“Solo sailing a trimaran the size of Spindrift 2 requires complete physical commitment,” says Yann Guichard, who recently sailed from the Azores to La Trinité-sur-Mer, alone at the helm of the world¹s largest racing multihull. With two months to go before the start of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, the skipper arrived late Monday afternoon and appeared positive and satisfied with his single-handed sail. His arrival fulfils the compulsory qualification required for the event.
Since Spindrift 2 was launched in 2008, nobody has had the audacity to sail this maxi-trimaran single-handed. The 40 metres long Spindrift 2 was designed to be raced by crews and holds several respective major ocean-sailing records. Spindrift racing thought long and hard about taking part in the Route du Rhum, adapting the trimaran especially for this epic race which will commence on November 2nd this year. The cockpit has been redesigned for use by a single-handed sailor, with the commands placed suitably within reach. Meanwhile, the surface area of the sails has been reduced by around 20% and an ingenious autopilot system has been fitted. The trimaran has not been reduced in size, however, and Spindrift 2 remains by far the largest boat taking part in the 10th edition of the transatlantic race.
Head first, eyes wide open.
Yann is a seasoned expert in all forms of multihull sailing. He is as cool as ice and has steadily improved. Spindrift 2 left Newport with a crew sailing in pseudo-single-handed mode, allowing Yann to drive and manoeuvre the trimaran on his own, facing varied weather conditions and winds ranging from light to strong.
In the Azores, the starboard rudder had to be changed due to a collision with a container drifting in the middle of the Atlantic. As soon as the boat was fully repaired, Yann departed Horta alone at the helm. “The Azores anticyclone was positioned over the Bay of Biscay,” he explains “so I had to sail west of it, taking a longer route to keep some wind. I have just spent six days alone aboard Spindrift 2, which is extremely tough, but feasible. The biggest unknown were the autopilots, which gave me great confidence and steered most of the time. I found my pace and, with time, you get used to the size of the boat. Anticipation remains the key, because the slightest manoeuvre requires an hour's work. You can't simply make one move after another, or waste all of your energy at once, because you have to stay lucid. When Spindrift 2 has the right sails up for the right weather, and you're gliding along over the waves, it¹s extremely satisfying and exhilarating.”
Now back in her home port of La Trinité-sur-Mer, the trimaran will undergo no further major technical changes, only minor tweaks. “Small improvements can still to be made to help me with manoeuvring the boat, or to make me more comfortable, but I am confident in many areas,” says Yann, who is reunited with his technical team at the Spindrift racing base conveniently located in Brittany. “I haven't done any close-hauled sailing in the breeze. By sailing regularly over the next few weeks, I will learn to do more things automatically and will become even more competitive.I will also continue to prepare myself physically, although in moderation, so that I remain suitably energised when I reach the start line. I need to be in good shape, ready to take on the challenge ahead.”
Almost 80 competitors registered in five boat classes for the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe will be required to arrive in Saint-Malo by Friday October 24th, the eve of the official opening of the village. Until then, the Spindrift racing team will juggle their efforts between preparing Yann and Spindrift 2 for the autumn transatlantic race and the end of the D35 season on Lake Léman. Last weekend in Versoix, Ladycat finished fourth in the Open Nationale Suisse. The action will recommence this Saturday in Geneva with the Grand Prix Grange & Cie.
– Spindrift Media