It’s 12:11:45 off the coast of Brest – Pascal Bidegorry and his crew of 13 cross the starting line of the Jules Verne Trophy aboard the Maxi Banque Populaire, very determined to snatch the epic trophy away from another giant, Groupama 3, holder of the record in round-the-world crew racing (read also our article: Jules Verne Trophy : 48 days 07 hours 44 minutes for Groupama 3). Both boats share a common point: they were designed by the naval architectural firm VPLP.
One is much larger than the other: 40 meters for Banque Populaire compared to 31.5 meters for Groupama 3. Though the pretender to the title is more powerful, giving her more liberty to choose the optimal course of navigation, the crew must be that much more vigilant. The machine is more complicated…
This is how the architect Lauriot-Prévost explains it. And he reckons that Banque Populaire could edge her bow across the Equator within five days time.
What differentiates Banque Populaire from Groupama 3?
Banque Populaire is 30% more powerful than the Groupama 3. This requires more crew members for maneuvering the boat and more weight in the running and standing rigging. It is a more sophisticated boat with a canting mast and trimmer centerboard, two performance elements that necessitate closer supervision (hydraulic and mechanism) than a fixed mast and trimmer-less centerboard.
On the other hand, the additional performance means higher performance. Banque Populaire benefits from this advantage and can move over the water at higher speeds, change courses more quickly if the sailing conditions are poor.
What advantages does this boat have in order to win the Jules Verne Trophy ?
Her length allows her to be more at ease in the south than Groupama 3. Her weight/sail surface ratio is equivalent to that of Groupama 3, which should enable her to do at least as well in the two Atlantic Ocean legs : descending north-south and returning south-north.
What are the ideal navigation conditions for Banque Populaire?
The same as for Groupama 3 with a bit more margin in wind and ocean force. Undoubtedly she will be slightly penalized in zones where there is little wind, and the crew will have to do their best to circumvent these.
The record to beat: 48 days, 7 hours 44 minutes.
Photo Credit: © B.STICHELBAUT/BPCE
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