Security According to Monsieur Le Cardinal – Second Episode


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hugues-le-cardinalHugues Le Cardinal is preparing for the 2017-18 Transquadra, the solo “amateur” regatta (competitors will meet on the start line in Lorient in July next year to arrive in Martinique), aboard a JPK 9.60, “Mascarade.” We publish here the first part of a safety guide that the very expert Hugues, being the good aeronautical engineer that he is, has made especially for us and in which he makes a thorough study of the risks and safety measures to be taken if sailing solo or with a small crew. Let’s treasure it! HERE IS THE LINK TO THE FIRST EPISODE

Sailing solo, risks are around the corner. So we studied them and imagined the countermeasures to be taken. The risks identified in this second installment stem from technical problems, health issues, and fatigue.

Technical problem

The risk

There is always the risk of a technical problem especially when sailing with a used boat.


The structure of the boat has been verified by the shipyard.

Mast and shrouds
I installed a new mast and shrouds.

Collision with an object
The speed of our boats means that the probability of suffering major hull damage after a collision with an object at sea is very low. In spite of that, there is a crash-box on my boat, which is a small portion on the underside of the foredeck that is “sacrificial”-if it gets damaged, there is a second bulkhead that allows it not to sink. On board, there is all the safety equipment: raft, emergency beacon (EPIRB), personal beacon (PLB) attached to the safety vest. TRANSQUADRA involves 100 boats with similar speeds: first responders will be the other participants in case of serious need.

Problem with rudder blade
I’ll get
a spare blade with an easy attachment system.


Health problem


It may be trite to say, but in the middle of the ocean, the lone sailor is far from emergency rooms and hospitals.


is obvious that one must start out healthy. We have medicines on board that are appropriate for us and the potential problems. This set of drugs must be well known to the skipper. On the other hand, the ISAF safety internship is mandatory.

Remote medical examination
There is a 24-hour medical center in Toulouse that can be consulted via satellite phone. On board, I have a sheet to write down the symptoms and the center number recorded on the satellite.

Doctors in regatta
Many freelancers are participating in the Transquadra. Generally, there is more than one physician among the crews. Obviously this is a consideration; we should not rely on it.

Fatigue due to technical problems or stress

The risk

If one has technical problems, he breaks his rhythm and loses a lot of energy in concentration to solve the problem. Stress also makes one very tired.


The maturity of the solo sailor
To sail solo, you need to have a good experience. Today, I am sailing in serenity. I think before I make a maneuver, assess its real usefulness and its difficulty. If I am tired, I am able to wait before making the maneuver. My goal is to navigate as safely as possible.

Good sails
No need for sails that I am unable to use. They must be new or in very good condition, suitable for the boat and the way I sail.

A conscious use of the boat
I need to know what sail I use according to the weather (wind + waves). For slack I use a boom restraint and a Belgian genoa (webbed genoa that prevents the spinnaker from rolling around the forestay). Above 27 knots, I no longer sail with a spinnaker.

A co-skipper : the autopilot
Actually, you start with two independent pilots installed on board. For the former, I have 2 control stations and 2 remote controls. In case it does not work, I will use the second pilot. For performance, one must know one’s autopilot well.


Risks exist. In seven editions of the Transquadra, however, only one lone navigator has died. He was a “mountain” man with little experience. We do everything to ensure that such risks are kept to a minimum. After 4 ocean crossings, 2 Courses des îles, 2 Rome for One, and a few weeks of solo sailing, I have gained experience that allows me to be ready for this beautiful challenge: the solo Atlantic crossing in a regatta.

Hugues Le Cardinal



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