Changing Plans

Three teams review their plans and preparation for The Race

Monday August 7th 2000, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
It may be the middle of summer, but the thoughts of three groups of sailors are very much fixed on the coming winter - in particular, on the 31st December 2000. That’s the day The Race starts from Barcelona on a no rules, no limits lap of the world. The crews of Team Philips, PlayStation and Club Med made important announcements last week concerning their preparation for the start.
Pete Goss and Team Philips suffered the most traumatic of set-backs when thirty feet fell off the bow of their boat in sea trials over four months ago. It’s been a long road back for the team as they struggled to discover what the fault was and to undertake major repairs and strengthening. But they were finally able to announce a relaunch date last week - on the 23rd September Team Philips should finally go back in the water.

Steve Fossett and his PlayStation crew have also had problems, though rather less spectacular. This boat has done a lot more miles than any of the others, and they have been able to reach some important conclusions about their boat. Principally, that it’s rather too willing to nose-dive. The problem is an aggressive ratio of sail area to hull length. The solution? Put another 20 feet of hull on the boat. The additions to both stern and bow will take PlayStation up to 125 feet long.

Fossett commented, ‘We’re making no changes to the rig - we’ll still have 11,631 sq ft (1,081 sq m) downwind sail area - but we need to address the tendency towards pitch-poling - we’re basically overpowered and need to improve handling. We had planned to take up this option after The Race - but we have made the decision to move ahead immediately - construction on the parts began last Monday.’ The plan is to complete the work by the end of October. In the meantime, PlayStation will sail at her current length on an August bid for the west-to-east trans-Atlantic record. She will then sail from Southampton, England, through September, before going into the shed for the hull modifications in October with the relaunch expected 26th October.

Grant Dalton and Club Med were the most recent to suffer a set-back, when the front few feet broke off their bow during a trans-Atlantic crossing last week. Club Med turned back to Newport, RI, and the support crew kicked into action. The boat is on a container ship and will be back in Quiberon, France by the end of this week. The repair could have been done on the spot, but skipper Grant Dalton preferred to get the catamaran back to the Multiplast Yard at Vannes, where she was built. A complete check of the boat had already been planned for the start of September, this will now be done at the same time as the repair, to limit the impact of the damage on the boat’s preparation.

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