After a spell of spring sailing, Temenos II is back in her cradle once again at the heart of the nautical platform in the old port of La Rochelle.
Following a set timetable, the month of June has been largely devoted to working on a set of sails for the next Vendée Globe. Though the skipper is entirely satisfied with the new upwind sails, a lot of thought has been going into the downwind sails throughout the past few weeks.
'The sail trials have gone very well, and it’s been good for the team to get away from the yard for a bit and get a dose of sea air again. We’ve had a few outings offshore, which have enabled us to trial the new upwind sails and come to a decision about the choice of downwind sails, which still had to be designed for the Vendée Globe. We were able to decide on the surface area and the geometry, and we have performed a certain number of trials to compare the various foresails, in order to obtain a precise inventory. As usual, we have returned from these sail trials, our notebooks full of scribblings, and the sail loft is ready to set to work. The sails are likely to be delivered in around ten days’ time' explains Dominique.
As a result, work has begun on Temenos II again over the past week and although the majority of the optimization desired by the skipper on his return from the Barcelona World Race were completed early in the year, there was still a sizeable modification to the programme. Following the problems encountered with the steel appendage during the round the world race, Dominique decided to opt for a carbon keel on his return. And it is this delicate task that the shore crew set to work on almost a week ago in La Rochelle.
'After two months construction, the new keel has been delivered. In the period leading up to its installation it has required a lot of study and preparation, and handling it has been a tricky process. We have done a good job and we are satisfied with the result. The adjustment has been very tricky due to the difference in volume and shape between the former keel and the new one. It’s really required the precision of a Swiss watchmaker to work with the few tonnes of suspended lead! We still have the coating to apply as the bulb remains in its raw state at the moment, and then we can envisage taking this keel for its first dip' jokes the skipper.
This change of keel contributes to the global lightening of the boat, which a lot of work has already gone into during the winter jobs list. A direct result of these modifications is that the monohull’s technical characteristics have evolved and Temenos II will have to be remeasured.
'We’ve saved some more weight, which is always appreciable in the boat’s performance. The shape of the bulb has been optimized thanks to CFD studies. In ten days’ time, Temenos II should be entirely emptied and will undergo the necessary scrutineering after these latest alterations. After that we will head out to sea for some offshore sailing in order to validate the new keel and get back down to training.'
After his last double-handed circumnavigation of the globe, the skipper is set to regain his solo sailing reflexes, as much with the manœuvres as the mental and physical management. This shouldn’t prove too much of a problem to Dominique, who will be tackling his 3rd Vendée Globe in November.
Whilst he waits for the possibility of being able to test out the new keel and the remainder of the set of sails during August, the skipper has already been able to appreciate the ergonomic modifications made on board. For the time being, Dominique declares himself to be satisfied with the modifications performed on Temenos II since the start of the year.
'It’s true that when we were trialling the sails, I spent most of my time on deck, but I have already noticed that the boat’s new interior makes it really easy to move about and shift the moveable ballast. We still have a few changes to make to the layout in order to facilitate the storage and stowage as this is fundamental for a 3 month long race'.
The sailing will go on throughout September and Dominique will continue with his regular training prior to the month of October, which will echo the final home straight before the start of the Vendée Globe...