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Well done Armel and Alex – in Gaffers too!


I have to say that the last few weeks of the Vendee had me utterly transfixed. Watching the “Distance To Leader” yo-yo back and forth as they battled their way up the Atlantic was true edge of the seat stuff. But what took me aback the most wasn’t so much the flimsy wingy things but the way that the IMOCA 60 designs hark back to a ships of old…

 

Modern Gaffer Hugo Boss


Let’s see now… Carbon Fibre? Yep – Amelie Rose is made of carbon fibre. Plumb Stem, yep got one of those. Bowsprit? Definitely! And not one of those tiny stubby things either. Squared off top to the mainsail? Done! Yes sir, it seems like the modern take on good ocean boats is heading back our way!


Of course there are a lot of differences too. Amelie Rose weighs in at 24 tons and no amount of flappy foil things is going to lift her out of the water, oh no. On the other hand it does make her motion at sea a hell of a lot more comfortable than the likes of Hugo Boss. In turn this means that her crew don’t have to go to the gym for a year in order to be ready for the passage. Neither will they lose several stones in weight during the trip – even flat out it’s still possible to cook down below and eat up on deck.


While we’re at it “flat out” isn’t quite the same thing either. Amelie’s top speed to date is a shade over 10 knots through the water, albeit whilst rolling down a wave. And though she’ll pile along all day at 8 knots in good conditions, she’s never going to pose a serious challenge to Alex’s new 24 hour distance record.


Modern Gaffer Amelie Rose


But hell, sometimes the journey is more interesting than the destination. I like slow travel (though believe me, 24 tons at 8 knots feels far from slow). Slow travel gives you time to reflect, time to soak in the experience and time to connect to the boat and her environment.


So hurrah for the young guns and their super shiny surfing ships; and hurrah as well for those of us who prefer to plod along at a more comfortable pace.

 

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