Loick Peyron likes to play Purcell and Handel's Messiah at sea - to warn off whales


A few last stories from the Artemis Transat. First, the whales again. There were more collisions and sightings than it might appear – at least 20 sightings and eight collisions among the two classes.

I had this email from Laurence Woodward on the subject: ‘I think all the sailors involved have a moral responsibility to sort something out. Merchant vessels are noisy due to the mode of propulsion and probably don’t actually hit that many. For a yacht race to kill and injure so many is unacceptable.’

He adds: ‘Both Ellen and the Volvo boys carp on about their green credentials (sad reality is all modern boats are a load of toxic crap never mind the rockets etc for our nav and communications) and with the Volvo Ocean Race off shortly maybe its time to put the house in order. I can only suggest modifying the net pingers some of the pair trawlers use to stop catching dolphins in the Western Approaches.’

Interestingly, when I interviewed Loick Peyron after the Transat he agreed that some form of deterrent ought to be part of the investment for these races – for all concerned. He suggested that if it were possible to safely create some kind of resonance from appendages that might do the trick.

“I did not have many collisions compared with others when I sailed the trimarans,” he told me, “because I had boats with quite noisy daggerboards and they buzzed so maybe [the whales] could hear it.” He also told me he plays music a lot “Handel, Vivaldi – and Purcell,” he added with a twinkle. He said he’d play music louder if it weren’t for the need to hear the sounds of the boat.

One other skipper I talked to had been advised never to speak of hitting a whale in any kind of communications, only an an ‘unidentified object’ because of the possibility of negative publicity. My guess we will have many fewer collisions with whales in the future anyway because of this realisation.