Safran brings in a wing mast for Vendee Globe

For the Vendée Globe 2016, the monohull Safran has been fitted with a wing mast supported by outriggers. These carbon spars recall the poles of the old tuna fishing boats from the 1930s, hence the name: “tuna-boat rigging”. Inspired by racing multihulls, this method has more and more followers in the IMOCA class.

The first wing mast appeared during the Vendée Globe in 1996 on Yves Parlier's IMOCA monohull. By making this choice of rigging, the sailor from Aquitaine began a new trend of the masts with thicker profile, which can pivot on a ball joint and improve the airflow on the mainsail, especially downwind. Since then, wing masts have gained general acceptance, and the majority of the candidates to win this 2016 edition will be equipped with them. On a conventional rig, found on most pleasure boats, the mast is held by shrouds, which open up the sheeting angle thanks to the spreaders. With the tuna-boat rigging, the angle between the shrouds and the mast is formed by two long carbon spars that run from the deck of boat to outside the hull in the shape of a “V”.

Aerodynamic and easy to manoeuvre

After analysing the advantages and disadvantages of each type of rig, Morgan Lagravière chose to go with a wing mast. “First of all, this type of rig has clear aerodynamic benefits,” Lagravière said. “Instead of a classic mast, we have fitted a streamlined mast. In addition, the outrigger system means the mast can rotate on its axis which makes it much more efficient downwind. Finally, in contrast to a conventional rig with spreaders, the centre of gravity of the whole rig is lower.”

 – Safran Media
JPK August 2023
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