Ballasts: the art of equilibrium

Four: That is the number of ballasts allowed by the new measurement rules for the latest generation IMOCA 60. It is a step towards simplification, as the measurement rules previously allowed eight separate tanks. But what is the exact role of ballasts? Here, we interview Quentin Lucet, a lead architect in the VPLP group, which designed Safran.

Whether it is IMOCA 60, Figaro Bénéteau or the Mini 6.50, ballast has become indispensable on solo offshore race boats. These water tanks, positioned along the sides of the hull, help re-balance the boat when on beam reaching angles.

To sail efficiently, a monohull must not heel over too much: the greater the angle of heel, the less effective the appendages, like the keel or the foils. Filling the ballast helps add weight on the windward side of the boat. The greater the ballast and the further away it is positioned from the boat's centre of gravity, the more effective it will be. It also contributes to the comfort of the skipper, whose position becomes increasingly precarious as the boat leans over.

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