Offshore racing

The ARC+ aboard Outremer 51 Piment Rouge - An Atlantic crossing as if you were right there! Part 1 of 2

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About Piment Rouge

Our catamaran is an Outremer 51. She reached the Canary Islands from La Grande Motte in the South of France - some 1,577 nautical miles - in a week, with peak speeds exceeding 20 knots. Piment Rouge is 51’4” (15.65 m) in length by 24’10” (7.57) in beam and weighs 25,265 lbs (11.46 t). Her draft with the daggerboards up is just over 3 feet (0.95 m), and her air draft, just shy of 76 feet (23.10 m). She has a 980 sq ft (91 m²) mainsail, a 409 sq ft (38 m²) solent and several downwind sails (from the smallest to the largest: an 882 sq ft (82 m²) Code 0, a 1,324 sq ft (123 m²) gennaker and a 1,722 sq ft (160 m²) asymmetric spinnaker. The lines required for all these sails and the other maneuvers add up to almost a kilometer (0.62 mi) total length.

The ARC+ route involves an east-west Atlantic crossing with a stopover in Cape Verde.


Las Palmas, November 1st - Safety check

We had to present the safety equipment for inspection by the organizers.

- An antenna for transmitting our position and receiving the position of the other boats (AIS) and the radio (VHF).

- The IOR dan buoy attached to the horseshoe lifering that can be thrown to someone overboard. Its height and light complement a lifejacket.

- The lifejacket inflation and light that automatically triggers when it comes into contact with water. The zipper bursts, releasing a protective hood and triggering a personal AIS beacon whose GPS coordinates will be detected aboard our multihull and any nearby boats. In the event of heavy weather, the harness lines allow you to clip on to the jackstays when moving around.

- Flares allow you to signal your presence in case of need, especially at night.

- Finally, if everything breaks down, paper charts allow you to navigate your way back to shore.


Las Palmas, November 6th Final preparations

Tomorrow is the big day! Departure is scheduled for 12.45 local time. We painted our logo on one of the boulders forming the breakwater – this has become a ritual in Las Palmas.
The start line is located between a yellow buoy and the committee boat, whose crew keep watch to ensure nobody is over the line before the start. The start isn’t static (at a standstill), but under way. All sails up! Given the weather, the start will be downwind. Optimizing the start consists of finding a reference point (GPS position or a transit/range marker or a buoy...), and timing how long is required between this point and the start line so as to cross the line at full speed just after the gun is fired (a blank of course) from a Spanish navy ship.


November 7th - “Full speed ahead” strategy!

A good start under full main and solent, soon supported by the gennaker. The downwind conditions allow us to surf the waves. The wind pushes us on average at 10 knots and some of the waves add another 10 knots, for the time of the surf. Such conditions allowed us to set the record for Piment Rouge at 24.4 knots. ...

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