Following a month long delivery trip on board a cargo ship, which left Toulon in southern France on 28 May 2012, l’Hydroptère DCNS made it safely into port in Los Angeles this Tuesday 5 July 2012. The big carbon bird will be reassembled and re-launched in the Californian port of Long Beach, where she will be on weather stand-by for her Transpacific Record attempt.
The Transpac, or Transpacific, is one of the oldest yacht races in the world, since it was created back in 1906. Every two years, for over a century, it has gathered together the greatest sailors on the planet, who come to do battle over the 2,215 nautical miles (4,102km), which separate Los Angeles from Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii. This legendary course also forms the backdrop for a number of record attempts throughout the year. To date, French sailor Olivier de Kersauson holds the transpacific record, which he set back in November 2005 at the helm of Geronimo, with a time of four days, 19 hours and 31 minutes, at an average speed of 19.17 knots (35.5km/hr on average).
As such, it is this nearly seven-year old benchmark, that Alain Thébault and his four crew – Luc Alphand, Jean Le Cam, Yves Parlier and Jacques Vincent – will be attempting to erase aboard l’Hydroptère DCNS. The five sailors will initially position themselves in a ‘code red’ situation, as they await favourable conditions and prepare for the challenge on site. As soon as a propitious weather window presents itself, they’ll switch to a ‘code orange’, which is synonymous with a departure within the next 72 hours.
Finally, if the weather window remains open, the ‘code green’ will be announced, with the crew readying themselves for a departure within the next 24 hours.
Alain Thébault gives his view of the situation: 'I’m particularly happy to be able to attack this Transpacific record. After the long months of preparation and work, it’s a fantastic reward for the whole team and all those who are supporting us. We’re now going to be able to show what Hydroptère DCNS is made of.'
Under the watchful eye of the inspectors from the WSSRC - the World Sailing Speed Record Council – who have to be on hand to approve the record, l’Hydroptère DCNS will then head out to the start line, which is situated offshore of the Point Fermin lighthouse, at the south-west tip of Los Angeles. The moment the flying boat crosses the start line, the crew will have four days, 19 hours and 31 minutes, to make the finish, which is directly in line with the Diamond Head lighthouse, in the famous Waikiki Bay.
To ensure l’Hydroptère DCNS has every chance of success, a team of engineers from DCNS is in Los Angeles working on the servo-control system for the aft stabiliser and completing the optimisation with a view to setting off on the record attempt.
This attempt is very much in keeping with l’Hydroptère DCNS’ offshore programme, whose aim is to demonstrate the offshore potential of ‘flying’ boats. Alain Thébault, her designer and skipper, has held the absolute speed sailing record over a nautical mile (an average speed of 50.17 knots or 95km/hr) since 2009 and eventually aims to develop a maxi-hydroptère capable of securing the greatest offshore records. As such the Transpacific Record is another important step along the way.
by Stéphanie André
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5:11 PM Fri 6 Jul 2012GMT
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