Safran goes on a diet
The winter refit on Marc Guillemot's Transat Jacques Vabre winning IMOCA 60 Safran has been underway now for a month. The overall objective is to save some weight and gain in efficiency, before the boat is relaunched in April.
The Transat Jacques Vabre, was won despite encountering some truly horrendous conditions, but proved that a light weight approach is indeed compatible with reliability. Already one of the lightest boats in the IMOCA fleet, Safran is going through a further weight-lose regime during her latest refit.
From the team's base at the harbour entrance in La Trinité-sur-Mer, Thierry Brault, Manager of the Safran Sailing Team, explains: "The boat was completely stripped and everything removed. We have completed the repairs that were required following the Transat Jacques Vabre: we did some work on the hull, on a bulkhead in the ballast tank, which had become unstuck and a few other little odd jobs… Now we're moving on to some more important modifications, which are aimed at saving weight and making efficiency gains."
At the moment, the shore crew in the Safran Sailing Team are tackling other major work too: cutting through and dismantling three vital elements and replacing them with lighter versions: the canopy over the cockpit, the channels through which the halyards and sheets pass through the coachroof and the pit area, the central Y-shaped console located between the companionways, where all the lines are centralised.
"The coach roof will be lighter and offer more protection with extended side panels," continues Brault. "The new central unit will be half the weight of the previous one thanks to a change in the material used. It will be fitted in the next few days as will the channel through which the lines are fed."
Her new estimated weight is a secret, but the team are attempting to stay one step ahead of the other new VPLP-Verdier designs currently in build for Vincent Riou, Michel Desjoyeaux and Jean-Pierre Dick.
The rigging is also going to be changed: "In this area, we are looking for improvements to performance from the bottle screws, but that is not all," continues Brault. "The hydraulic parts have been sent off to Italy to be tested. The keel will be overhauled in March, which will enable us to check on the boat's centre of gravity. The electronics have been dismantled and the cables refitted. The antifouling will be redone and Safran will be painted yet again… Some time in April, as we await Marc Guillemot's return to racing, we will be able to admire the boat back in the water, as she will look brand new and will perform even better."