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Southern Spars - North Technology

l’Hydroptère DCNS makes it into the Pacific

by Thomas Lesage on 21 Jun 2012
l’Hydroptere will make a world speed sailing record attempt from Los Angeles Francis Demange www.hydroptere.com

On Tuesday morning, l’Hydroptère DCNS cleared the Panama Canal aboard a cargo ship which is heading for Los Angeles, the starting point for her Transpacific Record attempt.

24 days have passed since she set out from Toulon at the end of May and, barring any unexpected circumstances, the flying trimaran, which is in good company on deck alongside some massive wind turbine blades, is set to reach the port of Long Beach on Thursday 28 June. In France, the shore team is rounding off its preparations and will take off for the West in a few days time in order to see in the ‘flying fish’ and supervise her unloading.

Meantime the five crew for the record attempt are continuing with their physical preparation and are dissecting the grib files several times a day. 'It’s the calm before the storm; a moment of tranquility that I really appreciate. Indeed to be lining up for a Transpacific sprint on a boat which flies is a pretty rare opportunity in life, so I’m savouring the final weeks, which separate us from a wild ride over the swell. There are mornings where I tell myself we’re wired up a bit differently, but that’s actually what I like', jokes Alain Thébault. 'The plan is simple. As soon as conditions are favourable, we’ll haul on the sails. After that it’s an unknown quantity. We’re heading off to pave the way with this and you have to remain humble', explains the skipper.??

The unloading at Long Beach will be followed by five days of work to be carried out in the dry, which will notably include setting up a new carbon skeg (a part whose role is to support the aft stabiliser), which is lighter and more reliable. We’ve also scheduled in some trials to finalise the servo-control of the trimaran’s elevator in manual mode with the help of the engineers from DCNS. More responsive, the developed system will be crucial to the success of the attempt since it will enable the boat’s trim to be more finely adjusted in the swell and hence minimize the risk of the bows burying into the waves.

If things go without a hitch, l’Hydroptère DCNS will be able to enjoy the Pacific waves for the first time during the first week of July. At that point a few sea trials will still be needed before the crew can put in their first tacks along the beaches of California.

The stand-by period for the World Speed Sailing Record will begin on Thursday 5 July. 'Naturally the schedule is evolving and there are a number of unknown factors as regards the cargo ship, the work in the dry, the weather… We’re using just-in-time methods with all these parameters and we’re trying to maximise the allotted time so as we can give the five crew an operational boat as soon as possible. The most important thing is not to miss the right weather window', explains Emilie Monthioux, the team’s Logistics Manager.



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