It is a strategic piece of equipment for single-handed sailors: with the passing of innovations, the autopilot has become an extremely sophisticated product, which a handful of players are able to design and develop.
In this highly competitive market, Madintec, a start-up from La Rochelle created in 2012, has managed to make its mark in just a few years. To the point where it now equips 9 of the 33 boats that set off in the Vendée Globe - including some big names like PRB, Initiatives Coeur, Apivia, LinkedOut and Arkéa Paprec - as well as four Ultimes and four Multi50s. The company, which is also present in Lorient, is now targeting the Class40 market where it wants to deploy MADbrain, its autopilot solution.
Founded by two America's Cup engineers, Matthieu Robert and David Cesari, Madintec originally supplied Bravo navigation systems, known for their quality of true wind measurement. It made a strategic shift in 2016: "We were frustrated with working with pilots who were not our own, so we decided to develop our own product from scratchWe were frustrated with working with pilots who were not our own, so we decided to "go for it", explains Matthieu Robert. With a set of specifications that can be summed up in three words: simplicity, reliability and performance.”
After raising funds, Madintec expanded its team - 10 people today, mostly developers, engineers and doctors - and set up a precise strategy. In each class, a partnership is established with a skipper to develop a customised pilot, configured according to the specificities of the boats in the class. François Gabart in the Ultime class, Lalou Roucayrol in the Multi50 class and Sam Davies in the Imoca class were the first to be equipped with the Madintec pilot.
In Class40, it is Ian Lipinski who has been testing the solution developed specifically for 40-foot monohulls since the launch of his David Raison Crédit Mutuel, in September 2019, the solution developed especially for 40-foot monohulls. The two-time winner of the Mini-Transat admits he is bluffed: "I've never had such a good driver in my hands. As early as the Transat Jacques Vabre [which he won, editor's note], he was steering well, thanks in particular to the hyper-intuitive operating modes, which are very close to the way a skipper behaves, in particular when the boat heels over. Today, 90% of the time, the pilot steers better than meToday, he's a very good sailor and, above all, he makes very few mistakes.
An efficiency that is the result of new algorithms and significant computing power developed by Madintec. "Our pilots have rudder touch accuracy to the nearest tenth of a degreeOur pilots have an accuracy of 0.7 to 1 degree, whereas in general, it is around 0.7 to 1 degree," explains Hugo Kerhascoët, the scientific director. The other advantage, these are the "supervision" modes which allow the pilot to deviate from the traditional instructions of course and true wind angle to take into account other important criteria for performance such as heel, apparent wind and speed, for example, and thus prioritise getting closer to the goal."
The new pilot for Class40s, available in the first quarter of 2021, benefits from two additional innovations. "Firstly, the integration of the navigation system and the pilot in the same box. the same housingFirstly, the integration of the navigation system and the pilot in the same box, with a new processor that is four times faster than that of the current Imoca boats", announces Benoît Piquemal, the technical director of Madintec, who has worked with the Gitana Team and MerConcept. Then the first calibrations of the control unit - essential to the good conduct of the pilot - will be included in the pack: "We are not just selling a box, we are offering an integrated service". The next Class40s to be equipped are those ofAntoine Carpentier andAxel Tréhin.
Photo: Breschi / Crédit Mutuel
Original publication on Tip ans Shaft: https://bit.ly/3tXNhS0