Saturday 23 March 2013

Vendée Globe : Comments further to queries received in regard to the Interview with Bernard Stamm, Cheminées Poujoulat

Bernard Stamm aboard Cheminées Poujoulat. Image copyright Thierry Martinez/Sea&Co

by Anne Hinton

It is usual that any boat will work to its maximum performance only if the design criteria match with the way in which it is sailed.

Bernard Stamm was clearly sailing the boat very well prior to the issues with the hydrogenerator, etc, and the top performance was shown by the fact that he was fighting for a podium position in the Vendée Globe until that point – and once again rapidly overtook other boats after his initial repairs.

It is usual for every team and every sponsor to reassess their involvement in any project at the end of a cycle of that project. It is extremely rare for any sponsor to become involved with any project before the ground rules are laid out (the current situation in regard to the IMOCA class and the next Vendée Globe), as also applies to sailing teams.

There are a number of pros and cons with the IMOCA class issues on the table at present, but the views expressed by Bernard Stamm are directly reflective of those put forward by many others to whom the writer has spoken more informally, ranging from boat preparateurs to those who have both competed in the Vendée Globe in the past and newcomers who wish to do so in the future.

The case for a more one design IMOCA class for the next Vendée Globe was put by the class President, Luc Talbourdet, at the Café de la Marine du Télègramme two weeks ago and also in discussions with the writer last week. This article will be published on next week.

The IMOCA class will vote on the rule changes on the table – both a more one design class rule, and also changes to the keel construction – on 19th April 2013.

Thursday 21 March 2013

Vendée Globe : Bernard Stamm, Cheminées Poujoulat – Winner of the Environmental Race

Bernard Stamm, Cheminées Poujoulat. Image copyright Thierry Martinez/Sea&Co

Interview by Anne Hinton, March 2013, after presentation of the film “Rivages : une autre vision de la course au large” at the Savanturiers de la Mer gathering at the Cité de la Voile Eric Tabarly, Lorient, France

One of the assets of sailing for sponsorship is the environmental or “green” nature of the sport. In recent years that has been increased promotion of concern for the ocean environment alongside sailboat, and especially ocean, racing.

Bernard Stamm aboard Cheminées Poujoulat. Image copyright Thierry Martinez/Sea&Co

In the Vendée Globe 2012-13, Bernard Stamm, aboard Cheminées Poujoulat, had scientific equipment installed by the Centre d'Océanopolis at Brest to measure phytoplankton as he moved across the world’s oceans. The collection of these data enable satellite measurements over large areas to be checked against actual sample collections made directly from the ocean. 

The scientific experiment was completed when Stamm sailed back into Les Sables d’Olonne, despite a lack of classification in the race itself due to outside assistance received while undertaking repairs half way around the world.

Cheminées Poujoulat enters the water for the first time. Image copyright Thierry Martinez/Sea&Co

Background to the Cheminées Poujoulat Vendée Globe project

AH:     How did you choose the designer of your boat?

BS:      I chose Juan Kouyoumdjian. We could talk about the boat completely by ourselves. If I had chosen someone also working on another Vendée Globe boat I am sure that the resulting design will be very similar. 

            It’s not because I like to make something else than everybody, but it’s important to make the entire job; from thinking, conception, building and until the race.

Cheminées Poujoulat. Image copyright Thierry Martinez/Sea&Co

AH:     Are you pleased with the boat?

BS:      Yes. The boat is very different. The design is very precise. There is a way how to use the boat and if you use the boat differently it doesn’t work. It’s efficient, it’s a good boat.

AH:     Why the decision for Décision in Switzerland to build the boat?

BS:      First it’s a chance. Bertrand Cardis is a friend of mine. I know him since a long time before he started building boats… The whole project to build the boat is a friend project. [Décision have built boats from lake catamarans to round the world racers and Ernesto Bertarelli’s America’s Cup boats, so their credentials are very well assured.]

The Race

Cheminées Poujoulat. Image copyright Thierry Martinez/Sea&Co

AH:     You are the most unfortunate of all the competitors in the last Vendée Globe with hitting the container in the Transat Jacques Vabre beforehand as well as the issues in the Vendée Globe itself.

BS:      When we built the boat it left time for training. Then after in the Transat Jacques Vabre we hit the container the repair [several metres of one side of the hull and internal structures had to be replaced; Stamm was fortunate to able to prevent the boat from sinking after so much damage had occurred] took a very long time and it was very bad luck. All the rest of the problems that we faced in the race [the Vendée Globe] was work that we had no time to do. If you try to win you push everything to the limit – a limit that maybe you reach sometimes.

 Cheminées Poujoulat is damaged by a container during the Transat Jacques Vabre. Image copyright DR

AH:     Can you describe what happened during the Vendée Globe?

BS:      What happened was that we broke the boat in the Transat Jacques Vabre and then the two races that we tried to use as test races I didn’t have and then all the time that we repaired the boat after that we didn’t use to train.

 Bernard Stamm repairs the hydrogenerator on board during the Vendée Globe. Image copyright Globe Surfer

            It’s a lot of small things that we didn’t resolve, and some big things like the hydrogenerator. Then I had a problem with the energy and with the autopilot also: two very big problems on the Vendée Globe.

            Next time…!

Sail Wardrobe

AH:     François Gabart, winner of this edition of the Vendée Globe on board Macif, used the MDTK sail in establishing his 24 hour speed record and much has been made of that sail in this regard. What was your sail wardrobe?

BS:      The MDTK is a choice that François made for his boat. Everybody has a different choice and I had this sail for the Vendée Globe in 2008, but not this time.

            There is no miracle – there is only work!

            This sail is part of the work that François did on his boat. You cannot just take it like this and put it on another boat. If I start again in the Vendée Globe I will not choose this sail; it doesn’t fit my boat.

Cheminées Poujoulat. Image copyright Thierry Martinez/Sea&Co

AH:     What were your ten sails on board for the Vendée Globe this time?

BS:      I had A2, A6, mainsail, genoa, Solent, normal jib, storm jib, an A5 and a big and a small gennaker.

Future Plans

AH:     Are you going to do the Route du Rhum?

BS:      I don’t know. Now I have to reassess my project. I know that I will race the Transat Jacques Vabre, but for the future I have to build the project and the team. I don’t know whether my sponsor, Cheminées Poujoulat, wants to continue. If they continue the collaboration it’s ok, but I have to be sure that we have all that is needed to be able to win. For the moment it’s like every project -  it’s at the building stage.

New IMOCA Class Rules

Cheminées Poujoulat. Image copyright Thierry Martinez/Sea&Co

AH:     What do you think of the ideas for the next boat for the Vendée Globe? What is your favoured option?

BS:      For me, mono-type is not good. It’s not a good solution for me. Prototypes are interesting for the sponsors. If there is mono-type, it must be a real mono-type, and not just IMOCA class. For so long time, I don’t know how they will control and make things as smooth. To make exactly the same boat for everyone – I think it’s not possible.

            Mono-type is a good idea, but you have to make sure that they will be a real monotype. It’s very complicated.

            You talk about the sail of François Gabart. They will try to find somewhere to improve the boat – and this is not mono-type, and this will kill the class, I am sure.

Cheminées Poujoulat. Image copyright Thierry Martinez/Sea&Co

AH:     The first two boats on the podium of the latest edition of the Vendée Globe came out of the same mould, but François Gabart did something different from Armel Le Cléac'h with the interior layout.

BS:      In this way it is ok and it is possible, but if now the class will be only on mono-type, I think the experience of preparing the boat will not disappear and they will apply it to the mono-type. I think if you do this, you will kill the class.

Environmental Experiment

AH:     About the laboratory that you had on board to measure phytoplankton… Environmental concerns are becoming of increasing interest with ocean racing. The Barcelona World Race had a conference on the oceans and the future of the planet just before the race started, the Volvo Ocean Race boats have collected samples of water on a daily basis on each boat, and now you are making environmental measurements in the oceans during the Vendée Globe. Do you see this as something to continue in the future?

BS:      Sure. I think we are already too late to do this. It’s time to be different in our way to use the planet, it’s just logical.

AH:     There is a limit to what any one boat can do at any time.

BS:      Yes, but if everybody does a little bit it will be better. For us, at first, it was difficult. It was expensive and took a long time to put on the boat. With a prototype you cannot oblige everyone to have such constraints.

AH:     It was quite automatic? It didn’t take much of your time?

BS:      No.

AH:     What about the weight on the boat and the electronics?

BS:      We worked to implant this machine during 2 or 3 years. It was huge work before the race. I am sure that not everybody will do this, or be able to do this. We were lucky because it was friends – so it didn’t cost for us. We were lucky that we reached a result just before the race. It was not automatic [to install the equipment on board].

Bernard Stamm returns to Les Sables d'Olonne at the end of the Vendée Globe on board Cheminées Poujoulat. Image copyright DR.

AH:     There were unfortunate problems with the boat, such that the Vendée Globe race could not be completed, but you did complete the ocean experiment?

BS:      Yes, we won that race!


Bernard Stamm's co-presentation with Eric Hussenot, Director of Océanopolis at Brest, was by far the most popular of the presentations at the Savanturiers de la Mer gathering, and the organisers had to find another location for the many autograph/photo hunters, well-wishers and armchair or would-be around the world sailors to meet with Stamm afterwards.

In addition to the Rivages  presentation, other highlights  from the Savanturiers de la Mer were:

* Pakaihi i te moana, a film about the mission to uncover the amazing biodiversity of the Marquesas islands in the Pacific, where several new species of fish, etc, have been discovered by French researchers
* Film and direct talk by Skype with those locked in the ice on the yacht Vagabond in Grise Fiord, Nunavut, eastern Canada, concerning their long-standing programme monitoring polar bears in the Arctic
* Preparation of the vessel Tara, the former Seamaster of Sir Peter Blake, for an expedition to the Arctic. They leave Lorient 15th May to examine plankton in Arctic waters. Following this, the next expedition will be to warmer climes to assess coral growth in the Pacific
* The glaciers of Spitsbergen (Svalbard), which involved the voyage of a 10 metre yacht from southern Brittany, through the Irish Sea and Caledonian Canal, up the Norwegian coast and across to Svalbard, where she was joined by French scientists, who were able to use her to carry out assessments of sediments offshore in front of the Midre Lovenbreen and Austre Lovenbreen glaciers by side-scan sonar. The return trip saw the yacht used as a base for a winter skiing holiday in northern Norway, after the snow had been cleared off the decks
* Oceans of plastic - A film and discussion concerning the tonnes of plastic and other waste that humans leave, completely unnecessarily and to the detriment of the environment for sea creatures, in the sea each year. The Japanese tsunami has also contributed a very large additional quantity of debris

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Volvo Ocean Race : Veteran Around the World Racer Neal McDonald Bows Out with Compliments to Camper ETNZ

Kiwi Perspective and Changes over time from Tony Rae, plus
Excerpts from a Pre-Race Interview with Franck Cammas, the Volvo Ocean Race Winner, and 2013 French National Match Racing Champion

Volvo Ocean Race interviews carried out in July 2012 by Anne Hinton
Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race/Paul Todd
Neal McDonald, Team Telefonica

 Neal McDonald, Team Telefonica. Image copyright Maria Muina/Team Telefonica

AH: How many races around the world have you now completed, please? When was the first one? Will this be your last one, or will you be back for more?

NM: I've started 8 round the world races of one form or other – finishing six of them. My first complete round the world race was on Silkcut in 1997. This [2011-12] will be the last one for me – I'm definitely too old for another one – the time commitment for the pre-race training and the race itself is too much for me at my stage in life with a young family.

Neal McDonald with his young family. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race/Ian Roman

AH: What were the strengths of Team Telefonica in the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race, please?

NM: We had a great sailing team, a good shore team and plenty of time to prepare for the race. Time I believed we used wisely. I also feel we had one of the fastest all round boats and a good sail programme. We started the race in great shape and I imagine we had probably done more sailing than all the other teams.

Team Telefonica shore-side. Image copyright Team Telefonica/Maria Muina

AH: What were your favourite experiences from the last Volvo Ocean Race?

NM: I really enjoyed the fast sailing on the leg into Lorient where we had 2 boats in sight and everyone was pushing hard. That was possibly the best sailing I have ever done.

Neal McDonald racing on board Team Telefonica. Image copyright Daniel Fructuoso/Team Telefonica

AH: What were your least favourite experiences from the last Volvo Ocean Race?

NM: Finding we had a pretty major structural problem early on in the Southern Ocean that forced us to sail the boat under its potential for the rest of the leg.

 On the rail on board Team Telefonica. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race/Daniel Fructuoso

AH: What were your most memorable moments from the last Volvo Ocean Race?

NM: Strangely enough sailing into Brazil was my most memorable part of this race. We had such a huge reception - it was great!

Team Telefonica. Image copyright Maria Muina/Team Telefonica

AH: What aspects of other teams have you most admired during the course of this Volvo Ocean Race, and why?

NM: I admired Camper ETNZ's organisation, teamwork and determination. I believe that they achieved a better result than several faster boats.

AH: How do you see the introduction of a one design boat changing things for future Volvo Ocean Races, please?

NM: I have mixed feelings – I still like the concept of the design innovation that the race has had up to now – but for sure a one design race is way better than no race, which is what I imagine would have been the case if it had remain as it is in the current economic climate.

Neal McDonald at the helm of Team Telefonica. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race/Daniel Fructuoso

AH: What are your future sailing plans, please?

NM: Unsure. I will be doing the odd regatta here and there just to keep me up to date and in touch with what is going on, but I have no plans for the bigger picture yet [as of July 2012].

AH: Thank you very much for your time.

Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race/Hamish Hooper

Tony Rae, Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand

Tony Rae aboard Camper ETNZ. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race/Ian Roman

AH: Trae – how long ago was it that you previously raced around the world, and in what boat/skipper was that, please?

TR: My last race was with Dalts on NZ Endeavour in 1993 - so a fair break from it.

AH: What changes have you noticed (apart from being older!) between your previous circumnavigation and the one completed in 2012, please?

TR: The race has changed a huge amount since then – in fact its now called the Volvo Ocean Race not the Whitbread. We only had 5 stops and this time there was 9 plus in-port races. The boats are way more physical because of the weight of the sails and the speed they are going , there just way more powerful for their weight. We had 15 [people] on Endeavour and these boats are limited to 10 plus a media man. We had a cook and this time the media man is the cook, or, should I say, boils the water.

Camper ETNZ getting very wet. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race/Paul Todd

Because of the speeds you do now they are very wet compared to the ketches so with the amount of water over the deck there is always way more potential for injuries.

AH: Are Kiwi teams sailing around the world different (both people-wise and in their set-up) from in the days of Sir Peter Blake’s circumnavigations, please?

TR: In some ways they are but, as you know, the Camper team was made up of a few different nationalities so in that way its always going to be different. It was different with Blakey as skipper but I don't think he would have suited these types of boats as alot more of the racing this time relied on short course, boat on boat sailing which is where Nico and Stu were very good.

Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race/Ian Roman.

AH: Are you a good onboard medic? How did the job compare with previous around the world onboard doctoring (issues of incorrect fillings in teeth aside…)?

TR: As far as a medic goes I think I had the right attitude for it and I enjoy looking after that area which I think is a big part of it. It’s not all about just dealing with major problems; it’s more often being more of a nurse and trying to look after a lot of small issues to stop them getting worse, i.e. small salt water infections, strains, chest infections, dehydration, common cold, etc.

Medicine Man Trae injects local anaesthetic into Mike Pammenters severed lip and broken tooth aboard Camper ETNZ. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race/Hamish Hooper

AH: What were the best times for you in the last Volvo Ocean Race?

TR: - Making it to Chile, fixing the boat, and making it to Brazil in time for the next leg.
       - Winning the last leg to finish 2nd overall.

AH: What were the worst times for you in the last Volvo Ocean Race?

TR: - Having a good leg out of NZ and then breaking the boat.
       - Leading into Lisbon and getting beaten by Telefonica.

Camper ETNZ. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race/Paul Todd

AH: What was the funniest moment for you in the last VOR?

TR: The equator crossing is always pretty funny if you have already been around the Horn and you can be King Neptune!

AH: How have you found the inshore legs compared with the offshore ones in the Volvo Ocean Race?

TR: The inshore races are always very hard as these boats are not set up very well to sail short courses and it is so important to get a good start when the race only lasts an hour, but they are bloody hard work but also good fun!

Camper ETNZ. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race/Hamish Hooper

AH: How was getting the 24 hour speed record twice over in this Volvo Ocean Race?

TR: It was very cool to have the speed record but when we lost it to Tele [Telefonica] we were gutted so we really pushed the boat hard during that time and claimed it back which we thought was rightfully ours. It was all about not having any down time during that 24 hours.

AH: It seemed that the A4 kite added reaching horsepower aloft to Camper ETNZ on Leg 9 that had previously been missing from the boat. Do you think it would have been possible to use this sail at an earlier stage in the race to improve performance?

TR: The A4 was a good call in that leg and it worked well for us and was easier to make the call to take that sail as it was a short leg so the forecast was more accurate so it was not such a big risk.

Camper ETNZ. Image copyright Camper ETNZ/Chris Cameron

AH: Do you want to do the Volvo Ocean Race again in the new one design boats?

TR: I'm not sure if I will get to do it again, but that will all depend on who does it and if they will take me again.

Trae works out in the gym. Image copyright Camper ETNZ/Chris Cameron

AH: What effect do you think that the new one design boats will have on the race?

TR: With the race going to One Design it will change a lot, but does get 8 boats on the start line which is the main aim for Volvo and I guess for sponsors. I don't think it’s so good for a Team like Team NZ as we have so much resource to us in the design world...

Great racing in the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race/Ian Roman

AH: What are your immediate sailing plans [July 2012]?

TR: I am now back full time with Emirates Team NZ as a back-up sailing team member which going to be very different and very exciting.

AH: Thanks very much, Trae!

Groupama leads Camper ETNZ - 1st and 2nd overall in the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race/Paul Todd

Post Script

Excerpts from an interview with Franck Cammas in 2010, on his participation in the VOR and also his America’s Cup plans after the Volvo Ocean Race

Groupama 4 seemingly races without crew in the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race/Paul Todd

FC: We are switching [to one hull] just for the Volvo Ocean Race because we want to do an offshore race with crew and there is only one like that!

AH: What about the MOD70?

FC: It’s a new class. We don’t know how this will pan out. It is not the same size of event as the Volvo Ocean Race.

Franck Cammas at the wheel looks around as a huge wall of water washes the decks of Groupama 4 during the Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race/Yann Riou

AH: For you it is always the ocean race? You were involved with the America’s Cup and BMW Oracle Racing?

FC: Yes, it’s interesting for sure and it will be more interesting after the Volvo Ocean Race for the America’s Cup, but for now we have a lot to learn!

Groupama 4 racing the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race/Yann Riou


They clearly learnt very quickly as Franck Cammas and the Groupama team won the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12!

The Groupama team win the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race/Ian Roman

Now, in 2013, Franck Cammas is training in C class catamarans for the Little America’s Cup… en route to the main event at a later stage, no doubt! He is also campaigning an M34 and will compete in the Tour de France à la Voile this year.

Franck Cammas and the Groupama team of Devan Le Bihan, Erwan Israël and Christophe André win the French National Match Racing Championships 2013 in Antibes. Image copyright O. Bourbon

Cammas has also just won the title of French National Match Racing Champion in Antibes. America's Cup teams - watch out!