The record-breaking achievement of Banque Populaire VII, winner of the 2014 Route du Rhum transatlantic single-handed yacht race is a tribute to the combined efforts of her designers (Van Peteghem Lauriot-Prevost) builders (Multiplast) and, not least, the skill of her skipper Loïck Peyron in setting the performance of this exceptional ocean-racing trimaran against the forces of wind, sea and weather.
There was, however, another source of power provided unseen and hardly heard below-decks – a Yanmar 4JH4-HTE 110mhp four-cylinder diesel auxiliary engine. As well as providing back-up propulsion when needed, it also generates the electricity to power the trimaran’s autopilot, watermaker and electronics.
It would never profit grand prix ocean-racing yachtsmen and women to use the propulsive power of engines under racing conditions, but it’s easy to forget that diesel is usually the original source of power driving navigational and communication systems and essential services aboard. That’s as well as enabling low-speed manoeuvring onto and off pontoons, quite apart from the invaluable support they give in emergencies if yachts are dismasted, hit floating obstructions or lose their keels as can happen during ocean races. At such times they often provide the vital power to keep search and rescue systems functioning.
When Loïck Peyron helmed his 31.5m LOA trimaran over the winning line at Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe on November 10 last year after having sailed more than 3,540 nautical miles from the start line at Saint Malo, Brittany, he had covered the distance in just 7 days and 15 hours and trimmed 2 hours and 10 minutes off the record.
Fortunately, this time he had no need to resort to back-up from either the engine or any other agency. If that had been the case, however, he could have been confident that the Yanmar diesel would have been unlikely to let him down, such is the dependability for which this engine manufacturer is renown.
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