|Le Breton Yachts Newsletter February 2010|
The SIG45 is currently in Valencia – we will be using her as a base from which to watch BMW Oracle’s powerful trimaran racing Alinghi’s elegant catamaran for sailing’s most prestigious trophy. These two boats are possibly the most sophisticated sailing boats ever built, and it will be a great privilege to watch the racing in person. If you are in Valencia , give us a call!
Baptism of Fire
The delivery of the SIG45 to Valencia from the Golfe de St Tropez was a 400 km journey. Violent winter storms in the Golfe du Lion had forced our crew of three to wait for 4 days for a suitable window to depart. Finally, the GRIB files forecast an easing of the winds to just 20-25 knots, so we headed west. The first four or five hours of sailing were uneventful, with 20-28 knots of wind between 70 and 130 degrees TWA and gentle seas. With one or two reefs in the main and the staysail or jib, boatspeed rarely dropped below 14 knots, and peaked at 20.65 – easy sailing accompanied by sunshine!
The Golfe du Lion (the large bay south of Marseilles ) has a nasty reputation for strong winds and steep, chaotic waves. We had planned to dash across at Cap Sicié, heading at 230 degrees towards Spain . The wind was a little unpredictable at the Cap, but as we started crossing the Golfe, the wind picked up again to 20 knots – just as the GRIBs had predicted. The SIG45 was in her element again. However, the wind did not stop filling at 20 knots. Within less than an hour, it had increased to a steady F8+, with gusts well over 40 knots (F10). Triple reefed with a storm jib, the SIG45 charged on unabated, with speeds between 15 and 19.5 knots, despite a very steep 3m beam sea. The relative calm on board, the crew well protected by the coaming and pilot houses, the stability and stiffness of the platform and the (for the circumstances) smooth ride, belied the by now menacing sea conditions.
A few hours after nightfall, the moon emerged, and the wind dropped back to about 20-25 knots. With just one person on watch easily able to take in and shake out reefs and change headsails while the others slept, the SIG45 kept up healthy speeds well into the teens all night.
The SIG45 really looked after us well that afternoon and night in the strongest winds she has seen to date. The conditions would have been challenging for any boat, but the SIG45 had shrugged them off. She tracked well, remained light on the helm, dealt with nasty waves with aplomb, never slammed thanks to her huge bridgedeck clearance and, perhaps most importantly, very quickly took us out of the area where the winds were the strongest. She showed us how speed, comfort and safety really can be combined in one package.