After an eleven-month build at the Multiplast yard in Vannes, the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild hit the water for the first time last Friday 7 August. However, this initial contact with the liquid element was in no way synonymous with the start of sea trials. Indeed, launched without a keel or a mast, the 60-footer fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild quickly made for nearby Lorient to have these precious elements stepped and undergo a series of tests that are compulsory for any new IMOCA monohull, with the emphasis on checking compliance with the class measurement. Suffice to say that the members of Gitana have had a hectic week.
For the past week, Sébastien Josse and the members of Gitana Team have spared no effort. Immediately after her launch last Friday, the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild was delivered to her port of registry in Lorient so as to have her keel stepped over the weekend. With the imposing 4.5-metre appendage securely in position, the most recent of the Gitana fleet once again sampled the delights of the ocean at noon last Monday. On the programme for the start of the week: 180° righting tests and mast stepping prior to the static tests and the 90° test. Such operations are always tricky (see video above) but they were carried out to perfection by the five-arrow team.
180° and 90° tests
These tests, which are a welcome sight for those strolling around the Keroman submarine base, the majority of whom are both amazed and amused by the freestyling moves that the carbon monster is subjected to, are primarily geared towards safety. As shown by the images taken aboard the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild on Monday, the 180° righting test is by far the most spectacular of the tests required by the IMOCA measurement. Sébastien Josse gives us the low-down on the principle behind this operation: “With the help of strops, the crane pulls on the bulb to gently rotate the boat through 90 then 180°. Once she is upside down, the boat is relatively stable with her keel vertical. As such, you need to activate the keel from inside the boat and without external assistance to heel her to the left or the right so as the bulb weight acts as a pendulum and enables the boat to right again. This test is compulsory to check that the skipper and the boat are able to right themselves without assistance in the event of a capsize.”
Meantime, the so-called 90° test enables the boat’s true centre of gravity to be determined so as to adjust her power.
Less telegenic than those involving self-righting, the static tests are just as important, as the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild explains: “Alongside, we test all the elements where there is the most stress and check how much strain they can withstand. We exert pressure on the boat to see if all the composite parts can take the load. From the runners which can withstand up to 3 tonnes, to the mainsheet tackle to the hooks…. you have to increase the strain to the theoretical working load and check that the integrity of the structure is intact.”
“As ever, the team has done an outstanding job in the space of a week, which means we can go for our first sail in the next few days,” says Sébastien Josse, who makes no secret of how keen he is to finally familiarise his new steed with the open ocean.