Naval architect Guillaume Verdier, in collaboration with VPLP, is continuing to develop his thinking by venturing to Itajaï to soak up the impressions of the first arrivals as they step off their boat
"I really like coming to race finishes. It’s always a very emotional moment. The Transat Jacques Vabre is a fantastic race. I’ve been following the race on a daily basis on the Internet, but I’m also in close contact with the teams. Hearing the skippers’ declarations fresh off the boats is a real bonus because they’re still in the heat of the race and what is apparent from the comments by the first arrivals is that the boats need even better protection than they have right now. As architects, we design boats by calculation and estimate the theoretical performance, but these numbers are often substantially corrupted due to the boats having their decks or cockpits covered in water, which adds a large amount of additional weight, or because the guys are cold or because they don’t always manage to get an optimum angle of heel. These are elements, which need to be integrated into our future considerations. We’re constantly trying to take into account these factors but it’s not easy. The Transat Jacques Vabre is special because the sailors are really pushing the boats hard. They’re a lot closer to their maximum performance than on the Vendée Globe. The fact that the slightly older boats have secured first and second place shows that these IMOCA 60s still remain highly competitive. PRB is certainly the lightest of the fleet. On top of the boat’s architectural base, there are constant improvements to be made in the various elements, such as the appendages. You can modify a daggerboard slightly. That opens up another perspective and the skipper realises that he can sail slightly differently. A change of sails will enable them to sail different angles and hence get the boat making better headway… that’s why we’ve seen broken rudders. It’s because the skippers have been pushing them a lot harder. Once again because the sails have evolved, along with the daggerboards, the accumulation of all these improvements means that certain areas need to be reviewed as they were initially designed for less significant constraints… I think that those who came off well are those who were the most consistent. You have to be very well prepared, have a boat which goes well, push it but also be sparing with it at the same time, and save your energy with a mind to the following day where you need to continue to attack… You have to be at the top of your game in all the different sectors without taking things to the extreme."