The French schooner yacht Velox


midship frame of the Velox (draft Jacques-Augustin Normand)

Extracted from Howell's Steam Vessels and Marine Engines (1896)
Now that England and America's attention is once more attracted to schooner yachts through the regattas for this kind of vessel, it may be interesting to publish the plans of a thoroughly French yacht which, although dating several years back, gives no leeway to similar foreign yachts. Built in Le Havre in 1875 by Jacques-Augustin Normand, who obliged us with the plans, the Velox shows remarkable improvements and special features, showing a great advance over foreign constructions, as these novel forms were only applied later to a number of celebrated foreign yachts in her wake. Mr. C. Maurice Chevreux, in an elaborate article, published in The Yacht of April 13th, 1895, has, moreover, brought out forcibly these characteristics which are found in certain racing yachts recently built in England. The outlines of the Velox, a combination of those then in use partly in England and in America, call at first for stability of ballast and for width of water line. The hull of the Velox is, therefore, in reality a conglomeration of two hulls brought together by softened curves, a broad hull with a weak depth on the lines of the celebrated Sappho and under that upper one another very narrow one, very high, intended to receive the ballast. The length of the second receptacle is so great, in proportion to its width, that its resistance is hardly more than the surface friction, and, notwithstanding the capacity, is such that it can accommodate in a low draught, without injuring the stability or solidity, all the ballast necessary. The center volume is placed at a slight distance from the water line and the dLsplacement rather lessened, so that the hight of the metacenter (half center) above the center (which is inversely proportionate of the displacement) becomes considerable. The metacenter is located 1 meter and 42 centimeters above the water line. This is of exceptional value for a yacht having a great stability of weight. It will be seen what enormous distance from the center of gravity to the metacenter could be possibly obtained if the total of the ballast was lead and if the lower hull was consequently reduced. The low displacement in proportion to the volume of freeboard, allows the ship to rise very easily with the wave, and the nautical qualities are very good indeed. The board lines are composed of two diagonal and one longitudinal line. The first, running from front to rear, are only present in the center part. The second, running in an opposite direction, covers the ends in connection with a longitudinal outer layer. There are, therefore, three thicknesses of very thin woodwork in the middle and only two at the ends. These layers, powerfully riveted, form a surface as rigid as a metallic hull. It was also possible to allow a considerable distance between frames which admitted of a very light construction. Iron stanchions, inserted into the sides, bind the bridge and frame and prevent a deformation of the transversal lines.

The keel is very large (96 cm) hanging free in the center and supports a leaden keel. The yacht is not at all intended for racing, and, moreover, the proportion of lead in the total make-up of the balla.st is exceptionally weak (25.5 tons on 87 tons of total weight). Yet the vessel carried very readily one of the greatest expanses of canvas of any existing yacht. Important modification would have been necessary if it was intended to apply the same system of outlines to a racing vacht; But it appears that the plan gives a maximum of carrying power and stability, which is the intrinsic motive power of a sailing vacht, as it conditions the quantity of canvas. The Velox is by her dimensions, qualities and beauty of shape before all a high sea vessel and compares advantageously with the best English and American yachts of her type. Let us quote by comparison now as to yachts of her kind, more recent constructions, like the Ambassadress; the fine schooner Constellation, by Burgess; Yampa; Alcæ; and in England, Enchantress, Cetonia, Waterwitch, etc. Let us compare the Velox with the Coronet, which dates but from 1886, and was built by Cornelius & Richard Poillon in Brooklyn, New York.

VeloxCoronet
year of launch18751886
designer:Jacques-Augustin NormandWilliam Townsend
builder:Chantiers et Ateliers Augustin Normand (Le Havre)Cornelius & Richard Poillon (Brooklyn)
total length:42.21m40.54m
Load Waterline Length:37.50m37.49m
beam:7.20m8.23m
draught:3.91m3.78m
ballast:87 tons126 tons
sail area:959m²772m²
displacement:249 tons277 tons

transversal rig plan, sailplan, body plan and deck layout of the Velox (draft Jacques-Augustin Normand)

Longitudinal interior plan, overhead frame plan, interior layout, sheer plan and half-breadth plan of the Velox (draft Jacques-Augustin Normand)


Following is a key to the letters shown in the plan of the interior of the Velox:
A owner's cabin
B cabins
C toilet
D hall
F saloon
G dining-room
H officers' mess
I captain's cabin
C bunks
M buffets
N pantry
O second officer's cabin
P lockers
Q cook's cabin
S galley
T wash room
U quartermaster's cabin
V mail room

These drawings were first published by Le Yacht, Paris, at a time when the shapes and lines of vessels were often analysed to great extent. The lines of the Velox were redrawn by Fran├žois Chevalier in 1993, in the Musée Maritime de la Rochelle's attempt to draw interest in building a replica of the vessel, which was the largest sailing yacht built in France until Alain Colas' 1975 four-mast schooner Club Med a century later. The Velox was not considered however, instead the 34-gun frigate Hermione replica project was favoured, a more considerable challenge to build and to sail, and unlikely to be handled to full potential. However it is interesting to note that the yacht Coronet (1885), which served for the table comparison in the article, still exists and is currently undergoing a US$15m rebuild at the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport. The Hermione is awaiting for her topmasts whilsts the framing of the Coronet has just completed.
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