New Pogo S2 goes through 180deg inversion test

Groupe Picoty passes essential Global Ocean Race measurement

Wednesday June 16th 2010, Author: Ollie Dewar, Location: France

In the early evening of Monday 14 June, Groupe Picoty - the first Finot-Conq Design Class40 Pogo S² from Structures Chantier Naval - successfully underwent a 180° inversion test at Bénodet in Brittany. This unassisted self-righting test with the two crew on board is a fundamental requirement of the double-handed Global Ocean Race 2011-12 (GOR) for Class40s and Pogo S² hull #1, Groupe Picoty, is the first GOR entry to complete this element of the event’s rigorous safety stipulations.

With the keel and rudders fitted during the early afternoon by a team from Structures, diesel and the anchor were transferred onboard and Groupe Picoty was craned into the water as the yacht’s two co-skippers – Jacques Fournier, President of the Class40 Association, and Jean-Edouard Criquioche, Class40 Treasurer – strapped-on safety helmets and prepared for the inversion. Just before 18:00 (local), Groupe Picoty was inverted via a strap round the keel bulb and the crane was quickly disconnected. Fournier and Criquioche swiftly began filling the yacht’s starboard ballast tanks using an electric pump and within 21 minutes, Groupe Picoty was upright again.

Following the test, the French duo was entirely satisfied with the inversion. “It went very well,” confirmed Fournier as his Class40 was manoeuvred gently alongside the dock. Other than a very minor leak from one of the ballast transfer hoses, the watertight integrity of Groupe Picoty was total. “At one point we thought she wasn’t going to roll over,” continued Fournier. “So we ran from one side to the other, and over she went!”

Josh Hall, Race Director of the GOR, was present at the test and inspected all the ballast, engine and battery systems prior to the inversion and handed the crew a certificate once Groupe Picoty docked. “This is the only diploma I’ve ever received,” commented Criquioche proudly as he accepted the laminated paperwork from Hall.

Also attending the inversion test, Jean-Marie Finot and Pascal Conq were delighted to see their first Pogo S² perform the 180 so slickly. “Now there is a round the world race for Class40s, it’s necessary to build a boat for such an event,” explained Conq. “The design-thinking is different and, of course, you have to do the 180 test and fit extra bulkheads, but after that, it’s a racing boat. The big question is to make it fast!”

The one feature that is immediately clear on Groupe Picoty is the well-defined chine running from the transom to slightly aft of the bow. “We now know the optimum beam in terms of stability and power and we’ve pushed the power to the maximum within the beam,” says Conq. “We have won an extra 10 percent of power with the wetted area at 15 degrees of heel, which makes the boat much faster.”

However, the designer believes there is something really special about the Pogo S²: “One of the unique things is it’s a racing boat at a very good price, I think,” says Conq. Indeed, the Fino-Conq/Structures Class40 costs €228,000 which includes hull, deck, mast and rigging, deck gear, stainless fittings, keel and bulb, a chart table and galley arrangement, the ballast system, the engine, wiring and the battery system.

“Both Structures and ourselves have always tried to do things in a way that is not expensive,” he comments. “It’s a matter of attitude.”

Possibly the biggest smile of the day belonged to Christian Bouroullec, head of Structures Chantier Naval. The yard will produce four more Class40s before the Route du Rhum later this year of which hull #5 is also a GOR entry. “The next Pogo S² will be launched in three weeks time,” he reported from the quay in Bénodet as celebratory champagne was passed around the spectators. The Structures yard employs 50 staff with 15-20 working full-time on the Class40 builds. Bouroullec estimates that each boat requires around 3,000 man/hours and this production rate combined with high build quality is compelling.

For the GOR Race Director, Josh Hall, the Groupe Picoty 180° test is another landmark moment for the race. “It is great that the first race entry to undertake the inversion performed so impressively,” he says. “It’s also symbolic that the boat belongs to the President of the Class40 Association who is, once again, leading by example.”

For Hall, the 180 inversion is far more than a safety test. “We will ensure that every boat entered in the Global Ocean Race passes this test,” he insists. “The inversion proves that each boat is stable, watertight and capable of self-righting, but the roll-over test also allows the crews to experience and appreciate what conditions may be like in a worst case scenario.”

GOR Race Partner, the V1D2 boatyard in Caen, Normandy, is offering an all-inclusive, deal to GOR entries for the vital inversion test.



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