A bike aboard a boat? It may sound silly but it is a very serious technical innovation to help Yann Guichard to handle the maxi-trimaran Spindrift 2 alone on the next Route du Rhum. Prepare to find out more on your web series '40 metres solo'.
The maxi trimaran Spindrift 2 crew in action.
Édouard Touchard, a member of the Spindrift racing design team invented this ingenious system when he was with Franck Cammas' team preparing for the 2010 Route du Rhum. Cammas, the skipper of Groupama 3, won the race a few months later on board his 31.5 metre trimaran. The new mission for Édouard is to adapt his invention for Spindrift 2, which is almost 10 metres longer and has lots more canvas.
Are we talking about a real bike? 'Absolutely, it is a regular bike attached to the deck that operates the winches on the same principle as the columns, except that you’re using the greater power of the legs and not the arms,' says Édouard, the mechanical engineer. 'Yann can rotate how he uses them and increase his endurance.' In the workshop in Lorient, the time and space to develop this new kind of bike is almost like being behind the scenes of the Tour de France.
Édouard coordinates operations with Florent Le Gal, who handles the composite aspects. 'The all-carbon framework has been simplified,' Florent says. 'The crossbar was also removed to allow Yann to get onto the saddle quickly even in his oilskins in stormy conditions. The wheels are gone, meaning the bike can be screwed into the cockpit. The saddle, also made of carbon is a normal retail model that has been 'marinised'. And finally, the handlebars have been replaced with the type used by triathlon cyclists, which allow for a more comfortable position with better support for the back in particular.'
Spindrift 2, a bike on a boat
To simplify how it works and optimise its use the majority of the work centred on the transmission ratios. 'The bike has two chains,' Édouard says. 'The first works with a box that allows you to shift gears 'even when you do not pedal.' On land, you can use the movement of the bike to change the chainring or gear. On the boat, the setting is fixed but you still have to adapt the transmission ratio to the effort required for a certain sail or raising a foil, etc…This box, connected to a single chainring, replaces the cogs and allows you to change gears while pedaling on the spot. Then the second chain uses the force of inertia, which adds efficiency to the movement. It will be like being on spinning bike in the gym, but on the Rhum, the session could last more than a week.'
Guest of the episode: Édouard Touchard, research and development office, Spindrift racing: He's Géo Trouvetout! A mechanical engineer, he spent six years with the Groupama Team. His job was to conceptualise and design smart devices to improve the performance and ergonomics of racing yachts. Research, design and 3D and 2D modelling are the specialties he brings to the Spindrift racing team. Passionate, organised and rigorous, his innovative spirit will ensure the best solutions for Spindrift 2. For his biography click here.
Spindrift Racing website
SPINDRIFT 2 rounds the Fastnet Rock at 14.03 BST on Monday afternoon - 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race