Further to our recent interview with Yann Guichard, the Spindrift team has revealed more details about the 'bike' they are fitting to Spindrift 2, to allow Guichard to manhandle the world's biggest offshore racing trimaran in this autumn's Route du Rhum.
Édouard Touchard, a member of the Spindrift racing design team, invented this ingenious system when he was with Franck Cammas' Groupama team preparing for the 2010 Route du Rhum (read more about this here). Cammas, the skipper of Groupama 3, won the race a few months later on board his 31.5m trimaran (racing in this year's Route du Rhum as Banque Populaire VII). The new mission for Touchard is to adapt his invention to Spindrift 2, which is almost 10 metres longer and has lots more canvas.
Are we talking about a real bike? "Absolutely, it is a regular bike attached to the deck that operates the winches on the same principle as the columns, except that you’re using the greater power of the legs and not the arms,” says Touchard, the mechanical engineer. “Yann can rotate how he uses them and increase his endurance.”
In his workshop in Lorient, the time and space to develop this new kind of bike is almost like being behind the scenes of a Tour de France team.
Touchard coordinates operations with Florent Le Gal, who handles the composite aspects. "The all-carbon framework has been simplified,” Le Gal says. “The crossbar was also removed to allow Yann to get onto the saddle quickly even in his oilskins in stormy conditions. The wheels are gone, meaning the bike can be screwed into the cockpit. The saddle, also made of carbon is a normal retail model that has been 'marinised'. And finally, the handlebars have been replaced with the type used by triathlon cyclists, which allow for a more comfortable position with better support for the back in particular."
To simplify how it works and optimise its use the majority of the work centred on the transmission ratios. "The bike has two chains,” Touchard continues “The first works with a box that allows you to shift gears "even when you do not pedal." On land, you can use the movement of the bike to change the chainring or gear. On the boat, the setting is fixed but you still have to adapt the transmission ratio to the effort required for a certain sail or raising a foil, etc…This box, connected to a single chainring, replaces the cogs and allows you to change gears while pedaling on the spot. Then the second chain uses the force of inertia, which adds efficiency to the movement. It will be like being on spinning bike in the gym, but on the Rhum, the session could last more than a week."