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Thursday, May 4, 2006

 

Taming the Sea Monster

`”What we do with these boats is amazing,” says Thomas Coville, who was at the helm of Sodebo. “To be flying on the foils at 35 knots with the sail at the perfect angle is such a feeling.”

“There’s no aspect of sailing that’s more demanding or exciting,” Foxall says. He should know: He has competed in the America’s Cup and the globe-circling Volvo, and in 2004 he won the Quebec-Saint-Malo transatlantic race.

But the Jacques Vabre disaster posed a dilemma: In a sport made exciting by engineering and design innovation, have things gone too far? Maybe technology has taken sailors to a place they shouldn’t be going in ocean racing. Even Nigel Irens, a multihull designer whose trimaran Banque Populaire won the race, admits: “The power of these boats is getting beyond the reach of sailors. The problem is that you either break, capsize, or win.”‘




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