Banque Populaire V

Banque Populaire V

Sunday, 13 February 2011

The latest from onboard....

Day 22.4 1700 13 Feb

Tradewinds are blowing at full force now, 25 to 30 knots with a good sized sea running, as we beat north towards home. On the way down 17 days ago, when we were downwind we had the opposite problem, with the tradewinds being very light and the seas flat calm..We are actually going faster now than when we were in the same place and going downwind!

This trip has been almost all VMG running downwind from the moment we started so a little upwind just restores the balance..

Still 2 reefs and the ORC (large storm jib) and we are adjusting the traveller and mainsheet to control the speed over the waves. Today we are reaching a little more to have a better angle to the waves and reach more favorable wind directions sooner.

Its extremely wet on deck, so although it’s the tropics and the water is 28C I have got Musto foul weather top, waterproof shorts, and a headgear arrangement of baseball cap, goretex balaclava and Oakley snowboarding goggles. As I chose a top with no hood, for lightness and flexibility, this is a sort of removable hood system..Works well for me, but probably 80 percent of the crew have conventional hoods..

Driving is particularly wet, with the spray coming at you at 30-40 knots it is a lot more comfortable to drive with goggles on, than constantly squinting and ducking to avoid the incoming spray. Particularly at night when you can be hit by a big lump of salt water with your eyes fully open, that’s a little painful for a few seconds!

Sleeping a little hard to achieve in these conditions, but you need to get in the bunk just to clear the space for the 14 people on board. I am in the top bunk of 4 and am using the purchase system to angle the bunk almost to the ceiling to make sure I don’t fall out if I do doze off!

That’s all for now, everything fine on board, the team are happy and we are making some good miles back to the they would say in the US..

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Bumpy Ride

12 Feb 1850 02 30N  25W

Not much opportunity for writing today. The morning standby watch was spent on deck helping the onwatch team work the boat through a large doldrums cloud. We made about 20 miles progress in 4 hours.

So we were making 1 knot when we officially began our watch, but had the great satisfaction of weaving our way through the slow moving clouds and finding the NE Tradewinds. So by the end of the 4 hour watch we were making 18 knots, and we felt free of the doldrums..

The next off watch was incredibly hot and it was  impossible to sleep as the upwind speed crept up to 20, then 25 knots in good sized tradewind waves - it was like trying to sleep in a vigorously shaken sauna..

No big change in the next several days as we travel against the tradewinds. We are constantly monitoring our speed to try to provide the boat an easy ride. We are on delivery after all and not racing. We have changed down to a double reefed main and ORC headsail (which is a large storm jib)..The True windspeed is 23 knots, our boatspeed is 23 knots and the apparent windspeed is 40 knots!

This is Brian, braced in the galley, signing off..


Thursday, 10 February 2011

Groundhog Day!

Day 18.7 15N 17W

Groundhog day here with another 24 hours of sailing at 130 True Wind Angle in 12 to 15 knots of wind, flat seas, only a few minor rain showers each dawn.. After the doldrums its looking like strong upwind tradewinds so am enjoying waking up to this same song on the radio every morning..(you had to see the movie)…

Full main, medium gennaker..Foil down, foil up, foil down as the wind sends the boatspeed above or below 22 knots and we need or don’t need the extra lift in the leeward hull from the curved foil.  These curved foils make such a difference, the leeward hull is never buried in the water, in fact, the faster you go, the higher it rides. The boat is also much easier to steer as you usually lift some daggerboard at the same time (though in our case right now, there is only 30 cm of daggerboard that we can lift due to the collision).

Even though we have been sailing parallel to the coast of Brasil for 3 days at 20 knots plus, we still have another 3 days to go to get to its top - an enormous country. Overlaying Brasil on to Africa to the East, it would cover from South Africa to Liberia..Right behind the galley bench is  a large map of the world, and I have been plotting our position on it each day, and these are the sort of things you notice when you have some time on your hands..

The visibility here is incredible, yesterday afternoon we were seeing the tops of large cumulus clouds that must have been well over 60 miles away, and they looked like snowcapped volcanoes.

More later


Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Day 17.7

Day 17.7 09 Feb 1730  22N 13W

More easy miles under our 3 hulls today, as we slide once more into the Tropics..A few sail changes this morning from gennaker to solent and back to gennaker are a welcome bit of exercise. I have taken to doing some circuit training in the cockpit during the night watch, just to keep fit. Reminds me of all the boxercise classes I did at David Lloyd Southampton as part of the training for this trip.)

Earlier in the trip I mentioned the motion down below was like a underground train on a motocross course. Now it is more just a normally bumpy ride on the Piccadilly line, so you do need to hang on  to keep your balance, but you are not going to get flung across the cabin as before..

And at mealtimes down below it’s a cross between the underground at rush hour, a school cafeteria and the game of twister, as everyone moves in an elaborate dance in the galley to get food, sit down to eat it and get up to wash up without upsetting the equilibrium of the hive. Its everyman for himself in a very polite French way which works perfectly. Being English and culturally programmed to queue; meant I was never going to wash up my bowl initially, I have learnt you just need to jump in there!

Still wonderfully enjoyable to steer this boat VMG downwind, and I feel that after 17 days have certainly got better, and are able to keep it in a very narrow groove for longer and longer, overtaking more and more waves at 25 to 27 knots of boatspeed in 16 knots of wind until one wave finally blocks you and slows you down to 21 knots..Come up for a few seconds by 4 degrees, labour up that wave and ever so slowly pivot over the top of it to start accelerating down the face. Trying to resist the temptation to bear away immediately, instead watching the speed rise, making sure the main hull does not lift clear and spook the trimmers, and then bear away smoothly that 4 degrees, but no more and get into that 27 knot groove again, watching every facet of the waves in front, ready to come up a fraction, powering up the boat in anticipation of any slowing waves in our path.

We are doing 40 minute shifts on our watch, so although we are on delivery its full concentration for each 40 minutes, both for the practice for the real thing again and just for the sheer fun of it.

Ok, bye for now


Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Heading Home..

Day 16.8

0730 8 Feb 30 30N  10W

We gybed onto the long starboard up to the Doldrums at midnight and are now heading north at good speed. Now at 30 30S, so into the latitude of southern Brasil, northern South Africa, southern Australia and well north of all of New Zealand..

Sailing with the medium gennaker, staysail and full main. Saw the first flying fish yesterday so the albatrosses are far behind now, wheeling around the Southern Ocean without us.

Yesterday, when not steering, I had an educational time with my iphone, and the brilliant ‘Star Walk’ application, learning the Southern stars properly. The Southern cross I knew already, embedded in the milky way, but not alpha and beta centauri, the triangle australis, and I recognized Saturn for the first time ever. So more study tomorrow, and the rest of the crew are getting keen on the stars and planets too. Although as Yvon said, you can’t see the Southern Cross from his home in Switzerland, so he’s waiting till in the Nothern Hemisphere to learn the stars!

I think from doing celestial navigation pre GPS I became interested in finding stars, just so that you can calculate your own position, but now in this age of the instant positioning its interesting to find more about the stars than just where to find them…

The days here are flashing by, watch by watch. The equator is coming up rapidly and after that there is some windy upwind in the NE tradewinds. So enjoying this downwind sleighride we are having now. Very low stress as we are still have our speed limits in force to preserve the daggerboard..

All the best from the South Atlantic!


Monday, 7 February 2011

Heading North

07 Feb 37S O2E

Heading north now and its rapidly getting warmer, just in one day the water temp has gone from 11 to 18C. Skies are still cloudy but I am sure by tonight as we are up to the latitude of South Africa, we are once more going to see the stars again.

We are sailing carefully downwind, in maxi trimaran terms, and throttling right back to 25 – 26 knots, to take care of the repaired daggerboard. It seems strange, and I am speaking as someone who still remembers the rush of excitement when I first hit 10 knots on a keelboat, but on this boat 20 knots feels like you are trickling along and at 25 you are just starting to get moving. It really is a speed generator. I have say that I sometimes consciously subtract 10 knots from the BandG speed display just to make some normality to the numbers,  not to be spooked by doing a steady 39 knots or whatever it might be..’Ok, its only 29 knots, lets try for 30!’..which is of course 40!

I have an amazing 40 mins before I go on watch with nobody else waiting for the computer, and only one job to do – looking after the watermaker and filling the waterbottles, so I thought that I would send a few emails, but it always takes longer than I think, but that is French keyboards for you!

Brian! X

For exclusive technical blogs from Brian please visit the Yachting World Website

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Heading Home...

 Day14.3   'Heading Home'  45S 01E

Hi everyone

As you might have heard by now, we have turned our bows away from Cape Horn, and back towards Lorient, the boat’s home port.

Pascal took the decision this morning after speaking to all the team yesterday to get their views, and of course the sponsors, has decided to try for the Jules Verne Trophy another time. With only half a daggerboard we were only remotely likely to get the record, performance wise but also there was the added risk of the repair not working at 40 knots of boatspeed, and the rudder in the central hull being more exposed..

Everyone on board realises that it was the only sensible option. We tried really hard to keep going after the accident, but some things are just not going to happen in the way that you want them to. The good thing about the Jules Verne Trophy is that it can happen when you want, its not like the Vendee that occurs once every 4 years. The team are already planning improvements, ready for the next try.

A 33 percent success ratio is the historical norm for this record, backed up by Groupama having 2 failed attempts before finally getting the record last year. It is par for the course..

It has been a real privilege to sail with this team, I have enjoyed every second, and now there is an equal distance to get home, so I am sure we will learn more in the next thousands of miles. Spirits are good, obviously its everyone's dream to get this record, but there will be another chance. The boat is fast and safe and the crew are excellent, its just a matter of time and energy and the goal will be achieved.

Its been great that so many of you have been following this adventure, and special thanks to all those who sent messges; they were much appreciated here.

I am going to continue to write some reports to keep everyone up to date. But thanks for watching so far!

Latest news is that work will continue into a second night on the daggerboard and we should be reinstalling it tomorrow morning, just as the wind increases. Our speed is limited to 13 knots at present to protect the now empty daggerboard case, but for the last 24 hours we have dreamed of doing 13 knots!

An albatross was circling the boat all afternoon in the rolling swell and light winds; what an incredible sight;  wingtips just sliding over the swell with 10mm to spare. Going upwind with us without once flapping those long thin wings: What a goodbye from the south…

Slow going...

Boat Speed 7.8 knots
280.4 miles behind Groupama's record

Busy night here with no wind, no daggerboard and 2 of our 4 man watch on daggerboard repair duty. Pym and Yvon worked through the night with just a short nap, to build a carbon reinforced rebate into the bottom of the daggerboard to hold the 2 sides of the daggerboard together. Now they are filling in this large rebate with a mix of glue and cut up pieces of high density foam to make a nice hydrodynqmic tip to the now ultra short board. Last job is to put carbon over this endcap and to scarfe it into the carbon sides so that the board is not a millimetre wider than before – otherwise it won,t fit back into the case.

Hopefully it will be back in for the evening. All this night we have had winds from every direction possible, and so have gybed and tacked dozens of times, with the wind generally less than 5 knots. Sailing with no daggerboard is a little like a dinghy without one; not a lot of upwind progress.

Still pretty foggy here, though not too cold with the water at 12C.  We should be trickling across the 0 meridian later this morning. It has taken most of the night to get from Heathrow Airport longitude to Hammersmith, now just a few more miles to Greenwich – we are certainly walking at the moment and not going by motorbike!


Friday, 4 February 2011

The inside scoop...

6.8 knots
70.4 miles ahead of Groupama

1828 Just a quick update as you can imagine it is quite busy here with sailing the boat, and at the same time undertaking a big boatbuilding job on the deck.

The night before last I was on the helm doing a steady 37 knots when bang, we hit an unidentified object, which broke off the sacrificial tip of the daggerboard plus some of the main structure above, which includes a main vertical beam with 55mm of solid carbon on each side of a wood core..The night was pich black so no way to see or avoid the object.

That night, after backing down to remove any debris, we carried on, with extra vibration of course from the board. The next day, yesterday was windy so we carried on fast, though purposely flew the hull 5m in the air at one point to see the state of the board. We were surprised at the extent of the damage, it was more serious than expected and we knew there was a big repair ahead.

Last night the wind dropped, unfortunately for our lead over Groupama, but it has given us perfect conditions to extract the 600kg board and start repairs: Yvon and Pym are doing an outstanding job and are going to be working through the night: The broken bits are now cut off and a complex capping needs to be put in place over the cut end to withstand 40 knots of boatspeed.

All we can do now is try to get the repair done properly and find the wind again..

Right, I am cooking dinner tonight; so better go and serve it up, so will write more when able..


Photos of the damage onboard Banque Populaire V

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Back on the express train!

1830 2nd Feb 43S 26W

Incredible what a difference 24 hours can make when you are doing 700 miles a day!

From shorts and no t-shirt at night, to looking for that second layer of thermals in the daytime.
From flying fish to albatross.
From teasing out every .25 of a knot of speed to get 20 knots in flat water, to sailing in defensive mode, de-tuning the boat and driving cautiously to keep the speed below 38 knots!

Its now in the early 30 knots of windspeed and we are broad reaching with 3 reefs and the staysail, still with plenty of power to do a steady 35 knots of boatspeed.

Although we entered the Roaring Forties this morning its still sunny with clear visibility and a single set of waves. So great conditions and a few albatross have come for a distant inspection of the boat.

It was great to see the excitement of some of the guys…. Thierry Chabignet and Erwan Tabarly, both top Figaro sailors, (Erwan is the nephew or Eric Tabarly), were sitting together and enjoying their first sailing in the South, something they have probably both read about and dreamed about since they were kids sailing in Brittany.

Its certainly a good start to our Southern adventure, which is the real meat in the sandwich of this Trophee Jules Verne for giant multihulls.

We are on the Southern Ocean Express, though unfortunately there are engineering works ahead with a high pressure in our route. We are going to have to find a way around that barrier and Pascal, Juan and Marcel on the shore are working on the options, as the weather forecasts evolve. But right now its full steam ahead, and its a nice bonus, if perhaps a temporary one, to be getting ahead of Groupama's position again.

Just about to serve up dinner, Norwegian Chowder, should be just right served with the last loaf of fresh bread, specially double baked for us by a baker in Lorient, which has been delicious. Its vacumn packed slice white from tomorrow - cannot be on a French boat without du pain!

That’s all for now


This is what I came for!

0730 2 FEB 39 30S  32 30W
Speed hardly dropping below 34 knots all night.

A huge change from this time yesterday in temperature, wind speed and sea state.

Sailing with genoa and 2 reefs now, and just about to enter the Forties latitude on this next watch.

Several sail changes during the night demanded top concentration from all the crew, From big gennaker to medium; then one reef; then to the string; the name for the smallest gennaker; then 2 reefs, then to genoa. Each sail change we go to the genoa between changes for max speed which also helps to roll the gennakers in and out. The key crewmen , helm, bow, skipper, trimmer and pitman are all miked up so that shouting or hand signals are not required, then the other 8 are on the grinders providing the power.

On watch now, its going to be exciting driving,  great, its what we come here for..


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Tuesday evening update

Evening update

The train has finally pulled out of the station, after we have been waiting around on the platform for 3 days!
We are now feeling the effects of a small low pressure and For the first time since the equator we have have wind of over 20 knots and we are making the most of it, sitting at a steady 30plus knots of speed in relatively flqat seas. The sky is now cloudy, and it is starting to cool down outside as we rocket down through the 30s in latitude..
Whether this particular train is going all the way to the Cape of Good Hope, remains to be seen. The weather models still widely divergent even in a short time scale (something unlikely in the North Atlantic), so all we can do now is hang on and enjoy the ride..


Day 9.75 waiting for the express train south...

0730 1 Feb Pos 29S 38 30W

Still at the station waiting for the SE express train to pull in. Looks like it will be arriving tonight, though there are two different timetables on display, the European
 timetable is showing a direct service, and the US timetable is showing major engineering works and we could be taking the bus at times.
So the low is finally coming to us, but the 2 major weather models have widely divergent views on what is going to happen. Fingers crossed the European model is correct.

Otherwise its delightful sailing, no water on deck, now
warm instead of hot. Still big gennaker and full mainsail. We have done several gybes each day, and all have gone like clockwork. Moved sails back and forward as the wind increased and dropped,and hoisted and lowered the staysail several times. Spending most of the time fine tuning the precise shape of the gennaker and the position of the main traveller and mainsheet.

Saw a green flash at sunset then another at sunrise, which I think is a first for me. A green flash (rayon vert on board) is when the top 5 percent of the sun turns green when
only that piece is above the horizon. So the sun turns from yellow to a dayglow green just for a second. Its caused by that very low sun shining though thousands of miles of atmosphere and the rest of the light spectrum being absorbed, leaving just the green. It can only happen when the visibility is really good and there are no clouds on the horizon where the sun is sinking, or rising..
The one in the morning was really distinct, and I was filming it on video, so hope it came out. Thierry and Yvon saw it as well, so I am not making it up, and not been at sea too long..
Looking forward to leaving the South American coastline and heading for Africa!
Bye for now