Vendée Globe - Check-up time for Kito de Pavant's Groupe Bel

Technical check-up for Groupe Bel - Vendée Globe 2012
© Kito de Pavant / Groupe Bel
With the Vendée Globe start only four months away, on November 10th 2012, it is check-up time for Kito de Pavant's yacht. The rudder blades, the hydraulic system and several other parts will be tested - and possibly replaced - so the monohull is as reliable as possible.

Just like cars, yachts sometimes need servicing. With already 100,000 nautical miles under her belt - more than four circumnavigations - Kito de Pavant's monohull now needs a technical check-up. After so much sailing, the yacht's mast and keel have been removed and Groupe Bel has been taken out of the water and parked under her tent. She has then been thoroughly dismantled so all her parts could be sent out to be checked. The rudder blades have been taken to the Brest shipyard. 'It has to be done in Brest because there are parts of the rudder blade that can’t be controlled with the tools we have. They have material and techniques usually used for the Navy there and they can scan the rudder blade to check it entirely', the Groupe Bel explains. As for the hydraulic system, it had been shipped to Milan to be taken care of by Cariboni and his team. This is an important step for Kito de Pavant: 'They will control the hydraulic jack, the pieces that make the keel pivot. It’s a key thing that really needs to be checked, just like some other important parts.'

In addition to the checks on the rudder blades and the hydraulic system, the rest of the equipment will be replaced by new material: lines, sails and fittings equipment, titanium hooks, in-board engines, batteries, hydrogenerators, the video system, etc... 'These are parts that get regularly replaced, especially as the Vendée Globe is starting soon. But having a brand new equipment doesn’t mean everything is going to work perfectly!' says Kito de Pavant. Changes will also be made on the mast, which is currently being built at Formula France while the two semi-shells are fired before being assembled in the next few weeks. Ultrasound checks are scheduled for July 26 and 27 while the mast should be delivered by the beginning of September. 'We’ll sail to test the new parts in September and October and we’re going to do it very thoroughly just to make sure everything works just fine. The goal is not to achieve better performances but to have a more reliable yacht'.

The emphasis will also be on safety, the waterproof quality of the doors and panels, ergonomics and the look of the yacht. The specific equipment required for a round-the-world race will be installed on board (heating devices, extra pilot, extra satellite dish, etc…) As for Kito de Pavant,he will now work on his boat - at least on what is left of it – during the summer. Even though he will be disappointed not to be able to enjoy the sunny weather of the Mediterranean Sea, de Pavant is looking forward to resuming his sailing sessions in September.

Vendée Globe website