Broken, Not Shattered

Speed Record Council slows /Mermaid II/ down

After a thorough examination of position data, the World Speed Sailing Record Council has ratified a speed record of 694.78nm in 24 hours for Tracy Edward's maxi-cat Maiden II, an average speed of 28.95 knots, and 2.22nm less than the crew had originally claimed. Maiden II--co-skippered by Brian Thompson, Helena Darvelid, and Adrienne Cahalan, sailing with a crew of 10--left Newport in early June for England with the intention of breaking Steve Fossett's record of 687.17 nautical miles, set in the North Atlantic last October on PlayStation.

The difference between Maiden II's claim and the ratified speed was due to the last position being taken two minutes after the 24-hour period. "However the WSSRC requires that additional position reports are made prior to, and following the record claim," notes a press release from the Council," and from these our Council members were able to identify a 24 hour pairing which has resulted in the existing record being broken."

This is a record that may not last long, especially considering the ever-growing stable of large multihulls with crew eager to take up the challenge. When de Kersauson sorts out the steering problems with his trimaran Geronimo, and Ellen MacArthur devotes her full attention to her new ride, Kingfisher IV (née Orange), the 700nm barrier won't stand. But after reading reports from Maiden II's crew about a rapid deceleration incident during their successful run at the record, one can't help but ask about these giants is not how fast they can go--because that seems almost limitless--but how fast they can go and still be safe enough to sail. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that at 40-plus knots, a pitchpole or capsize would be catastrophic, and have more in common with a plane crash than a sailing accident.