Sailing has existed as a means of transport for millennia and the spirit of sportsmanship is as old as humanity itself. This combination has given rise to some interesting sports such as regattas.

At the Vendée Globe ‘20-‘21, for example, a non-stop, round-the-world regatta which takes place every four years, a total of 167 solo sailors started on the Clipper route. This route began in Les Sables-d’Olonne, a town in western France on the Atlantic, and travels over the Atlantic Ocean to the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.

The route travels clockwise around the Antarctic via Cape Leeuwin – the most south-westerly point on the Australian continent – over to Cape Horn, Tierra del Fuego, southern Chile, and then back to Les Sables-d’Olonne, France.

Entrants navigated 44 000 km between November and February ’20-’21. Regatta rules allow participants to moor with an anchor, but not at a dock or next to another boat. Besides that, they received no other external assistance, excluding weather updates or route information.

Only if the participants encounter a problem early on, are they permitted to return to the beginning for repair and start again. The restart must, however, be within 10 days of the official start.

Skipper Isabelle Joschke

The French-German skipper Isabelle Joschke set sail in this challenging race in 2020/2021 in her IMOCA boat, the MACSF.  IMOCA boats can be fitted with a canting keel (tiltable keel).

The main performance benefit of this tiltable keel is that, when the keel is tipped to the side which is facing the wind (windward), the tilt of the boat is reduced. In case of possible capsize, the boat can be righted again by tipping the keel to its maximum extent.

Since 2014, canting keels are mandatory in sailing races. The French company Hydroem delivers assembly kits for IMOCA boats which are fitted with this type of keel.

The keel is activated with the hydraulic cylinder built into the floor of the boat and connected to the keel. The distributor is between the hydraulic group (electric motor, hydraulic pump and oil tank) and the hydraulic cylinder. This contains electrical valves needed for controlling the hydraulic pressure.

The Keller Sensor 21Y is also connected to the distributor and measures the pressure of the keel cylinder.

Keller 21Y Specifications:

Accuracy: + 0,5%FS

Total error band :1,5%FS @ -10…80°C

Pressure range: 0…2,5 to 0…1000 bar

The skipper can influence the system and keel directly using a control box, using this to power the distributor or, to save energy, make the keel sink down using a ‘release’ button.

Skipper Isabelle Joschke unfortunately was forced to withdraw on the 62nd day of the race due to technical problems. Even correct use of the Keller sensors was unable to prevent this. At the time, she was lying in eleventh place and the leading woman in the Vendée Globe race.

Despite difficulties, Isabelle Joschke delivered a noteworthy racing performance. She was driven by determination and mental strength as she was only one of six women who took part in 2020/2021 race.  Her next opportunity will be in 2024.

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