Akena Vérandas lost her mast in the Transat Jacques Vabre and is currently have a new one made at the JMV yard in Cherbourg. The monohull is now in for her refit in Les Sables d’Olonne and is due to be re-launched with her new mast in early April. Arnaud gives us more details about what is happening in the refit that is currently underway and tells us about his programme for the 2012 season.
What has been happening since you were forced to return to les Sables d’Olonne, after dismasting in the Transat Jacques Vabre?
Arnaud Boissières: 'In late 2011, we stripped the boat down and started work on the design of the new mast. The tube is currently being manufactured at the JMV yard in Cherbourg. The fittings and details (channels for the halyards, mast head…) will be dealt with in Port-La-Forêt at the CDK yard from 16th February onwards. As for the boat, we’re busy getting her ready for the Vendée Globe. In particular, we looked at the energy system with the idea of installing permanent solar panels and we’ve made a few changes to the protection for the helmsman. The engine has been improved and the weight spread around, with the round the world voyage in mind. This is a major refit. The goal being to get the boat out of her winter refit as quickly as possible to get back out there sailing to enable us to test the new sails, rigging and mast.'
Can you tell us about your plans for this season?
AB: 'The boat is due to be put back in the water on 19th March. We will step the mast immediately after that in Port La Forêt. Then, it’s race time! We start off with some crewed racing with the early season events. We begin with the Round Belle Ile Race at the end of April, then the Guyader Grand Prix and the Armen Race in May. In early June, we shall be taking part in the SNSM Record and trying to defend the title we won last year. This year we are likely to see many more IMOCA boats taking part. That’s a good thing, as it will make it that much more interesting and fascinating. Early in the summer, I plan to do some solo offshore training heading off to the Azores or some other destination, once again with the Vendée Globe in mind.' www.vendeeglobe.org