by Soazig Guého
The countdown has begun with thirty days to go before the start of the 2012 Vendee Globe. The date is drawing near. Marc Guillemot tells us about his final preparations.
With 30 days to go to the start in Les Sables d'Olonne, Marc Guillemot’s daily life is completely given over to the big start of his solo round the world voyage: 'Since the end of August, we have been in a different phase. I live the Vendée Globe, think the Vendée Globe, everything I do and plan is linked to it. It is impossible to think of anything other than the race.' So, he is already fully focused on this all the time. 'It is very intense, consuming… and fascinating,' declared the skipper of Safran.
In between the thousands of things to do, there are still more training sessions lined up. 'Just yesterday I was out at sea on my boat… and I’ll be out there again tomorrow,' smiled Marc. 'Safran is already in Vendée Globe mode. The round the world sails are on board and I’ll be testing them one more time just to be 100% certain about them. There are lots of little details to check over.'
Of course, the boat is already 100% ready. 'The team has done a great job and we’re ready. These final weeks before the race are very important, particularly as I need to be entirely confident in the equipment. For example, at the moment when I get out on the water, I use the autopilot in normal mode, but also in reduced mode. It’s all a question of being ready to use it if I have to during the race. This final month before the start is also an opportunity to take care of small, yet important details, such as the supplies that go aboard, the bags of clothes, the spare gear. We have to be careful not to take too much on board... or indeed too little. We have to be extremely meticulous about this. To sum up, we check absolutely everything: from the smallest detail down to the most important elements.'
One new feature: Safran will be setting off with hydrogenerators, which will supply some of the electrical power required by the autopilots, navigation instruments (see below), navigational lights, etc… 'This is important,' explained Marc, 'as the energy supplied by the hydrogenerators and the wind turbine means that we can reduce the quantity and therefore the weight of diesel necessary to fuel the engine and the alternator, which is the third power source on the boat.'
A close look at the hydrogenerators
by Jean-Marie de La Porte, project leader with the Safran Sailing Team:
'For this Vendée Globe, a new application from the Safran group has been installed on the boat. Marc Guillemot is taking on board two hydrogenerators designed by two companies within the Safran group: Sagem and Hispano-Suiza. Fitted to the port and starboard side of the transom, these hydrogenerators – based on the principle of driving an alternator using an immersed propeller – are protected by an automatic kick-up system in case of collision (just like the rudders). When used for several hours a day, they are able to supply the boat with her electrical energy needs. Sagem designed the whole of the electrical part of the system. Hispano-Suiza, which specializes in aircraft engine transmissions, came up with the whole of the alternator drive system.'