Spanish journalist Dury Alonso, well-connected in the European offshore sailing scene, revealed yesterday in his blog that Cheminées Poujoulet has been plagued since months now with serious problems on her hydorgenerators due to “absurd errors” on their mounting at the transom of the boat. His detailed technical analysis and inside information shed ample light on the issue.
It now seems that not only didn’t Cheminées Poujoulat’s shore crew follow the recommendations by the hydrogenerator manufacturer, Watt & Sea, they mounted them in such a way that they couldn’t swing and retract when hitting an object. Not only that, Bernard Stamm crossed the starting line of the Vendée Globe well aware that Watt & Sea wouldn’t honor the guarantee precisely because of these modifications.
Can Bernard Stamm blame his problems on bad luck? Has his team informed the public that Watt & Sea had warned them about the modifications they had carried out? When he was disqualified by the Vendée Globe Jury a few days ago, nearly all competing skippers rallied behind him and asked the Jury to reconsider their decision. Now, forced to limit energy consumption to the bear minimum he sees no alternative other than refuel before rounding Cape Horn.
According to reliable information, Stamm remained moored to the Russian vessel during two hours. Why? If it really was an emergency and the only way to avoid colliding with the Russians was to moor why did it have to be for so long? It doesn’t make any sense. Since Stamm will receive outside help by refueling at Cape Horn, the debate on whether he should have been disqualified or not becomes philosophical. However, the Cheminées Poujoulat team have nobody else to blame but themselves for the continuous breakdowns and breakages of their hydrogenerators.
This is what Dury Alonso had to say about the hydrogenerator issue onboard Cheminées Poujoulat:
“Bernard Stamm started the Vendée Globe on the wrong foot because he started having problems with his hydrogenerators as early as off the coast of Portugal. Months before the start of the Vendée Globe he already encountered problems with one of them because it was flooded by water as a result of not being properly mounted. Finally, before the start of the race, the manufacturer of his hydrogenerators sent a letter stating the warranty was not valid any longer because the Cheminées Poujoulat team had altered them in their entirety.”
“Some genius at the Cheminées Poujoulat shore crew decided to modify the hydrogenerators purchased from Watt & Sea so that they produced more electricity. In addition, they designed a mount that was contrary to the installation recommended by the manufacturer.”
“It is difficult to assess the modifications carried out by the internal technical team of Cheminées Poujoulat due to the lack of technical data, although the work carried out has not been very effective. But what is more incoherent is the mount they devised for the hydrogenerators at the transom of the Open 60.
“The right way is that the hydrogenerator can be retracted by swinging about a pivot point. The Cheminées Poujoulat technicians devised a mount that allows the hydrogenerator to be lifted and lowered vertically. However, once the hydrogenerator is immersed, a sudden collision with an unidentified floating object will always strike directly against the hydrogenerator and since it is unable to swing, it either resists the impact or it flies away, the way it happened yesterday to Bernard Stamm.”
Bernard has sailed halfway around the world suffering from hydrogenerator breakdowns. And curiously, when he stopped south of New Zealand, he didn’t think about devising a different way to mount the hydrogenerators and avoid suffering the same consequences.
But the obsession with weight has led Bernard to commit more mistakes, although he’s not the only one making them in this regard. He doesn’t carry aboard a third spare hydrogenerator nor does he have any spare parts to repair the ones he has on board. In addition, he carried less fuel, thinking that the hydrogenerators would not have any problem charging the batteries to the maximum, which is true as long as they work properly. He now finds himself desperate.”