Isle of Wight Record Falls & More

Fossett Bags Another One, Landsailors Wait, Volvo Sailors are Ready

November 9, 2001

Friday, the 9th of November has a distinctly high-speed feel to it as Fossett roars around the Isle of Wight and some danger junkies wait on a Royal Air Force runway for the proper weather to break the wind-powered land speed record. For those of us in the U.S., a promise of warm breezes in March as the 2002 Acura SORC website opens for business.

Things to keep an eye on during the course of this weekend:

The Thompson Regatta, the US Sailing Team qualifier for the Yngling class, held in Annapolis.


The Volvo 60 class gets ready to tackle the Southern Ocean and its associated miseries after a restart Sunday at 1100GMT. This leg, from Cape Town, South Africa to Sydney, Australia, will be 6550 miles long and includes a mark near Eclipse Island off the southwest coast of Australia followed by a dash across the Great Australian Bight and a ride through the infamous Bass Strait.

From the Fossett Challenge website:
New ‘Round The Island’ Record For Fossett & Crew, 2 hours 33 min 55 secs, over 36 minutes off old record.


After the disappointment of having to scrap yesterday’s Cowes-St Malo record attempt due to excessive weather, Skipper Steve Fossett’s 125’ Maxi-Catamaran PlayStation and her 13 person crew set out from Empress Dock, Southampton this morning with a target–to reclaim the traditional Isle of Wight ’Round the Island’ record Fossett (USA) had held since 1994–but which was broken in June of this year by Rodney Pattison (GB) and Francis Joyon (Fr) on the 60’ trimaran Dexia Eure et Loire (3 hours 10 minutes).

They achieved their goal, with a new record of 2 hours, 33 mins, 55 secs, over 36 minutes faster than the previous mark (pending ratification by the WSSRC).

When Steve set the prior mark (3 hours 35 minutes) aboard the trimaran Lakota his crew included Ben Wright, Dave Scully and Helena Darvelid – all of whom were on PlayStation today.


“This is a special satisfaction for all of us. Back in 1994 we thought the best conditions would be a north wind – and today we had really excellent conditions. We saw 39 kts top speed on the back side of the island,” said Fossett. “The wind was between 25-30 kts the whole way. We needed 1 tack (at the Needles) and 1 gybe (at Bembridge) all the way around”.

” This was a perfect race,” said Navigator Stan Honey. The boat was great, the crew were sharp, and we had great conditions.”

As for the Cowes-St Malo Channel Record, Steve advised that no suitable weather pattern was on the horizon for the next week ” so we’ll all go home now,” he said. “And keep a watch out for another opportunity this season.”


PlayStation’s Crew
Steve Fossett (USA) Skipper
Stan Honey (USA) Navigator
Ben Wright (AUS)
Shaun Biddulph (UK)
Dave Scully (USA)
Peter Hogg (NZ)
Chris Tibbs (UK)
Tom Swift (GER)
Paul Hakes (NZ)
Brad Cavanagh (USA)
Helena Darvelid (UK/SWE)
Pascal Blouin (FRA)
Steve Hammond (UK)

Windjet Press update, Friday 9th November 2001

Following the first Windjet Record Challenge last Wednesday, 31st October, when Richard Jenkins broke the British speed record, the Windjet team are back on standby, preparing for the next weather window, in which to challenge the World record of 116 mph.

The cold winds sweeping the country have brought winter to Waddington, covering the airfield in snow and ice over the last few days. Although Windjet thrives in cold, dense winds, the recent heavy rain and snow has made it impossible to take advantage of the strong winds that have battered the country over recent days.

“We had hoped to get out today,” said project director Richard Jenkins, speaking on a very blustery Thursday (8th Nov.) afternoon. “The wind has been very strong, but unfortunately we do not have snow chains on the craft yet!!”

However, the Windjet team have utilised this downtime to strip the craft and re-check all systems and components after the last Wednesday’s, high speed action. This procedure is essential after each high-speed test session, to check wear and ensure craft and system integrity.

Fortunately, the snow has already cleared and weather permitting, Windjet will be back out on the airfield as soon as possible. The forecast for this weekend however is not so good, with a high centered over the UK, providing light and variable winds. The long-range forecast, that looks into next week, is more hopeful and we will bring you more updates soon.

The wait for a perfect window should not be too long, as the historical weather data for RAF Waddington shows that the winds increase steadily throughout November and December. These months also bring the increased probability of crosswinds (3), due to the unstable winter weather patterns.

For latest updates visit

The Acura SORC’s official Web site, is now up and running. The site features the notice of race (NOR), competitor, and media registration forms as well as news and information on the 2002 Acura SORC and the Greater Miami area.
In its 61st year, the Acura SORC will be raced off Miami Beach, March 6-10, 2002. The regatta once again features racing on ocean courses with all shore side activities headquartered at the Miami Beach Marina.–Shawn McBride


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