Yannick Bestaven / Aquarelle.com
It is more than a passing trend: with each new edition, the competitors in the Vendée Globe are more and more aware of the need to protect the planet. Several of them, like Raphaël Dinelli on Fondation Océan Vital and Yannick Bestaven on Aquarelle.com, have taken concrete measures. Two very different ways of doing things, but both aiming for the same goal.
Raphaël Dinelli will be setting out on his fourth Vendée Globe on 9th November. At the helm of his Nandor Fa designed boat, the skipper of Fondation Océan Vital knows full well that he cannot compete with the latest constructions coming from the world's leading boat designers. However, he still has a taste for adventure and wishes to spotlight the risks facing the world's oceans. With all eyes focussed on the Vendée Globe, that offers him a perfect opportunity to apply the processes that he has developed and in which he strongly believes. Clearly, the visit from French TV star and nature presenter, Nicolas Hulot, who came along to lend his support was also an occasion to publicise all the work he has been doing in the background. From his environmentally-friendly house to the fitting of the latest solar panels that he designed himself, Raphaël can be praised for his clear approach. His round the world voyage is going to be a chance to prove that dogged determination can get things moving … This is what Nicolas Hulot had to say: 'In the area of renewable energy, we´re only just starting out and Raphaël is one of those people, who are stepping up the pace. Looking beyond the competition, we have a debt towards nature. We must go beyond mere words and do something concrete. If a race like the Vendée Globe can lend its reputation to this battle, we are all winners.'
Reconciling performance and respect for the planet.
Yannick Bestaven, a qualified engineer and keen ocean racer, is trying to achieve what appears to be squaring the circle. This former Mini-Transat winner refuses to give up his green convictions for the sake of performance. At the helm of a boat that certainly has seen some miles, as she is none other than the former Aquitaine that Yves Parlier designed for the 2000 Vendée Globe, Yannick is trying to prove that the quest for performance and sailing without fossil fuels can go hand in hand. To do this, he has put on his engineer's hat to develop with his technical team some original processes, such as a hydrogenerator allowing him to power his batteries thanks to a turbine blade in the water: 'The most important thing was to find a system that was reliable whatever the sailing conditions, and which was not a handicap in terms of performance… Remembering that we also have more traditional power supplies, such as solar panels and wind turbines.' Yannick Bestaven will also be carrying out trials using a fuel cell.
And the crowds keep on coming.
One thing is certain: the other competitors taking part in the Vendée Globe will be keeping a close eye on the performance of the two yachtsmen. Depending on the results in terms of the power supply and performance, there could be a future for these processes. Already a lot of boats have been fitted with photoelectric cells and reserve wind turbines. Who knows whether for the 2012-2013 race, the rules will not impose limits on the use of fossil fuels?
Meanwhile the crowds continue to visit the Vendée Globe pontoons. Another 75,000 visitors have come to les Sables d’Olonne to enjoy the race atmosphere. With two weeks to go before the start, that brings the total number so far enjoying the sight of these ocean racers to 200,000!
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