This is an important stage, which is both technical and symbolic: on Friday 16th March, the big Safran monohull was put back in the water and her mast was stepped in La Trinité-sur-Mer. Marc Guillemot and his team now have eight months ahead of them before the start of the Vendée Globe. Eight months to prepare. And from now on, that means out on the water.
Everything went well: the cranes and gantries did their work to the nearest millimetre in the service area in the harbour in La Trinité-sur-Mer. The whole of the Safran Sailing Team were present for this event to take care of the boat they have been working on for three months. “This is the nice bit,” commented Marc Guillemot. “To put it simply, after a winter, during which a lot of work had to be done in the sheds at the yard, we’re now back in the water, out on the sea and riding over the waves again. So, now we’re going to be able to train before tackling our race schedule. For the whole team, which did such a fantastic job this winter, this is a highly symbolic moment.”
8 months to go to the Vendée Globe with a fine-tuned boat
Marc summed up what has been happening during this long winter refit: “In general, we’ve done some cosmetic surgery on the boat after the incident with PRB and Virbac-Paprec at the start of the Transat B to B, in Saint Barth. We had some repair work to do and then she had to be painted, and of course, we’ve also tried to make some minor improvements.” Without going into all the details, as these remain confidential, “We made some improvements to the ballast system, to be able to get the most out of the boat with the Vendée Globe coming up. On paper it may look like a small detail, but it involved a huge amount of work, as the ballast tanks are part of a complicated system, with all the plumbing, the pipes going through the bulkheads, etc. We also did some work on the mast, the communications system, the keel…” The guiding principle? “To ensure the reliability of everything that has worked well, while carrying out improvements on the other parts. Making her even more reliable is also a way to improve her performance. We once again made weight savings, but also improved the righting moment in some points of sail, for example.”
Checks, adjustments and sailing…
What lies ahead now will firstly involve carrying out the final class tests, in other words, making sure that following these modifications, the boat is still within the IMOCA class rules. This is done each year, and should not pose any specific problem, as the improvements that were made were carried out with this in mind. Then, of course, Safran will be back out there sailing. Marc Guillemot: “We shall be out training to adjust the mast, which has just been stepped. Then, from next week on, we’ll be carrying out sail tests.”