Ladies’ Kite!

Though our President Marco Simeoni embodies the Race For Water Foundation, a team of ladies forms part of his fine entourage, all with a range of diverse and varied talents, and all passionate about supporting the cause: the conservation of the Oceans. On shore, there is Magda, Daphnée, Camille, Kim, Virginie and Corentine. At sea, aboard the catamaran flying the Foundation’s flag, we have Anne-Laure, Annabelle and Anne.

On this International Women’s Day, the latter two members of the team were keen to treat us to a moment of escapism. The first all-female kite flight aboard Race For Water, with some 100 tonnes towed by Annabelle Boudinot, second in command, and Anne Le Chantoux, sailor, who began her journey of discovery of the marine universe when she joined the odyssey last year…

A fine challenge! Bravo ladies and thanks for this great kite session!

Account from Annabelle:

How does the kite work?

“Between Panama and Peru, a gentle downwind breeze kicked in enabling our kite to be flown… by the girls, with myself and Anne in control! I very much enjoy working with Anne; I really trust her, she’s a very good sailor. She’s dependable, attentive and focused; and to launch ourselves into the procedure to power up the kite, that’s just what’s required!

The kite enables us to use the wind’s energy. We fly it when there’s between 25 and 60 km/hr of wind, which is what we call a “moderate breeze” in sailor-speak. It has to blow side on, “abeam” of us in our jargon, or over the back of the boat.

Our kites are similar to the wings used by paragliders. Our wings are 20 to 40m² and fill with wind. When you think about it, that’s pretty small! A classic kitesurfer’s wing, the kind you see on beaches, can easily measure up to 12m2 for a person who barely weighs 80kg… Meantime, our boat weighs in at 100 tonnes!

Once the kite is aloft it flies in a figure of 8 movement, which enables an increase in the amount of wind that hits the wings and that has a direct impact on its power. This figure of 8 is piloted automatically from the boat.

This figure of 8 enables the effort in the towing line to be multiplied by 25. It’s through this line, hooked up to the boat, that we can pull directly on the kite. Thanks to the kite and the whole system developed by our SkySails Yacht partner, we can reach 5-8 knots (10-15 km/hr), which bumps up our usual cruising speed of 4 knots.

When we’re flying the kite, the electric motors consume little or no electricity. As a result, the electricity from the solar panels can be specifically directed into charging our batteries, or producing hydrogen!”

Every man is strong if he knows how to go about it

“Flying among girls is but a veiled reference. I’ve always been amazed as a sailor about the difference gender can represent. For me, at sea, I am a sailor first and foremost. Being a woman seems independent of that fact. At sea, on no matter which boat, there is an increase in effort. When I was young, we sailed on an 8m60 cruiser, so for a 10-year-old child, the effort involved was already significant. At the time, my father would repeat over and over “Every man is strong if he knows how to go about it, and by man I mean human being! If you have the right technique, you’ll get there on your own!” He was right.”