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too much?


too much?


Chacahe, a pocket rocket Mini Class 6.50, launched in March of this year in La Rochelle, was out sailing around during the Velux 5 Ocean start, showing off their huge spinnakerMore photos of the day right here

The ultimate goal for Aymeric Chappllier is to win the Mini-transat starting next September after a series of races off the Atlantic coast of France and the Mini-Fastnet.

As a reminder, the Mini 6.50 Class is a development box rule: basically a rectangle 6.5 meters long, 3 wide, 2 meter draft, and a 12m mast define the playground. Most people opt for an all around boat but the trend over the last year 4 years is towards more powerful hull shapes. Some development work has been done on drag and the boats must also pass stability tests at 90 % with 45 kg at end of mast to prove their ability to come back from the inevitable knock downs.

Why is this boat different? Is it new and a radical advancement? No, not radical but part of well prepared, strategically planned program and meticulous building process. The boats “in the water” testing has also been given the “Flipper ok” by dolphins during one of its outings. See video: Dauphin Dance

Cha Cahe, is the result of construction by C3 technologies, sails by Incidences, Mast by Heol the estimated 4000 man hours of hands on work of Aymeric Chappelier, Julien Helene, Thomas “Carbonics” Carpier and sailing campaign sponsorship with the La Rochelle Aquarium.

Building, materials, process,

“One-shot” infusion technology obtained a less than 1% difference between calculated versus actual in the 200kg of resin used. The boats’ total weight 750 kgs is more than other 6.50s coming out recently, but the accuracy of their infusion allows for more carbon layers, a stronger boat, tested in 40 knts during the first Mini-fastnet outing.

Stringers, predrilled winch bases with carbon plates and reinforcement tubes, were all part of the infusion. The foils, using airplane technology, includes internal frames pre-installed with no need for secondary bonding the two halves together.

The 35kg high modulus rotating wing mast built by Heol has been tested and sailed by some 10 other boats. “3D” is how Aymeric describes it : “The mast pivots and is adjustable fore and aft, athwart ships, and rotates; it is a bit heavier than others but good for off-wind sailing.”

Well known local sail loft, Incidences, who supplies a large percentage of distance sailors, worked on a sail wardrobe, especially one for the doldrums and light air finish.

The boats are allowed 7 sails, mandatory storm sail, with the offwind sails taking priority in strategy and development. There isn’t a size limit but rather a workability limit. In this picture, Aymeric tries crashing to see what happens and to find what needs to be improved in getting the boat back on its feet.

The positive psychological effect of being able to sleep well, which is hard to measure, when you know your boat is strong and the autohelm will not fail, this is the benefit gained by not launching until ready.

Sailing Strategy and preparation

To know the boat better, benchmark and improve the boat’s performance, he used a data recovery program, to accumulate infos on, wind speed, wind angle, boat speed to feed into another program to create polars for the boat and different configurations.

All of this feeds into the sail evaluation process.

All of this preparation is because in Mini-s, weather routing and “outside navigation” is banned. Grib files, VHF and weather radio is all they have to generate weather barometric maps, which is why they need to make up for weather wild cards by going as fast as they can.

Is there any “group racing” going on? Meaning, nobody breaks away from the contact incase some gets a good shift? “No….. it depends more on the weather forecasts.”

This is spoken as someone who has a lot of confidence and doesn’t feel the need to hedge his bets on what others are doing. What would you say to foreign Mini sailors in preparation as advice?

I guess put together a local group to train, do regattas and then come to train in Brittany before the Transat. This is easier for USA sailors but harder for the Brazilians, Turkish, South Africans. (Note: UK solo sailor; Brian Thompson is putting together a solo training camp/port in the UK.)

How do you pay for this project?

The beginning of the project has been privately funded and a cooperative effort between me and others, But to keep going through the next season leading up to and including the Transat, the Aquarium of La Rochelle will be my sponsor. Their message is two fold: “The Ocean is not a dumping Ground” and the protection of turtles.

This is not a slapped together or completely sponsor driven program but one which involves experience and the patience to put in the hours, launch and sail the boat when ready, something not easy to do in the real world. Visit his 6.50 profile for more: Aymeric CHAPPELLIER.

Lyn Hines