put to pasture

Just a day after Yann Guichard and crew onboard maxi-trimaran
Spindrift 2 began their fourth attempt at tackling the vaunted Trophy Jules Verne, the team has again had to abandon their attempt with major rudder problems. After blatantly sailing through the restricted Traffic Separation Scheme off of Cape Finisterre, the team sustained another major body blow with the failure. In what has proven to be the achilles heel for what is still the world’s largest and fastest offshore racing multihull, the team has bowed out and abandoned the attempt due to rudder failure for a second time in succession. 

From the team’s websiteAt 20h UTC, Yann Guichard, Spindrift 2’s skipper, made the decision to turn around and end the current Jules Verne Trophy record attempt.

 A difficult decision following a sudden loss of control, which required the intervention of two sailors at the wheel to recover the situation. This malfunction has damaged the steering system which makes the boat unsafe to be sailed in heavy weather conditions. All the crew members are safe and sound. Nevertheless, the multihull’s condition does not allow it to continue its world record attempt. The trimaran is currently returning to la Trinité-sur-Mer in Brittany, France. More information will be provided as it becomes available.

Following another round of optimizations and the installation of “new load bearing rudder plates” earlier in the year, the boat was re-launched in September at the Multiplast boatyard in Vannes. “We carried out a complete structural study of the T-rudders and worked on the aerodynamics, saved some weight and also did a complete check-up of the boat’s structure,” explained boat captain Erwan Le Roux at the launch in September. Once back in the water, the team again experienced more problems with the rudders, which created another race against the clock just to get ready for this most recent record attempt. To again see the boat sustain a failure in the first 24 hours is surely a major gut-check for this team that has been attempting to set the Trophy Jules Verne for close to five years now. 

Will there be another attempt, or this the final nail in the coffin for a boat that is beginning to look more and more like an aging dinosaur when compared with her more nimble, 100-foot foiling rivals? And furthermore, will they end up in court like Marc Guillermot did for a similar disregard of international shipping laws back in 2012? No one ever said that setting a new record would be easy, and we say good on them for continuing to try, but at this point Dona Bertarelli, Yann Guichard and the team’s management has got to be asking themselves if campaigning this boat is the best use of their time and seemingly endless resources. Best of luck in getting the old girl safely back to port in one piece. – Ronnie Simpson.