After consulting with designer Nigel Irens, Fred Le Peutrec judges the risk of structural failure too great to continue

After consulting with Nigel Irens, the designer of his trimaran, Frederic Le Peutrec announced this morning that he, too, is retiring from the Route du Rhum. The risk of structural damage to the boat was judged too great and Le Peutrec is turning for home while his boat Bayer CropSciences is still intact.

His sponsor commented: “In light of the current events, there is no point in taking additional human and technical risk. Our objective is to concentrate on the coming season and use it this winter to recalculate the structural stresses.”

The boat is one of the new batch of Irens designs and features an X beam configuration. This is the same configuration used on Loick Peyron’s Fujifilm and Karine Fauconnier’s Sergio Tacchini, which have both broken floats, leading to a catastrophic sequence of events. With the platform no longer intact, they both lost their rigs.

The primary reason for the X beam configuration, which most of the new boats share – including designs by Marc Van Peteghem and Vincent Lauriot Prévost – is to maximise the cockpit area of the trimaran and improve the ergonomics. This allows the boat to be sailed more effectively by the full crew needed for short course regattas, increasingly an important part of the ORMA 60 circuit.

By placing loads in opposition to each other, these X-beam trimarans are much stiffer in torsion, but whether that is desirable in the conditions these boats have been experiencing must be a question in itself.