Offshore obsessive and solo Figarist Henry Bomby turned a little help into a berth delivering the MOD-70 Phaedo (ex-Foncia) from the Canaries to Antigua, and he wrote one of his customarily good reports on the trip. Follow Henry over here.
Sitting here in Antigua airport waiting for my flight back to London, life is good having just blasted across the Atlantic in just under 9 and a half days on board the new Phaedo3 MOD 70, one of the fastest sailing boats in the world.
I originally joined the team just for the day to help take their race sails over to Portsmouth for painting. When I got back to France however my name was next to a bunch of jobs on the job list! I agreed to help out for the week as I heard talk they were going sailing on the Friday, and I was hoping I could tag along to grind for the afternoon if I was still around!
Tag along I managed to do and the next day I was asked if I fancied joining them for the trip across the Atlantic. I was super excited but hesitant, it would mean missing a weeks training in the Figaro and also (and much more importantly of course) mean missing a long planned Valentines weekend away with my girlfriend.. Fortunately coaches and Soph agreed it was a fantastic opportunity, and so it was sorted!
Arriving in Antigua
We were to be five on board. Skipper Mr Brian ‘easy cool, cool easy’ Thompson, the most laid back man on the planet, Sam Goodchild fellow Figarist currently enjoying a side project while on standby with Mapfre. Romain Attanasio, another Figarist (and Volvo ‘WAG’!), and Warren Fitzgerald (the boat captain fresh off the Hydroptère project) and me. We would be two watches, the roast beefs and the frogs, with Brian floating in between.
The first night we got straight into it and ripped across the Bay of Biscay at over 22kts. Rounding Cape Finistere within 15 hours. The boat as I said, is pretty remarkable…Shortly after leaving the sun went down, and we were straight into the watch system, Sam and I alone on deck of this 70ft machine which quite frankly scared the crap out of us in 25kts of breeze! We joked that Brian clearly had way more confidence in us than we had in ourselves as two young Figaro guys tore across Biscay in the pitch black. I broke my own personal speed record during our first watch, 30.7kts, with two reefs in the main and the J2 up, certainly ‘not pushing’ hard in anyway. Apparently?! The whole watch all I could think of was Brian’s last words before he went down for a nap ‘escape is down, escape is down, escape is down..’. On multihull a broach is a capsize, and you always need to know where your escape route is, 125 TWA is down , 95 TWA is up, as a very general rule. Anywhere in between is just terrifying!
After two days motoring South, we passed Spain and Portugal and were soon into the trades, 16-23kts and downwind VMG sailing all the way to Antigua. This thing punches out 500nm days like it’s nothing. At the beginning Brian was telling me how on Bank Populaire V during their Jules Verne record attempt, 30kts by the end felt slow, and how in a weeks time, 20kts would feel pedestrian to me too. I couldn’t believe him, but it was true. You do get used to the incredible pace these machines chuck out, and it’s hugely addictive; you just want more and more.
It’s worth noting that the MOD70 is probably the 7th ‘ish’ fastest boat in the world, and it would absolutely eat up the latest high-tech new 100ft monohull on any angle of sail and in any wind speed. It struck me massively on this trip: why aren’t trimarans more common, especially for offshore racing? I for one, am completely sold on them! Tthey are faster, and definitely more dangerous which suits many offshore events which label themselves ‘extreme’, meaning they really do need the very best sailors in the world to sail them. They are also dryer, comfier and have the potential for foiling which is definitely the way professional sailing at least, is going. In fact Gitana already has t-foil rudders fitted to their MOD 70 and is currently in the shed to develop full flight for this season.
Maybe now with the Americas Cup in multihulls, the tide is turning, and by the time I am 40 years old, I fully expect the boat taking on the Jules Verne record to be a fully foiling machine, so learning to sail these machines at any possibility is vital experience. I am unbelievably thankful to Brian and the guys for allowing me to jump on board with them. My eyes have officially been opened and dreams now become even bigger! Exciting times ahead in sailing that’s for sure.
Aerial photo by Team Phaedo/Rachel & Richard