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Atlantic Powerboat Challenge

This August, Metimer president Yves Kinard will set out from St Martin on a 3,200 nautical mile, non-stop Atlantic crossing, due to finish in St Martin de Re, north of La Rochelle. Should all go to plan, Kinard will have achieved something not done since 1936: crossing the pond in a small motor boat without a stopover.

70 years ago, Frenchman Marin-Marie made the crossing from New York to Le Havre in the 13-metre Arielle, in 19 days. For his attempt, Kinard, a naval architect, will be aboard a 21-ft plywood/epoxy vessel that he is currently building at the Geminga boatyard in Marigot. Normally, a vessel this size has a range of 600 miles. Kinard aims to squeeze an extra 2,600 out the tank with a 30hp diesel engine, running constantly for 23 days at a consumption of 4 litres an hour.

The August voyage will set the standard for his ‘Atlantic Powerboat Challenge’, due to be launched in May, 2007, in which motor boats in five categories will be invited to repeat the feat. Their challenge will be to complete the trip in less time, and with a lower fuel consumption than on Kinard’s 2006 voyage. The boats will arrive in time for the Grand Pavois in La Rochelle, the world’s largest.

Kinard’s boat is modelled on a Breton fishing boat, but falls into the ‘peche promenade’ category, appropriate for fishing or coastal pleasure, not for the open ocean. Kinard will, as a consequence, set off under a foreign flag and, most probably, without insurance. Back-up in case the engine fails will be a pair of kite-surf sails. Why bother?

“My idea is to improve the quality of boats,” he says. “It’s easy for me if I only want to cross the Atlantic – I would take a boat 20 metres long and 1 metre wide with a 20hp engine. But that’s not the idea. I want to improve pleasure craft.” Kinard expects the race will open up research into fuel consumption, hull design and pollution. He believes that a ‘zero consumption’ motor boat is possible, citing the example of trimaran designs that use rotating turbines to generate electricity.

Setting out from St Martin, Kinard and his two other crew will head to the east of Bermuda. “When I leave St Martin, I have the current and wind on my face,” he says, “but at Bermuda I will catch the Gulf Stream and head towards the Azores.”

Whilst the sailor in Kinard looks forward to the adventure, and the naval architect will relish the mechanical findings, the St Martin Marine Association president in him is already working flat out to raise the profile of the island – wooing sponsors, attending boat shows and fielding press enquiries. The 2007 Atlantic Powerboat Challenge’s May departure date is designed to extend the French side’s season a few more weeks, while the arrival in La Rochelle will be in time for the Mediterranean season. With a megayacht class, the hope is that some owners will choose to race their boats back to Europe.

Kinard aims to finish building his vessel, complete with fridge, stove, v-berth and wheelhouse, by June. Look out for an update in our summer issues.

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