Documents leaked from Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper's office, have revealed a complex plan to partner with the Vendee Globe Ocean Race for disposal of depleted Uranium from Canadian Nuclear reactors.
It appears the plan was to supply depleted uranium to skippers doing the Vendee Globe Ocean Race. The Uranium which is much denser than lead would be used in the keel bulbs. The Uranium could be coated in lead to ensure the safety of the sailors. Race organizers were to receive a large anonymous donation and Canada was to enter 3 boats in the next Vendee Globe.
A Canadian engineer who was working on the project until recently when he was laid off, explained the concept. Open 60 designers have long been searching for ways to get more weight into the keel bulbs without increasing the overall weight of the boat. They have built composite fins and more recently we saw Titanium used by Marc Guillemot on Safran. That did not work so well as his keel fell off only a few days into the race. The idea all centred around the use of lighter materials in the fin and other areas of the boat so that more lead can be carried at the tip of the keel in the bulb. This results in more righting moment and thus more speed when using the keel canted to windward. The boats with heavier keel bulbs literally have more horse power.
The engineer (who can not be named) went on to explain that the other thing that can be done in addition to more weight at the tip is to make that bulb more compact. A smaller bulb has less drag and this is good even when you are not using the keel, which is the configuration when sailing downwind. On that point of sail the entire keel (fin and bulb) are just creating drag and slowing the boat down. There is a lot of downwind sailing in the Vendee Globe Ocean Race, so reducing drag has big benefits.
The plan was discussed with the French government at a recent trade mission in Europe which the PM attended. Apparently the French, who use a lot of nuclear power, were interested in this Canadian technology and are considering a joint venture. The Canadians had evidently discovered a way to clad the bulb in lead and fasten it to the bulb without any radioactive leakage. The US was also interested because they have had to discontinue using depleted uranium in shell casings for their military. This has become a big problem for the US Government as the protests and lobbying by military veterans groups have been growing. According to other sources, deleted uranium was widely used by the US military for munitions in Iraq.
Sources inside the Prime Minister's Office have in revealed that the Prime Minister's real plan was the hope that lots of these keels would fall off over deep areas of the ocean and effectively be disposed of once and for all. This is apparently a lot cheaper than burying it in Northern Canada. The accumulation of this hazardous, radio active spent Uranium has been a thorn in the side of the national energy plan in Canada and France for decades and they thought they might have the answer. The 2016 Vendee Globe Ocean Race was to me the first test run for the plan but evidently the program has been put on hold because not enough keels have been falling off the boats.
Personally I still think there is plenty of time for keels to fall off. They usually start dropping like flies in the last 10,000 nm.
But seriously folks - not much happening out there today. Just waiting for the wind from the West to come in and see who made the right call. My bet is on the guys going left. We should know soon.