North Sails NEWS

Story Contributors: Danielle Neri

Spindrift 2 finished a Jules Verne record attempt at 15:01 UTC on Friday January 8th, claiming the second fastest circumnavigation on record. They sailed over 29,000 miles in 47 days 10 hours 59 minutes and 02 seconds, clocking an average speed of 25.35 knots.

Among the 13 crew onboard is Jacques Guichard, who has sailed with the team since 2012 aboard the Maxi as well as the MOD70, D35 and GC32. Jacques is a North Sails project manager based at the loft in Vannes, FRA, a well known loft among French offshore sailors. Managing the sail program for Spindrift 2 is a unique project with many demands and specifications, which depend largely on the next world record the team sets out to break.

For their attempt at the Jules Verne Trophy, Jacques opted for North Sails 3Di ENDURANCE for its unmatched qualities of performance and durability. “ I know every square inch of the sails!” he said, acknowledging the design vision and workmanship that went into them and confirming the crew did not experience a single issue throughout their lap of the globe.

We caught up with Jacques to hear more about his Jules Verne experience, and we were not disappointed! Read on to learn of his experiences sailing the 131’ machine that is Spindrift 2. [Note – even if he insists, we’ll never feel “stuck” while sailing 25 knots!]

NS: Around the world in 47 days is no time at all. Did the experience fly by? What are the parts you will remember most?

JG: Yes, before this one I had never spent more than 12 days at sea, back in 2004 on a 60′ ORMA trimaran. In fact time really flies by with everything you have to do: helming, trimming, the maneuvers, plus the daily maintenance and cleaning of the boat. Only the days when we were slower (On Spindrift 2 you feel stuck when boatspeed is below 25 knots….) felt a bit longer.

The best memories are definitely the first few days at full pelt downwind (3 days to Cape Verde), Cape Horn in perfect conditions and 500 nm ahead of the record, and obviously helming sessions at 40 kts!

NS: There were days we heard from the boats about severely rough weather. At one point both IDEC and Spindrift 2 decided to stay North of a storm because the risk was too great. Can you tell us what was going through your head at this time?

JG: This boat is designed to sail fast in big breeze and heavy seas and we trust it 100%, however at some point you need to slow down. Fast but not furious as Loïck Peyron said before us…

NS: A true test of a good sailor is to know when to push and when to throttle back. In your experience, what is the best way to understand the limits of your equipment and your crew?

JG: On multihulls and especially the big ones, anticipation is key. Everything is so loaded that you can make mistakes and break things very quickly. So when you plan to furl your headsails or take a reef everything needs to be prepared well in advance. If you are late you can severely damage the sails or lose control of the boat, and then it becomes dangerous. Sails are damaged during maneuvers if you do not pay enough attention, so you must remain in control all the time. Remember we almost have 30+ knts AWS all the time…

NS: Lets talk about the sails, you were instrumental in their creation and oversaw every detail before, during and after the record attempt. Will you describe this process and tell us the sails’ performance underway? 

JG: I know every square inch of the sails!

Spindrift 2 has been a really special project. The worlds largest trimaran – with my brother at the helm! – I worked 200% to make sure everything was perfect. So I have been a real pain onboard but in the end I am super happy since we did not have a single issue… except a broken zipper on a bag!

To be a good sailmaker you need to go sailing because no computer can simulate the exact sea state, the sudden squalls, the way sails are moved around on the boat (where they suffer most!); nothing can beat a round-the-world trip for that!

As a project manager at North Sails, I provide technical and design input before the sails are built, then I follow the manufacturing process very closely and finally I go sailing and fine-tune the sails with our customers. So it’s really an A to Z job and this is why I like it so much.

NS: Were there any fun or humorous moments among the crew that you can share with us? Excerpts of “living” onboard the Maxi? 

JG: Sure! Christmas on board was fun , we had our own Santa Claus who brought presents for everyone… We also ended the trip with new nicknames as detailed by Dona. Finally for one hour a Northern Gannet has tried to land on our mainsail’s square top but he just could not because of the boatspeed, and kept sliding back… that was fun to watch but it almost broke our masthead unit!

NS: Completing a circumnavigation is a major milestone. What did it mean for you and will you do it again?

JG: For me the milestone of this trip was definitely Cape Horn. This is a special place and the world’s greatest offshore sailors have been there so I was very happy to see it after 30 days and a few hours (a new world record). However, we missed the Jules Verne Trophy by 45 hours, so this is unfinished business for all of us. We will get back and this means I will be on stand-by again in 10 months time (laughs).

Based in the south of Brittany, the racing stable Spindrift racing was founded by Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard in 2011. Spindrift racing runs six boats for four complementary projects: a trimaran MOD70 (Spindrift), a Decision 35 catamaran (Ladycat powered by Spindrift racing), two trimarans Diam 24, a GC32 foiling catamaran and the 40 metre maxi-trimaran (Spindrift 2). You can follow their ventures at Spindrift Racing.