Geronimo undergoes refit

News of Olivier de Kersauson's big tri in Brest

Monday April 7th 2003, Author: Rivacom, Location: France
“Whether it’s normal or abnormal, wear and tear always has an explanation” explains Didier Ragot, Olivier de Kersauson’s loyal second-in-command and one of Geronimo's two watch captain. "You watch, you examine and you search; then you try to understand and finally you think about how things can be improved".

Since the giant trimaran returned to Brest, her team have been far from idle. "Right the way through the round-the-world voyage, I logged everything I thought was odd or abnormal. Soon after we came home, we held a briefing on all those observations and we’re now at the diagnosis stage," continues Ragot.

Her round-the-world experience has revealed Geronimo's strengths and weaknesses. "There are some changes to be made", continues Ragot, "for example, the mainsail traveller just exploded, so we need to understand why. Maybe the loads were higher than we predicted. We calculated a mainsail sheet loading of 14 to 15 tonnes. That may be too low a figure. But it may also involve the rail system. If we're going to solve the problem, we first have to explain it." And he’ll be doing the same for every part of the boat. "Geronimo is still in the Moulin Blanc marina at the moment. We’ve already checked the mast, but we’ll have to wait until she’s out of the water before we can make a complete check-up". And that’s what they’ll be doing next week.

This in-depth inspection will be made using a method called "tapping" which, as the word suggests, involves tapping the structure after attaching a sensor connected to a computer. The resulting resonance gives a precise indication of the condition of the mast and for example, indicates any delamination. An identical sonic system is used to test the structure of the boat's beams and hulls. Then there are all the fittings (winches, etc.), the sails and so on, until every component part of Geronimo has been examined in detail. "At the same time, we are making the detailed studies that will help us decide which improvements or modifications we should make".

The issue of whether or not to renew the mast is currently being investigated. A larger mast may be a possibility, but should it be 42, 43 or 45 metres? The results of the mast inspections now being made should provide the answer, with a decision expected by the end of April.

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