My statement should not be taken as a vendetta against a boat or even a material. At the time that boat was built, Kevlar or aramid was well known and used. Carbon was too expensive and experimental for a period. Aramid still has its place, but pretty firmly on the margins of yacht engineering. Because now, not only is carbon fibre known and used, it is in fact a better material. Higher specific strength, bonds better, and in the end cheaper.
He wouldn't have gone round without seamanship but when you read the account from Monnet, you realise that the boat got hammered while he crossed the Indian ocean.
Correct me if I am wrong but I am under the impression that boats are structurally designed using statics with equivalent dynamic loads, there is nothing wrong with this up to a certain point when the high stiffness of the structure enhance the loads. Some people think that the IMOCA fleet might have died of this (old Voiles et Voiliers article, I think that VPLP said this but I am not sure and unfortunately I haven't got the article to hand.) as when they moved to CF with higher MOE the impact loads may have gone up beyond control with the disastrous effects we know. I am wondering if the VO70 aren't suffering from the same plague. It's a question that I am asking loudly rather than a statemeent, I know for instance that when you design crash barriers you need to look at the relation between kinetic energy and deflection and steel is obviously favoured over concrete because of the extra deflection.
Aramide are used for many applications where resilience matter (motorbike helmets, bullet proof armours...), Fleury Michon 10 / uunet was built of Kevlar and carbon fibre, it is certainly one of the most abused yacht in modern history of yacht racing, I can't even remember how many times it has competed in the Vendee Globe!
The history of FMX. link
DNF, capsized, has to rerighted (a specialty of that generation, so dangerous), dismasted, lost keel, boom broken, the list speaks for itself. You will say this is not the boat, perhaps. What would have happened to the boat if the rig did not drop first, or the keel did not come off first, etc. That argument leads nowhere.
I don't know what you want me to say. I will start with the point that carbon fibre construction does not enhance the loads. The loads are their from the sea state in this case. It does not deform much either, so it can be that the loads are not mitigated as with other composites or even metals. Do you want me to say that structural engineers understand all they need to know about handling the loads? That would be pretty foolish to say, one can always learn more. The sea will find every weakness, always does eventually.
As for the material, I like Kevlar just fine, use it in many boats. But not transocean racing yachts. Why? Well I mentioned the bonding, it is so problematic bonding to core material that IIRC W60 design rules banned core ahead of the mast, but there is also the fact that compression characteristics of Kevlar are pretty bad. So far problems that can be limited to tension (like bullet proofing) great.