Karver & Vendee Globe (english)




Last update : 11/02/2021 - 16:36 pm

This Vendée Globe 2020-2021 is our 4th Vendée Globe as a supplier of fittings to the Imocas fleet. We mainly supply furlers, hooks, jammers and blocks. Here is a visual that shows all the Karver equipment that can be found on board these incredible racing machines.

Karverized Imoca

It seemed necessary to open this page to be as transparent as possible, giving the keys of understanding and in most cases, only to simply say that we have nothing to do with some revealed problems ! Sailing is a world of passionate where the noise of the hulk can quickly overtake us. At each Vendée Globe, we are impressed by the amount of false information circulating.

 It seemed necessary to us to open this page during the race to be as transparent as possible, to give the understanding keys and in a certain number of cases only to say that we have nothing to do with some problems mentioned ! Sailing is a world of passionate where the ponton tales can quickly overtake us. At each Vendée Globe, we are impressed by the amount of false information circulating.

This page is therefore intending to shed light on the technical facts of the Vendée Globe in connection with our products.

IN THE NEWS (from the most recent to the oldest):

• On 12/16/2020 : Yannick Bestaven / Maitre Coq communicates on a blocked mainsail hook. This hook is not a Karver hook.

• On 12/14/2020 : Louis Burton / Bureau Vallée communicates on a blocked mainsail hook. This hook is not a Karver hook.

• On 12/4/2020 : Stéphane Le Diraison / Time for Oceans communicates on a blocked mainsail hook. This hook is not a Karver hook.

• On 11/19/2020 : Romain Attanasio communicates on a blocked mainsail hook. This hook is not a Karver hook.

• 11/11/2020 : Armel Tripon / l'Occitane announces the breakage of his hook and decides to divert to repair. This hook is not a Karver hook. He announced a few hours later that he was resuming the race. Be careful ! In the language of racers, the breakage of a hook means that they can no longer use it but the origin can very well be a problem on the mast (the attachment point) or the textile link which makes the connection between the hook and the mast.

• 10/11/2020 : One fan claimed on a participant's Facebook account that Hugo Boss is having hook problems. We contacted them on November 10 in the morning. The technical team denies the information.

• 09/11/2020 : Arnaud Boissière announced hook problems (Karver KFH). A permanently blocked hook is a very rare event and there is always an explanation ... In the absence of information from him or his technical team, we are waiting for his return to Les Sables to do the technical debriefing.

• 09/11/2020 : Thomas Ruyant mentioned the organization of a hook problem. According to his vacation of 11/11/2020 he does not seem worried and says he is able to repair it. We have not had any further information from the team yet. We will know more during the technical debriefing which will take place in a few days.

• 08/11/2020 : Fabrice Amédéo returned to the harbour following a hook blocking. The team finally informed us that a halyard got caught in the sail during furling. Under tension, this halyard cracked the mast and hampered the proper functioning of the hook. The Karver KFH hook is therefore not the source of the problem. It is collateral damage ! Regardless, the efforts on the hook have been significant. Although there is no serious problem, the team preferred to restart the race with a verified new hook. The solidarity of seafarers worked at full speed ! It was the Banque Populaire team that made one of our hooks available, which they kept on the old SMA mast. Fabrice has been racing again since 11/11/2020.

• To understand the value of a hook, you can read our KarverPedia article on this subject : KARVERPEDIA

• The most popular hook in Imoca is the KFH hook : here is a video that explains how it works : KFH hook Karver video 1 - KFH Video

• Hooks are perfectly reliable equipment. Like all products, we are not immune to delivering a defective product despite all our checks, but it is important to understand that a hook problem is not the manufacturer's fault alone. To voluntarily thicken the line, if you put diesel in your gasoline engine, you will have an engine failure ... but you will have difficulty in asserting the responsibility of the manufacturer. Whatever the manufacturer, multiple factors can explain the non-functioning of a hook : the choice of the hook by the team may be wrong (workload underestimated), following special conditions the instantaneous Safe Working Load (SWL) can greatly exceed the expected framework (a very big shock, a violent gybe, ...), hook installation may not be in accordance with recommendations, how to use hook may be very different from recommendations. Finally, and as was the case on Fabrice's boat, external elements can hinder the proper functioning of the hook or damage it.

• Several fans ask us how to know if the sails are properly hooked. All halyards have markings to show where the hooking areas are. The hooking is done gently and not with a "sharp blow ». Beyond the mark, it is sufficient to release the tension in the halyard. If the sail does not lower and there is no more tension in the halyard : the sail is hooked ! Since the fixed point is at the top of the mast, it needs to take up the tension from below with the help of a 3: 1 sheave installed under the furler. The KFH hook does not have an additional hook / unhooker command. The only rope is the halyard.

• The Imocas can be compared to Formula 1 of the seas. The pressure and competition between teams are important. The search for weight gain is a major component. At the request of the teams, we manufacture increasingly light and increasingly innovative products. In experimental phases, it is not uncommon to break material but it is part of the process of progress. The objective is of course to no longer be in this experimental phase at the start of a Vendée Globe. Everything is a question of the cursor between performance and safety and the cursor is not in the same position for a Vendée Globe or a Route du Rhum.

• A significant part of the hook problems concern the GV hooks. This is a system which mechanically blocks the mainsail on the track (at the head and at each reef point). The track and the hooked car are equipment chosen by the Imoca Class technical committee several years ago. All recent boats are therefore required to use this hook. Before this technical choice, the hooks of GV Karver were mainly present. We can still find some of them on the oldest sailboats. Note that this equipment obligation does not apply to other cars. It is therefore not uncommon to see our cars on the tracks of our competitors.

• Hooks are durable equipment. Subject to regular maintenance, they can be used for 3 or 4 Vendée Globe even if it is customary to replace it every 10 years to avoid possible breakage due to fatigue of the materials.

• New hull designs and improved equipment like foils allow boats to go faster and faster. In theory, the workloads tend to decrease, but that's not counting the very important shocks when the boats hit or crash. We are therefore increasingly pushing teams to anticipate dynamic load peaks which increasingly demand equipment. We carry out numerous tests to fully understand the consequences of punctual, rapid but repeated exceeding of workloads or breakdowns.

• The installation of a hook is a technical operation which is carried out by professional riggers. One of the sensitive points is, for example, the quality and the diameter of the splice at the end of the halyard. The position, length and characteristics of the lashing hook are also very important for proper functioning. We are usually at each regatta start to make sure everything is in order one last time before the start. With Covid we were not able to carry out this last check for this edition.

• Most racing yachts are fitted with external swivel hooks. This innovation designed by Karver and since taken over by some of our competitors consists of putting 2 products in 1 : The hook and the swivel. This is a significant gain in weight and bulk which are two major elements for performance gains.
If certain gray areas persist in your mind, we are at your disposal by phone, email, video or even more directly at our head office in Honfleur (Normandy / France) or in our technical & commercial office in Lorient La Base ( Brittany / France) where all the products are displayed and ready to be tested and peeled. . Seeing and understanding the internal mechanism of a hook is also a step closer to performance. It is in this office that we organize the training of skippers and technical teams.