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Vincent Riou: a new wing mast for PRB

IMOCA 60' PRB - Skipper : Vincent RIOU - Vendée Globe 2016-17 - Port La Forêt 28/03/2016
© Benoît Stichelbaut / PRB

Vincent, with less than 100 days to go until the start of the Vendée Globe, where are you at with the PRB project?
“Well the boat’s sitting pretty in her shed, where she’s been undergoing a refit since the end of June. It’s her final refit before the start of the Vendée Globe. Overall, it’s the end of the technical preparation phase. Right now, we’re in the process of making the back-up systems reliable, which means everything that can be used in conjunction and in an emergency if the main systems fail (automatic pilot, navigation, electrical circuits, etc.). We’re also giving her a lick of paint so things are quietly running their course. An air of calm prevails over everything.”

© Benoît Stichelbaut / PRBWe understand that you’re having a new mast made for PRB…
“Yes, that quite right! It’s not exactly a revolution, as the new mast we’ve had manufactured is very similar to the previous one. Originally, we had a mast that was the oldest of the fleet and we’d detected a few issues with it related to wear. We still competed in the transatlantic races with it and things went pretty well. However, it was important to set sail on the Vendée Globe with a new one. I haven’t really spoken much about it, because there isn’t really any competition between the teams on that score, given that the masts are now one-designs. It’s finished so we’re painting it and then we’ll dress it.”

So you had it manufactured at Lorima in the moulds of the one-design wing mast?
“Yes and once again it’s very similar to what we’ve had up till now. The only objective was to improve the safety factor a little more and we’ve pulled that off. We have indeed used the moulds of the one-design wing mast. I’d asked the question to the people who design the masts on my boats and on overlapping all the data, utilising these one-design moulds proved to be the best solution, so that’s what we’ve done.”

“Things will be fizzing with excitement from September”

When will PRB’s refit be complete?

“The end of the refit is scheduled for 8 August and then we’ll link straight onto the class measurement on 9 and 10 August and by 15 August we’ll already be in full working order. The idea is to do the calibrations and trials, particularly with regards the sails, before taking part in the first of the Pôle France Course Au Large’s training sessions in Port-la-Forêt, Brittany, which is scheduled for the end of August. In the meantime, I’m having a few days’ holiday to unwind with family. That’s an important part of the process as we’re all well aware that things will be fizzing with excitement from September and we’ll only have very little time to devote to our nearest and dearest.”

There is an air of quiet confidence about you…
“We didn’t really have a fabulous spring in the sense that we didn’t manage to win a race, but similarly we always managed to finish well placed. Most importantly, we were able to confirm the fact that the boat performs well and as we imagined she would. We’re sticking to our game plan, which really suits me and it enables me to practice some sport, get some rest and spend a bit of quality time with the family, so that’s pretty good! Now’s the time to enjoy a little peace and quiet if we want it…”

 

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