For those of you who dont have a scorecard for the latest group of throttle junkies trying to break the Jules Verne record, a brief genealogy of the boats involved.
We’ll start off with the only boat presently racing, the mind-numbingly large trimaran Geronimo.
Olivier de Kersauson, French TV personality and current holder of the Jules Verne trophy is the man behind this effort. In 1997 he and the crew of the 88-foot tri Sport Electric zinged around the globe in 71 days at an average speed of 12.66 knots.
The 111-foot Geronimo started off her attempt in fine form, sailing 1800 miles in 5 days, well on pace to break the record. Unfortunately, a lack of wind on the approach to the Equator has slowed the giant trimaran. At 1000 UTC today, 9 days and seven hours after starting, Geronimo finally crossed in to the Southern Hemisphere.
“A little over 9 days to reach the equator isnt an achievement that will go down in the record books”, said Olivier de Kersauson in a recent radio bulletin. “Without wishing to boast, a boat like Geronimo should be able to make it into the Southern Hemisphere within 6 days. But we had a horrible time in the Doldrums. For whatever reason, there was hardly any wind, and what there was changed direction all the time, leaving us to gibe up to six times in one hour. It was completely unpredictable. On board, the watch system more or less disappeared because we always had more people on deck than we needed. But the crewmembers were dying to cross this line and weve been able to resume our normal pace for the moment”
Geronimo was purpose-built for the Jules Verne by the Multiplast yard and is the largest sailing trimaran ever constructed. http://www.grandsrecords.com/ker/rec/en/homepage.htm
Bruno Peyron is the leader of the Orange campaign. The Ollier-designed Orange was built at the Multiplast yard for the first edition of The Race. As Innovation Explorer, it sailed to second place in the event, completing the course in 64 days, 22 hours.
After a refit at Multiplast, Orange crossed the starting line of the Jules Verne course on February 14. Almost immediately following the start and after the crew had set a masthead gennaker, the top 3 feet of the rig sheared. “We were ready to put our foot down to the floor, as we were still holding back a little,” said Peyron after the incident, “even though we were already at 28 knots! We knew that we had an exceptional weather window and we had just one thing on our mind, the Equator was lying just five and a half days ahead !
What followed is now history. The expected take off did not happen, as in spite of these comfortable conditions, the masthead exploded! No comment! We couldn’t believe our eyes. We saw red–this was serious!”
Peyron immediately returned the boat to the Multiplast yard to repair to the rig. Today, Team Orange announced that the mast repair is complete and that the crew will re-start their attempt on March 2. http://www.maxicatamaran-orange.com/site/en/index2.cfm
This week, Tracy Edwards made the announcement that she had arranged to purchase Club Med, Grant Daltons ride for The Race and the winner of the event. Edwards plans on getting most of her all-female crew together from their failed round the world record attempt in 1998 on Royal and Sun Alliance in which they sailed 7 consecutive 400 plus mile days and an impressive 500 mile day before being dismasted. “This is unfinished business,” she said. “We knew we had to go again.”
Now named Mermaid II, the big cat will begin nibbling away at some records this year: Trans-Med, Cadiz to San Salvador, Miami to New York, and the Transat. Next year, Edwards plans on attacking the Jules Verne record and in 2004, the second edition of The Race.
Easily the most recognized sailor in the World, Ellen MacArthur outlined her plans for the next few years at the London boat show. After talking of future events on Kingfisher and on an Open tri campaign she means to do, and almost as an afterthought, she mentioned the Jules Verne trophy. “Next winter I want to take a team of people on a maxi-catamaran to be the fastest round the world full stop in 2003,” she said. “It will take a team of 10 to 12 people to sail a boat like that, and it really will mean racing on the edge in the Southern Ocean.”
Although MacArthur didn’t mention at the time exactly which maxi-catamaran she wanted to use for the attempt, the obvious answer would seem to be Cam Lewis’ Team Adventure, the third of the Ollier tris out of Multiplast. Team Adventure was badly damaged by a collision with an unknown piece of debris while trying to break the Transatlantic record last year and sits in Bristol, R.I. waiting for repair. “We’re still waiting to settle the insurance claim,” said Cam Lewis. “We’re hogtied without a boat and a launch date so we have no future plans.” Lewis did say, however, that there had been discussions with Mark Turner, Ellen’s partner and coach but emphasized that no arrangement had been made. “They’ve got a good program,” said Lewis. “It’d be nice to get something together with those guys.”
In addition to the repair on the damaged bow, Team Adventure would also need to do some of the work thats already been done on the other two Multiplast cats. Refits that have seen extensive modifications to the underside of the main beam between the two hulls, and a determination if Team Adventures rig has the same design or construction flaw that brought down the top of Oranges rig.
Last but certainly not least is the venerable Playstation, current holder of many of the records that the above-mentioned teams will be attempting to break this year. After lengthening the hulls last year, Playstation set five records, including the 24-hour and the Transatlantic. While owner Steve Fossett has described 2002 as a “victory lap,” with a run at some records, hes also said: “I believe the three most important sailing records are the Jules Verne, the Transatlantic, and the 24-hour record, in that order.” Team Playstation may just not be able to sit still and watch the parade go by. At 125 feet, Playstation is the biggest of the multis and boasts a crew well versed in keeping the beast under control. Theyve learned the hard way how hard to push and when to lift the foot off the throttle, an important part of a successful Jules Verne attempt. http://www.fossettchallenge.com/
This scorecard may help as you try to keep track of all the huge multihulls whizzing around the planet for the next few years. One last bit of information for the mathematicians in the audience who may have noticed that Olivier de Kersausons 1997 Jules Verne record is still valid, despite the fact that the top three participants in The Race finished well under his 71-day record. “Although a record for the allotted course, and an impressive one, the organizers had from the beginning intended the competition to be distinct from a circumnavigation and it did not qualify as such. One reason for this was that the route did not return to its original destination.” This extract is from the World Sailing Speed Record Councils website, http://www.sailspeedrecords.com/, the only place to go to settle those bar bets.