Sunday, July 08, 2012

French Racing Sailboat Arrives in LA Port

French sail vessels prepping for the Transpac Race From Los Angeles to Hawaii
San Pedro Gets a Sneak Peek at l'Hydroptere - A Sleek Sailing Racer Its French maker Claims Can Fly Over the Sea

By Diana L. Chapman

   They don't really want you to know about it.
   But it's difficult to miss. Sitting like a small airplane ready for takeoff at the most southern tip of Miner Street in San Pedro, the aerodynamic/marine cross, nearly 60 feet longvessel arrived at the Port of Los Angeles this week to make adjustments  and prepare for a potentially history making challenge.
   The French team wants to break the 2005 Transpac record -- a sailing race that starts near the Point Fermin Lighthouse in San Pedro and ends off the Diamond Head Lighthouse -- 2,215 nautical miles across the sea.
   And that's exactly why the "l'Hydroptere -DCNS" is here in Los Angeles- at the newly developed Cabrillo Marina in the Port of Los Angeles -- to prove its one of the fastest sailing vessels to exist.
   While it's French makers claims it can practically fly and skim over the sea, the group has set out to topple the record-breaker-- the Trimaran Geronimo (also sailed by a French team in 2005) which made the journey if four days, 19 hours and 37 seconds, said Rachel Campbell, a Port of Los Angeles spokeswoman.
   "After an anxious 24 hours prior to crossing the finish line, the crew on board Geronimo have succeeded in breaking the previous record of 5 days, 9 hours and 26 seconds, set in the 1997 Transpac  race by Bruno Peyron, by 13 hours," according to the International Sailing Federation's website."
   L'Hydroptere will visit for a few more days as its crew installs a new rudder and works on the "sail drive," Campbell said, and the crew doesn't want any visitors.
   On Friday, the team used a 15 foot tall crane to make mechanical improvements as they prepare for the 2012 Transpac race. L'Hydroptere was shipped to Los Angeles by a cargo arriving at the port on July 5 and was reassembled. "The big carbon bird" and its team awaits safe weather conditions to start on the race. Captain Alain Thebault and his four crew members hope to leave in 72 hours, a media release said.
   "The five sailors will initially position themselves in a 'a code red situation," as they await favorable conditions and prepare for the challenge on site. As soon as a propitious weather window presents itself, they'll switch to a 'code orange,' which is synonymous with a departure in the next 72 hours."
   Thebault's dream since childhood was to engineer a sailboat that could fly and was able to persuade other sailors and industrialists to design such a vessel alongside him.
   Should he beat the current record, Thebault might take flight and glide into sailing  history.