Mar 3, 2013

Raphael Censier: 19 yrs Old, Designer, Builder, Racer, Alumni & Frequent Flyer...

Last Thursday I asked "Guess Who is Flying?"  and published a great still of a legal A-Class airborne. The sailor Flying in that image is Raphael Censier, a French young kid, 19yrs old.
Flying is no novelty now a days with the Americas Cup AC72s plus several hydroptere like project with huge foils  outside any racing class I posted in the past.
I think what people could relate more with this image was seeing a -racing- beachcat elevated in mid air,  wondering "how about me?"  All beyond the flighting concept being proven while racing...phrase that it seems I have to repeat to infinite loop...

But this is just  a detail on Raphael's work. He is a prolific Carbon Master by now. And it is great to see how the A-Class encourage home builds,  it was a key factor for him to chose over other classes.

Expect to see him in more great projects in the future, right now his present is brilliant.

Raphael is a committed student aiming High. With kids like him, the future and progression of our craft assisted sport is guaranteed. Keep pushing the limits kid.
More images, videos at
- CSN: I've seen you are a prolific designer/builder of water crafts, when did you start getting interested in building and why?


Raphael Censier: When I was 6 years old I fix my carbon Windsurf boards. Afterwards I started looking for a construction project for my Lycee years (14 to 17) and I also wanted to have my own catamaran. I started to build my first kayak at age 14 when I was in second year.
At first I thought to update a Nacra 5.7 but I finally chose to built an A-Cat. With its building process freedom and alternatives, an A is the best suited boat to home build.

- CSN: How old are you and what are you studying?
RC: Now I'm 19 and in second year of scientific preparatory class. I stop building until summer holiday to take my exams.

- CSN: Which projects you have finished and which are you working on right now?
RC: All my constructions were to progress in my project to build an A-Cat. I started to build a kayak out of carbon-kevlar to learn use how to manage composites.
I had some problems with the vacuum at first but the kayak was finally a success. I presented it during an event to raise funds for Cystic Fibrosis research. In that event a Hovercraft racer proposed me to build him his hovercraft for his 2010 to 2012 season.

That was a good opportunity to finance a large part of my A-Class building. Alain Larribe finish 2nd in the Hovercraft world championship 2010 and he won the European Championship in 2011.

I built all composites parts exactly in same way as my kayak. Mold comes from IUT (University Institutes of Technology).

Then I built a second kayak, this time out of carbon to test the number of carbon layers that I need for the A. Finally, I completely changed the method of construction after going to the Paris JEC show, I decided to make my catamaran in monolithic with a solid internal structure.

Then I built a second A-cat just after finishing mine for Remy David, who founded X-Voile, in exchange he allowed me to get my sail mast and my trampoline.

- CSN: Your AClass carbon hull has a clever symmetric build method, tell us about it
RC: There are two ways to obtain a rigid hull. With a thick sandwich construction, or monolithic layup with an internal structure such Mirabaud LX.
I chose the second option for several reasons:

I use the symmetrical build method to build a single mold. It is also a good wave piercing solution.

- CSN: Are you racing with it? How its doing against other prod boats?
RC: I have not race that much, just two regattas: First regatta corresponded with the first navigation of my boat and second regattta when I receive my new mast and new sail.
Currently I have no problem in broad reach but I still have some difficulties when close hauled

- CSN: I've Seen some flying pics of your A, are you flying within the rules box?
RC: Yes I respect the A-cat rules, the target is to fly in broad reach and not be penalized in close hauled

At first I didn't planned to fly. A year ago I built my curved board, at the beginning it was longer (without following A-cat rules) and I 'jumped' regularly. Then I cut my foil and put it within the rules. I'm with this configuration for a year now, but last week I managed to 'jump' better.
This is probably also on my positioning on the boat and the way I helm. This way of helming is also new and hard to fine tune for the Nacra 17 crews.

- CSN: Which conf are you using ? Rudder winglets included?
RC: My port foil is a home build and starboard is a DNA. I have nothing extra on rudders.
It's really unstable because I fly just on one foil. Nothing on rudder and the starboard foil is too undersized. I am actually in similar configuration as Nacra 17.

When I'll finish my exams I will build 4 new foils. Two daggerboards like my current port foil and L foil for rudder like A-class Paradox. I built my foil with a traditional building monolithic plus vacuum.

- CSN: Tell me more about the feeling of being in the air...

RC: When the boat flies, you are totally excited. I know I can’t fly just on one good foil so I search for a solution to stabilize it. You can see in this video, how it accelerates and how much I'm working.

I also feel new sensations and ways to manage control with my foots.
I flew three times until now. My three lastest sails. But they were my first flights without enough wind speed. I hope find out why I loose lift, but the Martin Fischer's L rudder (Note: Mayfly, GC32, Paradox) solution will create a smoother flight.

- CSN: Future projects?
RC: I'll try to stabilize my flying A-cat, then I would like to race trying to prove the effeciency of flying while racing. In the future, I would like do same the as I do now but with more racing time and R&D. So I'm going to study Engineering for 3 years and next maybe going for the Architect institute of Southampton to learn English and Hydrodynamics.
But I love built, so I hope I will be able to balance work, build, and racing time, as I want to do the three of them.
More images, videos at

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