Route du Rhum: how the decorations of racing boats are born – Route du Rhum

Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe, departure on November 6 from Saint-Malo

They are four, maybe five, but hardly more, to put colors on the carbon hulls and the sails of racing boats. Jean-Baptiste Epron and Nicolas Gilles are among those magicians who bring logos and brands to life on racing boats: “It’s an image vector for the company, but we don’t do it in a city or in a stadium: this image develops in the center of nature. Although beauty is totally subjective, I try to sell things that are not “vulgar”. OK, we can put color in nature, draw the eye, but not with a big, unsightly cabinet.. .”, says Jean-Baptiste Epron.

If the latter works alone, the Rennais Nicolas Gilles relies on a team: “It’s teamwork, which is fundamental for me. I feed on others: the naive, false leads, which may very well lead you to very interesting things. There are boats that are decorated with people who have nothing to do with sailing and this is often very successful”.

“I imagine how the boats will behave”

Two fundamentally different ways of working and boats with distinctive signatures. If Jean-Baptiste Epron put his paw on 34 of the 138 boats, Nicolas Gilles, who studied Fine Arts in Paris, designed the decoration of 13 of them. But to achieve their goal, both naturally start from specifications drawn up by the partner and his skipper.

“It’s a real exchange. Before I imagine how I will decorate it, I look at its forms, the work of the architect, the designer, the aerodynamics and all the developments with the foils… I imagine how it will behave. At the beginning the foilers pitched up, as the flight was not very well controlled… This allowed certain parts to be used. Today, while the boats sail flatter, it no longer makes sense to put things under”, explains Epron, who often starts from a drawing, like Nicolas Gilles: “For example, Viranga, the 40 feet on which I put the gorilla. , it was me who drew it and I had fun. Emmanuel Hamez, the skipper, lives in Kigali in Rwanda. This boy bought this boat as an enlightened amateur and he said to himself “since I don’t have a big brand to put on it, I want to have fun”. We talked and he told me that he was very much in love with the gorillas he was seeing. He wanted to defend their cause. So I told him about Rahan, son of Crâo, and he replied “great, chick”! “.

Route du Rhum: how the decorations of racing boats are born
(Photos Nicolas Gilles and Benjamin Sellier)

Olive oil in a pan for motorsport

Getting there requires hours of work, an artist’s imagination and a lot of back and forth with the boat’s crew. Jean-Baptiste Epron says: “There is a sketch phase. Then, I scan them, I rework them and between two round trips, if I need to make the drawing more aggressive, I take it out on a sheet, I scribble, I redo the drawings… I like to by passing a moment when I have a pencil in my hand, when I am working on a material. When I create shapes, I sometimes take sand, a hair dryer and I see what happens. Or with Indian ink on an aluminum plate, or on a pan at different temperatures with a little olive oil: you film, you put the images on a screen and you deform them, you play with … Arkéa Paprec, for example, I have the form with Indian ink”.

To get to the final decoration of Jérémie Beyou's 60-footer, Nicolas Gilles used his pencil line and was inspired by Formula 1...
To get to the final decoration of Jérémie Beyou’s 60-footer, Nicolas Gilles used his pencil line and was inspired by Formula 1… (Photos Designe)

But both of them love the boats first: “I like to talk to the designers of the boats to see where to put the colors and what shapes to use so that they fall in the right place. And emphasize it. My job is to dress up these boats and highlight their features. They are unique pieces every time”.

Unique pieces that must be dressed as beautifully as possible so that they find their place in nature. “There are graphical limitations, technical limitations, weight, heat as well. Because some dark colors depending on how the boat is built, if you put too dark colors on it, it softens the boat,” says Epron.

Nicolas Gilles adapts to restrictions: “The more you are restricted, the better. This is what I like because the limitation forces you to go out and look for side roads. You have to think, thanks to the drawings, I think a lot in the train, the bus… I have a lot of sketchbooks”. Sketches he drew up for Jérémie Beyou’s new “Charal” with inspiration from motorsport and especially the 24 Hours of Le Mans: “We started with performance. I wanted to give this boat speed: all the stripes are the idea of ​​speed. I also wanted to give the idea of ​​the pirate and the ghost ship, because it goes by very quickly.”

Jean-Baptiste Epron (34 boats)

Finally (6/7): Francis Joyon (Idec Sport); Francois Gabart (SVR Lazartigue); Armel Le Cléac’h (People’s Bank); Charles Caudrelier (Gitana); Yves Le Blevec (Actual Ultim); Arthur Le Vaillant (Better).

Ocean Fifty (3/8): Eric Péron (Komilfo); Sam Goodchild (Leyton); Sebastien Rogues (Priomnial).

Imoca (9/37): Justine Mettraux (TeamWork); Maxime Sorel (V&B – Monbana – Mayenne); Nicolas Troussel (Corum Savings); Romain Attanasio (Fortinet – Best Western); Eric Bellion (As one man powered by Altavia); Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut); Boris Herrmann (Malizia Sea Scout); Kevin Escoffier (Holcim-PRB); Benjamin Ferré (Monnoyeur – Duo for a job).

Mono Rum (2/13): Catherine Chabaud (Formatives ESI Business School for Ocean as Common); Jean-Pierre Dick (Our Mediterranean – City of Nice)

Rum Multi (4/15): Brieuc Maisonneuve (CMA Ile de France – 60,000 rebounds); Loic Escoffier (Lodi Group); Roland Jourdain (We Explore); Philippe Poupon (Flo).

To arrive at the final decoration, Jean-Baptiste Epron proposes several designs and discusses a lot with the teams to find the best compromise that remains elegant.
To arrive at the final decoration, Jean-Baptiste Epron proposes several designs and discusses a lot with the teams to find the best compromise that remains elegant. (Photo Jean-Baptiste Epron)

Nicolas Gilles (13 boats)

Imoca (4/37) : Jeremy Beyou (Charal 2); Alan Roura (Hublot); Isabelle Joschke (MACSF); Arnaud Boissières (La Mie Câline/Artipôle).

Class 40 (6/55) : Luke Berry (Lamotte Immobilier – Creation module); Jean Galfione (Serenis Consulting); Simon Koster (Bank of Lake Geneva); Amélie Grassi (The baker); Martin Louchart (Randstad-Ausy); Emmanuel Hamez (Viranga).

Ocean Fifty (3/8) : Gilles Lamiré (GCA Group – 1001 smiles); Erwan Le Roux (Koesio); Armel Tripon (Les Petites Doudous).

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