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North Sails 2021 Innovation - LEADERBOARD

Yann Guichard explains Spindrift 2 stopping its attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy

by Spindrift racing 5 Dec 2019 07:52 PST
Spindrift 2 stops its attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy © Chris Schmid / Spindrift racing

At about 19:00 (French time) on Thursday, December 4, Spindrift 2 lost control of its steering. The windward rudder was unable to operate correctly once the boat speed went beyond 35-40 knots, resulting in the black and gold trimaran being unable to stay on course.

These issues are in line with problems detected a few weeks ago, which had resulted in erratic performance of the appendages.

"We seem to have had rudder issues for a year now. We broke one in the Indian Ocean last February and, as a result, decided to build two new ones. We had delivery of them in late September, and have carried out several sea trials with them. We thought we had sorted the issue when we left La Trinité-sur-Mer on Tuesday, however these rudders are like a 'sword of Damocles'. The favourable weather conditions around the start at Ushant, gave us the opportunity to check their reliability one last time, before heading into the Southern Ocean," report Yann Guichard on the phone from Spindrift 2 this afternoon.

"We tried a number of times to solve the problem, but it keeps reappearing at high speeds and we can not control Spindrift 2, even with two crew on the helm. It is not prudent to continue like this, because there is a risk of total loss of the trimaran at high speed, which in turn is a not only a risk to the crew but the steering system could become severely compromised. Though we have managed to regain control of the boat now, we cannot race around the world with this technical problem... "

The reality is that if Spindrift 2 cannot sail with confidence above 35 knots of speed, there is little chance of improving on the existing reference time for the Jules Verne Trophy, which stands at 40d 23h 30 '30'. Spindrift 2 had already hooked into the Portuguese trade winds and was in manageable seas with about 25 knots of wind further underlining that, even in benign the conditions, the situation would not improve, however much the crew intervened.

"We are now heading back towards La Trinité-sur-Mer in a moderate easterly wind, but will go through a ridge of depression tonight. We will wait for the winds to abate before entering the channel and we should be back on the pontoon on Friday evening. Given the problems we have to solve, at the moment, I do not think it is realistic to leave this year for an attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy. This is a massive disappointment for the whole team because we had found a good weather window to leave." Concluded the skipper of Spindrift 2.

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