The latest from Mike Golding
How was last night?
It was alright. The breeze sort of stabilised, the squalls stopped, I was able to start back on full sail now and start to be 100% plus velocity so that is good. We are making really good progress now towards Cape Horn.
I hear you are on quite a vigilant ice watch this morning?
Not so much now, but certainly as we approach the Horn, really a visual look out is the only one that is going to be of any value, which is fortunate as I don't have a radar!
I don't if you have heard that Bernard has more problems with his hydrogenerators. We spoke to Javier yesterday, his solar powered solution means he has only used his hydrogenerators three times. I wondered if you thought we will we see more boats using solar power rather than hydrogenerators?
I think you will see more boats using a combination of systems. The solar power is very good, but we have a little bit of both, the panels I am using are the same make as the ones that are on Acciona and they are custom, but they are extremely expensive. Acciona will not be a cheap boat to equip such a large array of panels. For sure, it is a solution now. It is strange because solar power was good for a time, but the panels were very inefficient, but the panels we have now are extremely effective.
It is price versus weight. Are the solar panels light enough now?
Yes these ones are. They are light, but also extremely efficient. These ones are very very little weight. Our panel array weighs less than 2kg, it's nothing. They are delivering on a sunny day I am getting 20amps, it is quite extraordinary. Obviously it only works when the sun is out and when the sun is reasonably strong, or when it is very bright. It will work in overcast conditions but obviously less efficient, but the hydro works all the time, of course, and you get a bigger bang for your buck, so to speak. I think the hydro has a place, but I saw Bernard's interview on the quality on some of the parts available and I can't help but agree in part with what he is saying. I have felt the same frustration previously, not just hydropower, but with supplier parts which aren't just up to the job.
Have you had any problems with your hydrogenerators in this race?
Well, I can't tell a lie. Ours aren't working either! I have two very good hydro generators that are working extremely well, but the little box of tricks that does the conversion has fried itself. To be honest, it nearly caused a fire, I nearly had a fire onboard, so I wasn't that impressed with that. The irony is that I have two very effective hydrogeneators both fully attached to the boat, functioning correctly, but I can't use the power.
Do you have enough fuel onboard to get you to the end?
We hope so! I did load some fuel, we are assessing it now. We have been out for a while, but it is very difficult in the South to know how to manage the fuel because you need certain things. We have been running a sensible economy and we have probably lost the ability to generate with the hydro about three weeks ago.
You are quite an experienced boat manager, you have been in this game a long time. I imagine you have a good understanding how to balance your requirements.
Yes, but it is very difficult, it is not straight forward at all, you need certain things. To try and operate on the boat with next to no power is very, very difficult. Bernard is in a very difficult situation as his boat is low on power now, he is unable to generate power at all and he is just running on his batteries, I think he has a little bit of fuel and so can charge his batteries a little. It is a pretty scary thought and actually the story of this race has been people having problems with hydropower. The irony is previously in the past, people have had problems with power and now we have got more available systems that do actually work, but unfortunately the competitive side of us always wants to use the most efficient system from a weight perspective. We dithered on fuel a lot, on about how much to carry and luckily in the last analysis we loaded more. So with even that, it just depends on your usage. Even having done that, I am still not 100% sure.
To read more about the IMOCA 60 of the future (when it comes to the power side) then read our article about Acciona 100% EcoPowered here