The largest racing trimaran in the world has been optimised for the demanding North Atlantic and 24-hours crewed records and then for the solo Route du Rhum. Meanwhile, Zenith unveiled the El Primero Lightweight at Baseworld, a hi-tech, ultra-light watch engraved Spindrift Racing, which is available in a limited edition (250 pieces).”I congratulate the Spindrift racing team for getting this work done despite such a tight schedule,” Guichard, the skipper, said. With a shorter mast, new sails, new centreboard, new autopilots, general weight loss and a modified deck plan and fittings, the last few weeks have been very busy. “We look forward to being at sea and enjoying the high performance of this fantastic boat,” Guichard added. “The changes made for the North Atlantic and the Route du Rhum mean we have the potential for a stronger performance even while we’re pushing Spindrift 2 less hard. I’ve always tried to sail with finesse, whether in Olympics or offshore and even on a machine of this size, it is possible.”
8,000 HOURS OF WORK
Antoine Carraz, the technical manager and part of the sailing team, said: “We are split between stress and excitement. We fixed the date for the launch of Spindrift 2 three months ago; it’s a point of pride for the team to meet that deadline. Most notably we made structural changes which were necessary after the reduction in size of the mast, these were long and complicated tasks. Spindrift 2 is also a huge puzzle with parts coming from all over Europe and the United States. Coordination of all this is a daily challenge that we have overcome.”
DEVELOPMENT: GETTING TO THE POINT
All efforts will initially focus on checking the new rig and sail plan. With a shorter mast, cut by six metres, the ‘engine’ of the boat has changed. “We will analyse the fixed rigging by load testing on the dock then gradually increase the pressure when we’re out sailing,” Guichard said. On April 10, the high-performance work will begin under the charge of Erwan Israël, who has been sailing with the team for a year and is the navigator for the record attempts. “We don’t have much time to test Spindrift 2, so we have to get straight to the point,” Guichard added. “The goal is to establish new speed parameters for the trimaran, both for crewed and solo, i.e. to establish the optimal ‘instruction manual’ for the machine depending on the different weather conditions encountered. This is a crucial stage, where you have to listen to how the boat feels in conjunction with running the numbers, so you have the most complete picture of the boat.”
CREW AND SOLO PREPARATION, THE RIGHT MIX
Spindrift racing will be on standby in the United States from the start of June. Until then, the crew will train in La Trinité-sur-Mer and then on the delivery to Newport, where Spindrift 2 will be based whilst waiting for a good window to sprint from New York for North Atlantic record. “This is one of the hardest times to beat,” Guichard said. “With Dona, we have great confidence in the sailors around us and in their ability to tame this new Spindrift 2. I am also weighing up the size of the task of what awaits me on the Route du Rhum. The intention is not to load excessive pressure on my shoulders but rather to take it step by step. At first, I am going to sail to ‘faux solo’ with some teammates to gain confidence before rushing into the solo side. It will also be a chance to test specific changes for the Route du Rhum, like the bike to hoist the sails.”
AN AVANT-GARDE PARTNER
For its part, Zenith has designed a cutting edge sports version of its legendary chronograph. It has the same specifications as Spindrift 2 i.e. remove superfluous weight, increase performance and ensure originality. Requirements that relied on the use of high-tech materials.
Known for their ability to combine technological innovation with creative daring, the engineers and watchmakers of the Manufacture were entrusted with the mission of developing a light watch with a sporty design, while making no compromises on precision, sturdiness and reliability – just as one optimises an engine intended for competition. The sizeable feat began with the movement. Drawing upon its latest research on new materials, Zenith selected titanium – a light and sturdy material widely used in aeronautics – to build the movement bridges.
La nouvelle El Primero Lightweight se distingue par son boîtier en carbone mettant en oeuvre une construction originale et complexe. Elle allie dynamique fluide et légèreté en révélant une puissance hors norme. S’appuyant sur ses dernières recherches liées aux nouveaux matériaux, Zenith a choisi le titane – un métal léger et résistant, très utilisé en aéronautique – pour usiner les principaux éléments du mouvement, les plus lourds lorsqu’ils sont fabriqués en laiton, à savoir la platine et cinq ponts (pont de barillet, pont de balancier, pont d’ancre, pont de roue d’ancre et pont de chronographe). Pour un gain de poids final de quelque 25%. La transparence de la partie centrale a permis de gagner en légèreté, tout en laissant la vue libre sur le calibre squeletté El Primero. Le système d’affichage de la date par disque est également travaillé tout en efficacité et en légèreté, avec des chiffres percés se détachant sur une pastille rouge à 6h. Les index facettés ont été creusés au maximum, avant d’être soulignés d’un revêtement luminescent.
The new El Primero Lightweight is distinguished by its carbon case featuring an original and complex construction. It combines flowing dynamics and lightness while displaying exceptional power. Based on its latest research in the domain of new materials, Zenith chose titanium – a light and highly resistant metal widely used in aeronautics – to make the main parts of the movements which are the heaviest when they are made in brass: namely the mainplate and five bridges (barrel bridge, balance bridge, lever-bridge, lever-wheel bridge and chronograph bridge). The result is a 25% lighter weight. The openworked dial provides another bird’s eye view of this legendary movement, a dynamic reinterpretation of the collection’s classic design characteristics. The transparency of the central part makes it even lighter and provides a clear view of the skeleton-worked El Primero calibre. The disc-type date display is also both light and efficient thanks to cut-out stencil-style numerals standing out against a red dot at 6 o’clock. The generously hollowed-out facetted hour-markers bear a luminescent coating.
Sporty, contemporary and decidedly masculine, the new El Primero Lightweight gives a new breath of life to the Zenith collection, while confirming the innovative capacities and creative daring of the Manufacture.
June-August: Standby, North Atlantic (NYC-Lizard Point) and 24-hour crewed record.
To beat: Pascal Bidegorry in August 2009 (Maxi Banque Populaire V) with a crossing of 3d 15h 25 min 48s (32.94 knots) and 908 miles in 24 hours (37.84 knots)
November 2: Start of the Route du Rhum-Guadeloupe (Saint-Malo-Pointe-A-Pitre).