Monday, 16 March 2009

Vendée Globe: Dinelli Finishes in 10th place

Raphael Dinelli crosses the finishing line off Les Sables d'Olonne. Image copyright Olivier Blanchet/DPPI/Vendée Globe.

by Vendée Globe media and Jeremy Payne

Surrounded by his friends, family and supporters Raphael Dinelli enjoyed his warm welcome back to Les Sables d’Olonne. His entry back into the channel followed immediately after he crossed the finish line and he was greeted dockside in Port Olona by large crowds, keen to hear what he had to say about his latest Vendée Globe adventure

Dinelli looked relaxed all the time, in good shape and was greeted by Rich Wilson who finished last Tuesday.

Dinelli confirmed he was happy with his placing, 10th, and his time for the passage. Were it not for his lack of headsails and being forced to sail most of the race with at least one reef, he reckons he would have been quicker.

Of coming back to reality, finishing he said:

“ It's magical. A time to share our emotions after being alone. When you are in the middle of the action, you spend your time taking care of the boat and sailing her. The first boat I saw this morning was a boat with 5 or 6 people aboard and I talked to them. I explained then I was proud about arriving in Les Sables. It really felt good and I hope others feel the excitement too.

“ The finish was much more relaxed this time. I came down from Brittany. The weather was fine and the sea calm. 4 years ago I had to struggle to finish when I wanted to, but this time, it was much calmer and that's probably just as well.”

He explained again that his interest is mainly in the practical issues of using ‘alternative’ energy sources rather than making political statements, and the so the Fondation Océan Vital was in effect much more a floating laboratory or test bed:

“ We'll be continuing to work on the solar panels as there was a slight problem with the heat. They need sunshine, but didn't resist the heat and there was some delamination of the photo-electric cells. The team are working on that in the lab. I hope other boats will be interested. They don't weigh much - 1200 g per square metre. With glass it would be 15 kg per square metre. When I had my eco-friendly house built, people thought I was crazy, because I was ahead of my time. I'm not involved politically, but am just showing what the technology can do. I've been doing it at home with water-saving for ten years now, so this is just a continuation. I don't want eco-friendly and organic food just to be a fashion. We could see in the south that the icebergs had melted and that was a real threat to us. The aim of the foundation is to act, not talk about green issues.”

“ The solar panels suffered in the heat. There was delamination and I lost about 30% of my capacity. The wind generator withstood the violent storms, so the results were very positive. The wind generator produced 24v for the Fleet 77, but as it is so expensive I didn't use the system very much. The solar panels supplied energy for the computer and onboard systems.”

From perspective of his race performance he said he had learned some lessons, but was generally content:

“ The start was very good. I was about 18th. I had bought gennakers from other sailors. With the mainsail we weren't prepared enough as the halyard wore and I wasn't able to repair it. I was going to stop at Trindade, Tristan da Cunha and in the Falklands, but each time I was unable to repair, so I was always sailing with a reduced sail and lacking headsails. But the climb back up the Atlantic went really well until the boom broke. So if I had been able to use headsails, I think I'd have finished ten days earlier. I worked hard sailing down the Atlantic and I didn't drink enough, because I had a problem with the water maker. Then there was the elbow problem. And consequently the medical problem got worse. With the boom it was different because I was close to the finish at that point.”

“ Like the others, I had my share of damage. The south is very different from before as the climate is changing. High pressure zones in the Pacific, icebergs measuring the size of a football stadium. The books are now out of date as the weather has changed. On Christmas Eve, I had my worst storm for a few hours. Not necessarily high seas, but violent winds. The boat was knocked over and everything got wet and the lazy jacks and ropes had to withstand a huge amount of water, so that meant there was a lot of damage. You don't have time to think, so you need to be certain about what you're doing and act quickly in survival mode. I had a great rounding of the Horn. The visibility was different from previous occasions. I try to keep that picture in my mind. I remember too the Pacific with the date line with dolphins, fine weather and long surf. Sometimes, you get angry and call up the team. I kept sending back data about the energy each morning, as that was the goal of my race. I never went below 50% power. On the way back up the Atlantic the batteries went back up to 100%, which is great as usually batteries don't like to be emptied.”

"I talked a lot with Norbert. The weather decided which route we would take and we met up as we entered the Pacific. It was great to do that section of the course together. Norbert got through it. I'm really happy to see him finishing tomorrow after his first failed attempt four years ago."

Vendée Globe

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