Extreme Sailing: No Piece of Cake

Author:
Publish date:
Rudder problems doomed Spindrift 2’s latest round-the-world record attempt

Rudder problems doomed Spindrift 2’s latest round-the-world record attempt

It can be easy to take for granted the incredible performance of today’s most cutting-edge grand prix racing boats. The latest crop of full-foiling 75ft America’s Cup monohulls, for example, were all up on their foils and even successfully tacking within hours of their first sail trials. Similarly, the doublehanded crew of Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier made it look almost easy covering over 17,000 miles in just 28 days at an average speed 24.57 knots on their way to victory in the Brest Atlantiques race.

Lest anyone think, though, that this kind of sailing is child’s play, there’s also the case of the fully-crewed maxi-tri Spindrift 2.

Earlier this week, just hours into its latest Jules Verne fully-crewed, round-the-word record attempt, the ill-fated boat (which was dismasted and lost a rudder in two earlier attempts) was forced to abandon due to rudder issues.

Reportedly, the crew lost control of its steering as soon as “its boatspeed went beyond 35-40 knots.” This does not appear to have been a case of hitting an “unidentified floating object,” or UFO, as was the case when Sodebo dropped out of the Brest Atlantiques. Instead, the boat’s basic designed simply failed to be able to stand up to the rigors of extreme sailing.

In skipper Yann Guichard’s words: “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.”

Guichard goes on to say: "We tried a number of times to solve the problem, but it keeps reappearing at high speeds, and we cannot control Spindrift 2, even with two crew on the helm. It is not prudent to continue like this, because there is a risk of a total loss of the trimaran at high speed…though we have managed to regain control of the boat now, we cannot race around the world with this technical problem. "

Something to bear in mind next to you’re watching a video of some raceboat zipping its way across the open ocean! The only reason it can do so is because of a combination of outstanding seamanship and equally outstanding design. And neither of these things comes easy!

For a taste of what it’s like sailing a boat like Spindrift 2, see the video below, which was created while the boat was on standby for its latest record attempt.

December 2019

Related

Moored-at-Molinere-Point_©-Michaela-Urban

Cruising: Exploring Grenada

For years, I’d been wanting to visit Grenada. There are many things that fascinated me about this island: its rugged, mountainous interior, its rainforests and waterfalls, and the fact that it’s less traveled than some other Caribbean sailing destinations. My photographer ...read more

Lead

The Link to a Good Shore Support Network

Much has been said and written about preparing your vessel for an offshore passage, but few think about the importance of having good shoreside support set up before heading out to sea. Almost all offshore racing teams have sophisticated onshore support teams providing them with ...read more

191203_JR_AUCKWORLDS_359559_5434

Racing: the Olympic Gold Standard

If there was a moment that gave the US Sailing Team hope to break a major Olympic medal dry spell, it was the first day of the 49er FX worlds in New Zealand last December. Paris Henken and Anna Tobias had a rough 18th in race one, then banged out two bullets and a fifth to lead ...read more

noaa

A Farewell to Paper Charts

It’s goodbye to the paper chart, at least those produced by NOAA. The agency’s Office of Coast Survey is soliciting comments on plans to completely phase out the production of paper charts and associated products within five years. Its tighter focus on ENCs (electronic ...read more

shutterstock_538143214-2048x

A Round Trip Panama Canal Transit

Our driver, Dracula, has a thick slack body, and his head leans heavily to the right. One eye wanders and looks only up and left. The other is covered with an opaque membrane. His ungainly body is covered with a loose, soiled shirt and pants. It is a hot day in March 2007, and ...read more

outremer_LEAD

Patrick Le Quement and Multihull Design

If you Google the name Patrick Le Quément you’ll come up with some 194,000 hits, most attesting to the Frenchman’s long and successful career designing automobiles. Ford’s iconic (in Britain) Sierra? That’s one of his—at first nicknamed “the jellymold” by detractors, it went on ...read more

Bali

Boat Review: Bali 5.4

In the few years since the Bali brand appeared as an offshoot of the Catana line of catamarans, it has grown rapidly. The original models are popular bareboat charter vessels in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and the new Bali 5.4, the largest of the line, moves the company ...read more