MIKE GOLDING is back in the very familiar surroundings of Les Sables d’Olonne after arriving last night into the Port Olona marina with his IMOCA Open 60 Gamesa, following a fast and pleasingly uneventful passage from Southampton, UK.
Accompanied by his team of preparateurs, Graham Tourell and Mikey Ferguson, and met by his composite engineer, Ian McCabe, Golding arrived at the famous start port for the 2012-2013 Vendée Globe just in time to catch the last of the tide which allowed them to move directly into the marina.
Golding commented, “It is really good to be back and it was lovely arriving last night. We were met by a couple of RIBs and there were people on the canal side cheering and people at their windows and balconies welcoming us. It is a very nice reminder of the warmth and passion that the people of Les Sables d’Olonne have for the race and its skippers.”
Gamesa is the fourth IMOCA Open 60, of an expected fleet of 20, to take her place in the marina, the second to arrive from outside the Vendée region after Kito de Pavant’s Groupe Bel.
“We had a really good range of conditions, sailing in full Vendée mode, fully loaded with spares and food and we pressed the boat pretty hard. We were just footing a lot of the time, not hard on the wind, and then had some fast reaching from Ushant doing 23-24knots and everything was fine. We did some good miles at speed with some nice surfing,” recalled Golding.
“It is exciting to be here. After the long build up to eventually be here now feels really good. We all went for a nice meal together, steak frites of course, and reflected how much time we have spent here over the 12 years: it adds up to quite a bit!”
The Gamesa technical team have a moderately comprehensive list of work to get through over the coming days, but all of the tasks are relatively small.
“I have to say I really am happy with the shape the boat is in. I don’t think I have been here before feeling so well prepared. Usually there is something niggling with the boat, you are waiting for some part, or something random you are worrying about, but this time I am happy with where we are at. Thankfully that reflects our time investment this summer in making sure that we reach this point with the boat and the hard work by the shore team. And if that has been at the expense of sailing time on the water then I am fine with that. It has been a bit of a frustrating summer, but to have three weeks to go before the start and be here like this, this is where I have always wanted to be. I can say we are better prepared with the boat than ever before.”
Golding will return home to England this evening, returning to Les Sables d’Olonne at the weekend for the official opening to the public of the Vendée Globe race village. This will be followed by a few days of media interviews and commitments, before the final build up, which will start on 2 November, when Golding will be joined by the full complement of the Gamesa Sailing Team as they count down the final days to the start of the 2012-2013 edition.
The Artemis Challenge welcomes IMOCA 60s and MOD 70s to Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week on August 16th
The world’s fastest offshore monohulls and multihulls set to race around the Isle of Wight for charity
For the sixth straight year the Artemis Challenge will be one of the highlights of the 2012 Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, the world’s largest sailing regatta and one of the UK’s biggest sporting events. In a new twist to the classic route around the Isle of Wight, the 2012 Artemis Challenge will see teams of monohull IMOCA 60s and multihull MOD 70s race around the island to claim £10,000 for charity. A world class line up of British Vendée Globe skippers helming high performance IMOCA 60s will be paired up with the latest generation MOD 70s to compete together in the 50 mile sprint on August 16th.
The Artemis Challenge will welcome back the best British offshore racers before they take on the mighty challenge of the Vendée Globe in November when they will race singlehandedly around the world. The start line for IMOCA 60s will include Mike Golding (Gamesa) and Artemis Ocean Racing II. They will be joined by the fastest class of cutting edge designed 70 ft multihulls, with legendary French skipper Michel Desjoyeaux skippering Foncia, Sidney Gavignet on Oman Sail and Swiss racer Steve Ravussin on Race for Water.
Mark Tyndell, CEO of Artemis Investment Management, said, “The return of the Artemis Challenge continues the legacy of this wonderful event. We are pleased to welcome back some of the best British solo skippers in the world as they prepare for the Vendée Globe, as well as welcoming for the first time the impressive MOD 70s, skippered by some of the biggest names in offshore racing. Both sets of boats should deliver a fantastic spectacle and compete to raise money for great causes.”
The Artemis Challenge, sponsored by Artemis Investment Management, one of the UK’s leading investment companies, is recognised as one of the key events of Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week and is a magnificent spectacle, showcasing the best of offshore racing within easy reach of spectators. The race follows the classic America’s Cup route around the Isle of Wight, starting at 10 AM on the Royal Yacht Squadron Line.
The Artemis Challenge at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week has long attracted a strong list of celebrity guests. Teams competing in the race in the past have included sports stars Zara Phillips, Amy Williams, Will Greenwood, Mike Tindall and James Haskell, as well as other stars from the world of entertainment, such as Ewan McGregor, Davina McCall, Bryan Adams and James and Oliver Phelps, the Weasley Twins from the Harry Potter movies.
8 tonnes of carbon fibre yacht, a 255 horsepower jet ski, 45 combined years of sailing experience, and one crazy guy in a suit. ‘We’ve got a safety boat, a film boat, a jet ski… all we need is a plane, man!’ said Alex Thomson, shortly before heading out into the waters of The Solent in the UK to attempt what he calls ‘The Keel Walk’, a stunt that has become infamous throughout the world thanks to the iconic image of Alex ‘riding’ the keel of his 60ft yacht ‘HUGO BOSS’. ‘But everyone always assumes it was ‘Photoshopped’,’ said Alex ‘and I was determined to prove them wrong, so we decided to try again.’ Easier said than done…to sail at the right speed to keep the keel out of the water for long enough for Alex to get on it, you need 18 knots of wind, a slight sea state and a seriously cool-headed skipper. ‘We’d wake up one day and the conditions would look just right, so we’d sound the alarm and get the boat prepped, bring in the jet ski guy, the RIB driver, the photographer, the camera guys… I’m in the suit, ready to go…and the wind drops. It was hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait.’
Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret arrived in Le Havre this afternoon and besides a few remaining minor preparations, they are race ready.
Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret arrived in Le Havre this afternoon after a three day delivery.
The skipper of Mirabaud was on top form: “Everything went smoothly. We encountered a full range of conditions during the trip and were able to push the boat to its maximum. It coped very well and we are feeling good ten days from the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre.
Dominique and Michèle left La Rochelle on Tuesday morning and beat upwind in rough conditions to Ushant before easing the sheets and rocketing downwind to Le Havre. The breeze dropped out towards the end of the trip which also gave them a chance to test their light air sails. “We arrived in Le Havre in bright, warm sunshine, it was very pleasant! described Dominique.
The Transat Jacques Vabre starts at 13:02 on the 30 October in Le Havre and 35 racing yachts – including 13 IMOCAs – will cross the line and race for Puerto Limon in Costa Rica where they are expected to arrive two weeks later.
Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret have been sailing with their new mast for a month now and they are very happy with it. “We have been sailing at 100% of our polars, meaning that we are sailing at the theoretical maximum speed for the conditions. It is a very good sign. On the other hand, we are clearly lacking practice when it comes to our manoeuvres because the whole deck layout has changed. I hope there won’t be too much need for manoeuvring at the start!
With 10 days remaining until the start signal, Dominique and Michèle’s days will be busy, but only with tying up loose ends. Preparations are well in hand and the skipper plans for a calm approach to the start of the race.
The waiting is nearly over: the 44th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race, one of the great ocean challenges is just 2 weeks away. With a staggering 350 entrants at the ready, 1979’s record-breaking tally of 303 participating yachts will almost certainly be surpassed. The sheer size of the fleet is impressive. Its quality and diversity quite breathtaking. Inspiring and exhilarating in equal measure, there is every reason to believe that the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race will maintain the event’s pioneering and prestigious tradition.
The numbers game
Due to the Rolex Fastnet’s unique allure, event organisers the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) never have any difficulty ensuring that there is a large and impressive fleet in attendance. This year is no exception. Entries came in thick and fast and were closed within ten days of opening in January. However, the requests kept arriving. After being inundated with additional enquiries from the Volvo Open 70s, the IMOCA 60s, Class 40s and Multihulls to join the 608-nautical mile marathon, the RORC adjusted the entry limit to allow these ‘professional’ classes to be counted above the initial cut-off mark.
The Rolex Fastnet Race commences from Cowes on Sunday 14 August (the first signal sounds at 10:50 BST). Whilst crews with the ambition of being the fastest to the finish will hope to spend only one or two nights at sea, spare a thought for those at the back of the pack, for whom a near week in often punishing conditions may be the order of the day.
Rambler 100 enjoying Leopard hunt
Short of a catastrophic breakdown, the fastest boat on the water at the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race will be the 100-foot trimaran, Banque Populaire (FRA), which just broke the round the Britain Isles record by almost a day and a half. However, the battle for monohull line honours is the most anticipated clash and is expected to be the privilege of two other 100-ft challengers: Mike Slade’s ICAP Leopard (GBR), first elapsed-time finisher in the past two editions, and arch-rivals George David’s Rambler 100 (USA). The two crews know each other extremely well, given their series of tussles in recent months. A head-to-head battle in the Transatlantic Race, which saw Rambler 100 ease to line honours after ICAP Leopard lost her bowsprit, the freshest encounter.
“Having won the Rolex Fastnet Race twice, the big play is to win three in a row, which would be quite exceptional,” explains Slade, whose yacht also holds the course record of 1 day, 20 hours and 18 minutes [set in 2007]. “During the RORC Caribbean 600, Rambler 100 proved to be the faster boat in her ideal conditions. However, Rambler 100 may also need to protect herself in bad weather, more than ICAP Leopard. We feel we have a good chance in light and heavy airs, it is the bit in between that we might have a problem! I am really looking forward to the Fastnet, it should be a very exciting race but above all else, I don’t want to lose our record to Rambler 100, that would be heartbreaking and we will vigorously defend it.”
Rambler 100 is as keen to renew hostilities. “We’re anticipating sailing in Cowes Week from 9-11 August and hope ICAP Leopard and others will be competing as well,” explains David, “we’ve had three races together already, the Caribbean 600, the Annapolis to Newport and now the Transatlantic Race. Rambler 100 took line honours and corrected ahead of ICAP Leopard in all three.”
David is fervent about the upcoming Fastnet Race and describes his own personal highlights of the parcours: “Beating out through The Needles in a huge fleet, the beauty of the south coast of England, the approach to the [Fastnet] Rock, and the wind and weather conditions all over the place.”
Whilst these two ocean greyhounds are clear monohull line honours favourites, they may not have it all their own way. There is the significant presence of six Volvo 70s, including two of the latest breed: Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Groupama IV (FRA). Then there is the Mini Maxi class including defending Rolex Fastnet handicap winner, the 72-ft Rán (GBR), owned by Niklas Zennström, in addition to Andres Soriano’s Mills 68 Alegre (GBR), a fantastic campaigner in the Mediterranean in recent seasons. Throwing in the American challengers, the STP65 Vanquish, and the Reichel-Pugh 66 Zaraffa, who like ICAP Leopard and Rambler 100 competed in the Transatlantic Race, it promises to be a tight contest at the top of the fleet.
Tales from the foreign third
Of the record breaking 350 yachts competing at this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race, approximately a third are non-British crews. A scan of the 2011 entry list highlights the global pull of the event, with yachts competing from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, China, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, the UAE and the USA.
Karl Kwok, owner of the 80-ft Beau Geste (HKG), will be taking part in the event for the third time. “I am definitely here for the challenge as this is one of the most interesting and competitive offshore races in the world,” he explains. “My first time here was in 1995, followed by my second appearance in the last edition [in 2009]. We did well on that occasion, but it could be better still!” Kwok adores offshore racing: “For me the top three blue water offshore classics are the Fastnet, Sydney to Hobart and Newport to Bermuda – in that order. And Rolex has the top two!” Beau Geste will be another yacht snapping at the heels of the 100-footers and also arrive in Cowes fresh from competing in the Transatlantic Race.
One overseas crew in particular has reason to treasure its association with the Rolex Fastnet. Six years ago, Frenchman Jean Yves Chateau’s 33-ft Nicholson Iromiguy won the competition on corrected time, the first time in three decades that the overall prize had been won by a yacht under 40 feet. For the Saint Malo-based skipper, the victory was both a surprise and a fulfilment of an ambition: “To win the Rolex Fastnet Race was like a childhood dream, it is like an ‘Everest’ in my life and in the life of each member of my crew: absolutely fantastic, unbelievable, gorgeous, not to mention the incredible fact of having beaten all the big guys. It was also very important for me to be the third French sailor to win this race and to have my name engraved on this Cup close to Eric Tabarly [the legendary French skipper who won the race in 1967]!”
Regarding the ‘draw’ of the Rolex Fastnet, Chateau continues: “It is a mythical race. This year will be our seventh time and we are always very pleased and enthusiastic to participate with the crazy dream of winning it one more time.” Amongst the sizeable French contingent is the intriguing story of the IMOCA 60 DCNS 100 (FRA), sailed by skipper Marc Thiercelin and his famous apprentice, former downhill skier and endurance motorsport driver, Luc Alphand. DCNS 100 is one of seven IMOCA 60s, including Cheminées Poujoulat (SUI) launched in May this year.
John Towers is helming the J/122 Oojah (GBR) with a US-based crew joining British boat owner Peter Tanner, their navigator for the race. The English Channel is some distance from their usual racing haven of the east coast of the United States. “As a group of Americans, we consider the Rolex Fastnet Race to be a once in a lifetime adventure that is a natural compliment to our passion for distance racing,” explains Towers, “the Fastnet is a big deal for us and an adventure that we have been planning for the last two years.”
Tanner continues: “Our goal will be the same as any other race we enter. Priority one is a safe passage. Priority two is that the experience is very positive for all members of the crew. Our third priority is to be competitive.”
Triple TP52 challenge
The three TP52s competing at the Rolex Fastnet Race will resume their engagement having been near inseparable at the recent Giraglia Rolex Cup. On that occasion, Franck Noël’s Near Miss (SUI) finished the 243-nautical mile race less than two minutes ahead of Johnny Vincent’s Pace (GBR). Bryon Ehrhart’s Lucky (USA) was only a further hour behind. On corrected time, only seven places separated the three crews, with Pace coming out on top. Over a considerably longer distance, this ‘race within a race’ will be one to follow come August.
Back of the pack
The crew of the Contessa-32 Drumbeat (GBR) will likely have one opportunity to admire ICAP Leopard and Rambler 100 – during the passage out of the Solent. For co-skippers and brothers-in-law, Mark Himsworth and Pierre Walrafen, the race ahead will be one of endurance and, at times, solitude: “It feels amazing to be one of the smallest and slowest boats competing, tacking or gybing down the Solent against much larger and faster machines after the start. All the while competing on handicap directly against them,” explains Himsworth, who will be taking part in the Rolex Fastnet for a third time.
The reality soon becomes quite different, as Himsworth reveals: “After 24 hours, most of the competition is long gone. Thereafter it’s occasionally difficult to keep your mind away from the thought of the faster boats turning towards (or arriving at) Plymouth while ours plugs steadily westwards round Land’s End. It’s a pretty solitary undertaking when you’re on watch and your co-skipper’s sleeping and none of your competitors are visible, but that’s all part of the attraction, and there’s still plenty going on in Plymouth when we arrive!”
The main trophy for overall victory in the Rolex Fastnet is the Fastnet Challenge Cup. In addition, there are more than 30 additional trophies that will be awarded at the prize giving on Friday, 19 August at the historic Royal Citadel, home of the 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, overlooking Plymouth Sound and Sutton Harbour, where the majority of the fleet will berth.
In what has amounted to a very intense, tactical ninth edition of the Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale, with very many transitions and changes to negotiate Roland Jourdain sailed an impeccable race, consistently choosing a routing for best wind pressure rather than taking unnecessary risks to cut miles. When he had the opportunity he consolidated to manage the fleet, keeping them directly behind him.
In some respects it was a leaders’ race and Jourdain was never out of the top three, at the front for ten of 13 days.
As they worked west after Ushant he chose to tack north later than Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air).
The key move was on the afternoon of Tuesday 2nd when he tacked north in better wind pressure, and by the following afternoon, while both Armel Le Cléac’h erred a little too far south and snared himself in light winds as did Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac 3) Jourdain was ahead, turning a deficit of 3 miles to a lead of 6 miles over that late afternoon.
After that Bilou was never overtaken. He was first to break through the front during Friday 5th and was able to emerge into the fast NE’ly conditions, his reward being a jump out to a 40 miles lead.
Le Cléac’h was first to gybe south on Saturday 6th, Jourdain held on and gained again as lined up to deal with Tomas, the tropical low.
Le Cléach’s early move took him south into less wind.
From here Jourdain has a lead of 55 miles on Thursday 11th when he has some 300 miles to Guadeloupe, and again his routing is spot-on. Le Cléach’s easterly position leaves him in lighter winds.
The leader’s benefit comes when he is into the light SW’ly headwinds, all the time with the fleet now in V formation behind him. And as Veolia Environnement reached the top of Guadeloupe he still had some 74 miles of margin over Brit Air.
Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air) quotes: “ The decision to go in the North was not really easy to make. And then there were many transition zones to manage. At that times you needed to be absolutely full on. Bilou did very well in those situations, I believe I did it as well but just after him. He really sailed a perfect race.”
“ I’m happy with this second place. We had a really good season with Brit’Air She was not the newest boat but I knew her very well and I had spent a lot of time with her. We really did great things with this boat. We had a few second places (Vendée Globe, The Transat and now the Route du Rhum but they have all been good. In IMOCA, we will see the level rise again in the next years. Our Transat Jacques Vabre was a bit difficult, that was necessary to bounce back.”
“We had difficult decisions to make at the very beginning of the race. Youneeded to choose that option knowing that it would have consequences forthe 15 next days. When you see Michel and Arnaud both heading South at the time, that certainly gives you a few doubts. “
“ I’m really tired because of the numerous manœuvres required and also the speed to maintain, you need to hold on in those conditions you are on your knees to stack you sails. It’s a bit of a war.
“ I’m happy to have finished. In the first night I discovered I had water on the boat and I had lost one alternator. I had to save energy : shut down the computer, switch off the boat lights at night. I ran short of gazoil since yesterday. It meant I had no way to charge the batteries, I could not cant the keel either. So I am really happy to be here.
” If I have an entry on the Vendée Globe in 2012, I will use this boat but we will have worked on her to make some improvements. We have a few ideas now on how to save some weight, to modify the aft deck layout. Options you can take to increase the performance. To participate in the Vendée Globe that is important
” My best memory is at the start. I was a bit nervous, that’s usually the case when you start this kind of race and, as I was sailing by the Pointe du Groin, I realized how many people were standing there and watching us sail away. It was quite emotional and I felt very small.
Guillemot swoops for third place on the IMOCA Podium Marc Guillemot staged a podium raid within the last 60 miles of the Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale transatlantic race stealing third place on the west coast of Guadeloupe when he sailed round the unfortunate long term tenant Jean-Pierre Dick whose Virbac-Paprec 3 was moving at less than half the pace that the IMOCA world champion was making, Arriving out of the north on Safran, having passed close to the east of Montserrat. Guillemot admitted his surprise at seeing the blue branded sails of Virbac-Paprec appear to his left, and when they were just over a mile apart he gybed away because Dick was clearly in a different wind, closer in to the island shore. Safran scarcely missed a beat and went on to passed the Basse Terre mark two and a half hours ahead of Dick
Guillemot, winner of last autumn’s Transat Jacques Vabre race to Costa Rica, paid tribute to both Roland Jourdain and Armel Le Cléac’h who respectively take the top two steps on the podium. But only two days ago Guillemot was back in fifth, behind Vincent Riou (PRB). Indeed on the 0800hrs ranking Sunday he was 28 miles behind deck, and as they converged at the Tête à l’Anglais at the top of the NW corner of the island, Guillemot was still some 20 miles behind.
The Safran solo skipper once more underlined how close the IMOCA Class is, not only highlighting that the races sailed by Jourdain and Le Cléac’h, but how little mistakes or breakdowns escalate to become significant deficits. In the early part of the race Guillemot was compromised by a problem with the halyard hook on his Solent, and also lost a spinnaker overboard.
Racing in his fourth Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale, Guillemot finished second overall in 2002 on Biscuits La Trinitaine, when only three multihulls finished.
Breaking the finish line off Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe at 01hrs 30mins 02secs today (Monday, CET/Paris) (Monday 00 hrs 30mins 02secs GMT/ Monday 20hrs 30mins 02secs local time (CET -4hrs)) Marc Guillemot on the IMOCA 60 Safran took third place in the IMOCA Class in the 9th Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale solo Transatlantic race which started from Saint-Malo, France at 1302hrs (CET) Sunday 31st October.
The elapsed time for Safran is 14 days 12hours 28minutes 02seconds
His average speed is 11.55kts for the distance he sailed of 3955 miles.
Over the theoretical course distance of 3539 miles Marc Guillemot’s average speed is 10.16knots
Guillemot finished 19hrs 17mins 06 secs after IMOCA Open 60 winner Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement
Jean-Pierre Dick finished this morning at 04h 13m 13s 9 (CET) taking fourth place, disappointed to have lost out to Marc Guillemot for third, but the Barcelona Race winner suffered with electrical problems the whole way, his battery system failing. His dockside de-brief suggests he feels he should have taken more time to re-assess and not be too head down in the problems, easy to say at this stage no doubt, but clearly he has some work to do on Virbac-Paprec 3, with only limited lead time to the Barcelona start and the boat on delivery by ship. Here is a short summary of what he had to say:
” We need to work on the boat so that don’t I spend my time head down trying to solve problems. The race was really physical and full on for me and I could not even take time to do other things besides what I was having to deal with, far less or think about me, to try to manage myself.
I’ve always been full on, so trying to manage my race and the problems that were happening all the time was not good for me . But overall I believe that I sailed the majority of the race in the top rankings which I am reasonably satisfied with. I have a few problems to sort out to control the boat when reaching. I need to work it out. I won’t even mention the batteries! Even only today they cut our four or five times.
But the basics of it are good. We have some time to tune the boat for the Barcelona World Race and then hopefully the boat and I for the Vendee Globe, that will be the important one for this boat.
Around the island Marco’s choices were impressive. For me I did not press the pedal at the right moment. I was expecting a different wind system. And that is frustrating, disappointing. But every setback allows you to make progress.
My knowledge of the island has improved a lot for the next Route du Rhum!
Crossing the finish line at 06h31m04s (CET/Paris(05h31m04s GMT) Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) took sixth place in the IMOCA Open 60 class, some 2d 00h 18m 08s after class winner Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement). The southern routing, one which also cost him dearly a year ago in the Transat Jacques Vabre, worked for the Ultimate class but this time it clearly did not work for the double Vendée Globe winner with his new VPLP/Verdier design. Desjoyeaux has had time to analyse his result and the way forwards, making ready for the Barcelona World Race which starts 31st December. “It would have been good if they had left us some wind for the finish because in the end it was bit too long at the end. Everyone says it’s a good trick to head off to the sun, but I went too early. We had looked at it and there were good chances of passing over the top, but it was on the Monday morning I took the decision. That was the best routing on the morning, I was on a good shift on the left with Kito and I wanted a trip to the south, I had wanted to go there for a while. I did what I wanted. From time to time you try things when you don’t know if they will be good or not so good. I expected to have 50 miles of deficit in the south of the Azores amticyclone and it was 150. There the mass was said.
I had the toolbox open once for a small allen key to tighten a small screw on the rudder, but I have a list of things to be improved. Speed-wise when you are on your own you are a world champion. The boat is good it was just important to learn how to put it in the right place. I wanted to go to the sun, I went to the sun.”
“He is a great winner. He is a double winner, and what more can you say? He positioned himself, always attacked, he sailed super good. He did not hesitate to push when he needed to and cover the fleet when he needed to. He did the whole race without any technical hitches and that allowed him to focus on his route and to make a beautiful race, more especially because there was a race. I have had time to digest this, now we move on. Life goes on. This is a beautiful boat, and I sufficiently happy with what I saw. We will turn the page.”
Foncia, Michel Desjoyeaux’s new 60-foot Imoca was launched yesterday afternoon (20 September) in Port-La-Forêt, France. After the design phase dating back to January, the latest generation VPLP/Verdier designed boat was built and assembled in record time – six months. Michel and his team now have just 40 days to get used to this highly original monohull before the start of the Route du Rhum on 31 October.
A new look
“We’re finally going to be able to go out sailing,” said Michel Desjoyeaux clearly pleased, but a little impatient to discover how his 60-foot sails. The launch marked the end of a fascinating chapter and a moment of release for all those involved in the birth of this racing machine. The new Foncia was built in just six months, or in other words just half the time it took to build the previous monohull, aboard which Michel won the Vendée Globe.
?After Safran, Groupe Bel, PRB and Virbac-Paprec 3, Foncia is the fifth monohull designed by the VPLP team in conjunction with Guillaume Verdier. She does however differ in many ways from her cousins. The chine along her side (including a very pronounced upper chine) and the gull wing deck are the stand-out features on the new Foncia. These are some of the elements that are the result of having to come to terms with the new class rules imposed by the IMOCA Class.
These limit the mast height to 29 metres and affect the available sail surface, meaning she needed to be lighter. “The goal was to lower the weight. But we haven’t gone to extremes in terms of lightness as we need to ensure she is sturdy enough,” explained Michel. “From a structural perspective, we have a certain margin. The shape of the hull means we were able to make her more solid, without making her heavier. So we made savings in other areas like the boom, for example, which is 50% lighter than on Foncia 1.”
The deck layout is based on that of the previous monohull, except that the cockpit is 70cm narrower, meaning the area for manoeuvres is smaller to make it easier and more comfortable to work. The lines are arranged in a more efficient manner with furling lines for the headsails passing under the deck. As for other changes, the daggerboards are angled inwards, which helps support the boat rather like foils, but without the drawbacks of curved daggerboards.
Finally, and this is a key feature, the rudders can be changed over very quickly. The symmetrical system means that a problematic rudder can be removed in just ten minutes. As for safety, there is an emergency hatch at the bottom of the boat (practically invisible to the naked eye) and an additional watertight compartment has been added. Without being revolutionary, Foncia includes a number of modifications that will now be tried and tested at sea.
The Mirabaud, skippered by Dominique Wavre, has finally returned to her natural element in La Rochelle after a three month refit. The navigator is now ready to start fine tuning his boat in preparation for the Barcelona World Race which will kick off on 31st December.
The Mirabaud, skippered by Dominique Wavre, has finally returned to her natural element in La Rochelle after a three month refit. The navigator is now ready to start fine tuning his boat in preparation for the Barcelona World Race which will kick off on 31st December.
After several months of work, the Mirabaud was launched yesterday in the port of La Rochelle. “It’s a day we’ve all been looking forward to impatiently”, commented skipper Dominique Wavre. “The whole team has been working flat out at the yard for over three months. Today, we are all very proud and satisfied with the work achieved on the Mirabaud!”
The recent sponsorship by Mirabaud has enabled Wavre to carry out an impressive programme of improvements on the boat. The keel head has been replaced along with numerous modifications aimed at improving the balance, hence the performance of the boat. Moreover a new chart table has been designed and a new, lighter engine has been installed.
Totally renovated, Mirabaud is now ready to begin a series of adjustments and training sessions with a view to her next competitive campaign. Indeed Dominique Wavre and Michèle Paret have planned to head offshore in the coming days. In doing so, the two navigators will have the opportunity to get their bearings aboard the boat after several months on the quayside; making decisions on the various modifications to be carried out.
“The boat is absolutely fantastic” revels Antonio Palma, Associate and CEO at Mirabaud: “We are extremely satisfied with how the refit has gone and we are now delighted to be in a position to begin the active phase of our campaign with a view to our participation in the Barcelona World Race 2010-11. Dominique, Michèle and Mirabaud will take our colours around the world! It’s the start of a great adventure.”