two Pogo 40s sailed respectively by François Gouin and Juan Merediz. Designed by Finot-Conq and built by JVB Industries in France, are the Open 40 Imagine (formerly called Anazasi Girl) will be sailed by American skipper Peter Bourke and the Open 50 originally built for Brad Van Liew with the name “Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America” which will be sailed by Canadian William MacBrien.
These boats combine safery and the pleasure of downwind surfing.
With yachts of this pedigree and calibre of design, then I would not be surprised to see a Finot-Conq designed boat being in the honours of the Global Solo Challenge.